Top 10 Certification Courses To Kickstart a Career in Cybersecurity

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Cybersecurity is the most debated topic since the onset of the pandemic. It deals with the protection/security of internet-connected systems and devices such as the hardware, software, databases, etc., from cyber threats and cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is crucial as technology continues to evolve and as digital methods take precedent. Organizations store their sensitive data in databases and transmit confidential data online due to the work-from-home situation due to the pandemic.

Attackers have developed methods and tools to infiltrate a secure system to gain unauthorized access and steal data or infect the system or network with malware, viruses, etc., to gain unauthorized access. With the rise in cybercrimes, there has been a demand for cybersecurity professionals in various organizations to check, regulate, and enforce security constraints that help avoid and prevent a cyberattack from taking place.

There are various fields in cybersecurity. Individuals can choose any one of the fields which suits their interests. Some of the fields of cybersecurity are:

  • Cloud Security Analyst
  • Cyber Forensics Expert
  • Network Security Engineer
  • Ethical Hacker
  • Chief Information Security Officer [CISO]
  • Penetration Tester

Organizations prefer well-versed candidates and have a complete understanding and knowledge of the subject, which ensures the organization that they can handle and maintain the organization’s security aspects. Many certification courses are available online, which provides a complete guide to individuals who want to pursue a career or learn about the subject to enhance their skills and knowledge in the subject.

It is required for a candidate to have completed the certification course from a reputed and accredited organization. All the organizations require a candidate to have a certification, making it evident that the candidate has complete knowledge about the subject and can handle any situation respected. Various organizations provide various cybersecurity certifications which have high value and are accepted globally.

Following are the top 10 cybersecurity certification courses to consider if one is interested in pursuing a career in the field of cybersecurity:

1. Certified Ethical Hacker [CEH]

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is a famous and well-renowned cybersecurity certification course offered by EC-Council globally accepted. EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker is offered in 2 variations: the CEH (theory) and CEH (practical). One can understand the core concepts and have hands-on practice to solve real-world problems.

The latest version of the course, CEH v11, provides the candidate with in-depth knowledge and the latest techniques of commercial-grade hacking, which includes tools and methodologies used by hacking professionals to gain experience and know-how work. CEH certification by EC-Council is accredited and recognized by many known Police organizations like the National Cyber Security Centre, United States Department of Défense (DoD), FBI, NSA, etc.  The course has 20 modules that cover all the essential topics. They are:

  • Introduction to Ethical Hacking
  • Footprinting and Reconnaissance, Scanning Networks, Enumeration
  • Vulnerability Analysis
  • System Hacking, Malware Threats, Sniffing and Social Engineering
  • Denial-of-Service, Session Hijacking, and Evading IDS, Firewalls and Honeypots
  • Firewalls and Honeypots
  • Hacking Web Servers, Hacking Web Applications, and SQL Injection
  • Hacking Wireless Networks, Hacking Mobile Platforms
  • IoT and OT Hacking, Cloud Computing and Cryptography
Course duration:

5-day, 40-hour program; Exam duration: 4 hours consisting of 125 MCQs.

Prerequisites:
  • Basic knowledge of networking and operating systems.
  • A strong foundation in technical and analytical skills.
  • To take up the CEH(ANSI) exam, the candidate must have the following: Hold a CEH certification (version 1 – 7) or A minimum of 2 years of work experience in the infosec domain or should be attending official EC-Council training classes.

There are unique additions in the CEH v11, making it unique from the other hacking certification courses. The unique topics which are added are as follows:

  • It is mapped into the NICE 2.0 framework areas
  • A greater focus on 18 attack vectors, including the OWASP Top 10, IoT hacking, Vulnerability Analysis, APT, Fileless Malware, Web API Threats, Webhooks, Web Shell, OT Attacks, Cloud Attacks, AI, ML, etc.
  • Modern exploit technologies
  • Hands-on hacking challenges
  • Modern case studies and current events
  • Enhanced focus on malware analysis
  • Live, cyber range (no simulations)
  • Greater focus on Cloud and IoT
  • Thousands of hacking techniques, tricks, and tools

On completing the course, the candidate may attempt the certification exam, following which a certificate is presented to the candidate once they clear the examination.

2. Certified Information Systems Security Professional [CISSP] – (ISC)2

The ISC2’s Certified Information Systems Security Professional is one of the most renowned cybersecurity certifications.  International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) is an organization that specializes in training and certifications in the cybersecurity domain. CISSP is one of the most widely known certifications of ISC2.

The certification is accredited under the ANSI ISO/IEC Standard and approved by the U.S. Department of Defense. The qualification is attained as a Level 7 certification by the UK National Recognition Information Centre, which makes it equal to a Master’s degree.

The certification course offers eight modules, which are as follows:

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Asset Security
  • Security Architecture and Engineering
  • Communication and Network Security
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security
Course Duration:

2-3 months is the ideal to complete the course.

Prerequisites:
  • Minimum of five years of direct full-time security work experience in two or more of the (ISC)² information security domains.
  • Candidate without five years of experience will earn the Associate of (ISC)² on passing the CISSP examination, valid for a maximum of six years. A candidate should acquire the necessary experience during those six years and submit the endorsement form for certification as a CISSP.
  • Have their credentials authorized by another (ISC)² certification holder in good standing.
  • On clearing the examination, a certificate is provided to the candidates.

