Cybersecurity is incredibly important these days, especially to the business sector. With so many prominent names hitting the headlines after having customer information stolen, it's no surprise so many administrators are terrified at the thought of a data breach. This fear isn't unfounded, either. A study conducted by Centrify found that around 66 percent of customers in the U.S. would likely halt any interaction with a company that's officially been hacked.
With so much on the line, it's no wonder businesses are scrambling to hire the best cybersecurity talent they can find. That said, these organizations know they can't just hire anyone, which is why many of them look to see if the applicant has received some sort of IT certification training in data security. These courses are extremely informative and give students the tools they need to keep cybercriminals at bay.
However, there are a lot of different certifications out there, and wading through them all can be difficult. To that end, we've put together this list of the top four cybersecurity certifications currently available.
"To stop a hacker, a cybersecurity professional must be able to think like one."
1. Certified Ethical Hacker
In order to stop a hacker, a cybersecurity professional must be able to think like one. It's an interesting balance between toeing the line of moral actions while still processing the malicious thoughts the average cybercriminal would have. This kind of mentality isn't easy to come by, which is why the Certified Ethical Hacker course was created.
This class centers around teaching IT professionals the skills they need to think and act like a hacker. Topics range from how these malicious individuals gather information about their victims to specific threats such as malware and viruses. CEH students even learn about the intricacies of social engineering.
Those willing to complete this course have a wide array of possible positions to choose from, with perhaps the most notorious being penetration testing. These jobs basically require the individual to do everything a hacker would do in order to break into a network without actually stealing any data. This demands a high level of trust, which is well rewarded. Penetration tester salaries can often top out at just over $130,000 annually, according to PayScale.
2. CompTIA Security+
If there were ever a base-level certification for IT professionals thinking about moving into cybersecurity, the CompTIA Security+ course would be it. Although this class requires students to have at least two years of experience within IT, it's seen by many in the industry as a more general certification due to the fact that it doesn't focus on a single vendor's product line.
But don't let this more generalized approach scare you away. This course's wide range is meant to be all-encompassing, teaching professionals a decent amount about overall IT security. In fact, CompTIA Security+ is so well trusted that the U.S. Department of Defense has mandated that its employees take it, according to TechTarget contributor Joseph Granneman.
3. Certified Information System Security Professional
Continuing with general cybersecurity knowledge, the Certified Information System Security Professional course is considered by many IT companies as being a base requirement for employees working on securing a business's network. Everything from physical security to cryptography is covered in this course. Like CompTIA Security+ this certification doesn't focus on a single vendor, which means the knowledge can be applied to a wide variety of different setups.
As it is with most other cybersecurity certifications, passing the CISSP exam can lead to some incredibly lucrative positions. Security architects, for example, can make more than $150,000 annually. Again, those wishing to take the exam will need at least a few years of previous experience in the field.
4. Certified Information Security Manager
The Certified Information Security Manager certification is revered as being one of the best courses in cybersecurity out there, and for good reason. The exam that culminates all the knowledge gained in these classes is incredibly hard, and TechTarget's Margaret Rouse has reported that you need at least five years experience in the field to even apply.
Over the course of the certification, students will primarily learn about four sections of cybersecurity, according to Rouse:
- Information security program development and management
- Information security management
- Information security incident management
- Information risk management and compliance
Each portion is incredibly rigorous and demands a lot of time and knowledge, but the end result is worth it. Chief information security officers, a position that CISM holders can attain, can often make upwards of $200,000 per year, according to PayScale. If you have the previous five years experience necessary to take this class, there's a good chance you'll be able to increase your earning potential.
Working in cybersecurity is incredibly rewarding, both financially and emotionally. There are few goals as noble as keeping hackers at bay, and receiving computer based training in one of these certifications is a great way to aid in the fight against these criminals.