3. PWK OSCP – Offensive Security

Offensive security is an American international organization that deals with information security, digital forensics, and penetration testing. Offensive Security is well known for creating open projects, advanced security courses, Exploit DB and KALI Linux Distribution, and provides security training and counseling to various technology organizations.

The Penetration Testing with Kali Linux [PWK], also known as the PEN-200, is a foundational certification course offered by Offensive Security, which is self-paced.  The courses contain in-depth knowledge about the penetration testing tools and techniques combined with hands-on-experience simulations via a virtual lab and taught by trained Kali Linux experts. The course syllabus contains the following modules:

  • Penetration Testing: What You Should Know
  • Getting Comfortable with Kali Linux, Command Line Fun, Practical Tools
  • Bash Scripting, Passive Information Gathering, Active Information Gathering
  • Vulnerability Scanning, Web Application Attacks
  • Introduction to Buffer Overflows, Windows Buffer Overflows, Linux Buffer Overflows
  • Client-Side Attacks, Locating Public Exploits, Fixing Exploits
  • File Transfers, Antivirus Evasion, Privilege Escalation
  • Password Attacks, Port Redirection and Tunnelling, Active Directory Attacks
  • The Metasploit Framework, PowerShell Empire, Assembling the Pieces: Penetration Test Breakdown
  • Trying Harder: The Labs
Course Duration:

Self-Paced

Prerequisites:
  • Solid foundation and understanding of TCP/IP networking.
  • Windows and Kali Linux administration experience.
  • Familiarity with basic Bash and/or Python Scripting.

Upon completion and successfully clearing the examination, candidates receive the coveted Offensive Security Certified Professional [OSCP] certification.

4. Certified Information Security Manager [CISM] – ISACA

Information Systems Audit and Control Association [ISACA] is an international association that is completely focused on Information Technology Governance. It was formerly known as Information Systems Audit and Control Association, but now its acronym – ISACA. ISACA provides eight certification courses along with many other micro certificates.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification is a certification program that provides training in information security governance, program development and management, incident management, and risk management. The course syllabus is broadly categorized into four categories as follows:

  • Information security governance – 24%
  • Information risk management and compliance – 33%
  • Information security program development and management – 25%
  • Information security incident management – 18%

This is a great course if one wants to shift from a team player to a managerial position. The course is offered in two modes of teaching, which are self-paced and instructor-led. The self-paced training has the following options, which the candidate can choose according to his/her convenience:

  • Question, Answers & Explanations Database
  • Online Review Course
  • Exam Prep Community
  • Print/eBook Study Materials

The instructor-led training has the following options which the candidate can choose from:

  • Virtual Instructor-Led Training
  • In-Person Training & Conferences
  • Customized, On-Site Corporate Training
Course Duration:

17 hours (online training)

Prerequisites:

Relevant full-time work experience in the CISM job practice areas.

A minimum of 5-years of professional information security management work experience – as described in the CISM job practice areas – is required for certification. Candidates can apply for the certification within five years after passing the exam. The certificate is awarded once the candidate completes his/her five years of working experience.

5. CISCO Certified Network Professional [CCNP]

CISCO Systems is an American multinational technology amalgamation which deals with manufacturing and selling network hardware, software, telecommunication equipment, and various other high technology services and products. They also provide certification courses for individuals who want to ace in the field of information security.

CISCO certifications are of 4 levels, which are Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect as well as nine different paths for the specific technical field which are: Routing & Switching, Design, Industrial Network, Network Security, Service Provider, Service Provider Operations, Storage Networking, Voice, Data-center and Wireless.

The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) enterprise certification provides in-depth knowledge of the course in the nine paths mentioned above. It enhances the knowledge and understanding of how security works in various aspects. The CCNP requires a candidate to pass two exams, the core exam and concentration exam, to earn the CCNP Certification. The two exams are as follows:

  • The core exam focuses on the candidate’s knowledge of enterprise infrastructure, including dual-stack (IPv4 and IPv6) architecture, virtualization, infrastructure, network assurance, security, and automation.
  • The concentration exam focuses on emerging and industry-specific topics like network design, SD-WAN, wireless, and automation. Candidates can prepare for the concentration exam training by taking up the relevant Cisco training courses.
Course Duration:

2.5 Months

Prerequisites:

Good understanding of the exam topics before taking the exam. On passing the exam, the candidates are offered with the CCNP certificate which is valid for 3 years.

6. Certified Chief Information Security Officer [CCISO]

The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants, abbreviated as EC-Council, is an American organization that offers cybersecurity certifications, education, training, and other services. Certifications from EC-Council are recognized worldwide and are accredited by renowned investigation and law departments such as the National Cyber Security Centre, United States Department of Défense (DoD), FBI, NSA, etc.

The Certified Chief Information Security Officer [CISO] is a certification provided to candidates who want to learn and train to become a professional chief information security officer. The course focuses on the application of information security management principles from an executive management point of view. It is exclusively designed to enhance middle-level managers’ skills and bring them up to the level of executive leaders. It is an extensive course designed specifically for experienced InfoSec professionals.

The course is based on five domains with deep dives into scenarios taken from CISO’s who contributed to the course. The five domains are as follows:

  • Domain 1: Governance and risk management
  • Domain 2: Information security controls, Compliance, and Audit Management
  • Domain 3: Security Program Management and Operations
  • Domain 4: Information Security Core Competencies
  • Domain 5: Strategic Planning, Finance, Procurement, and Vendor Management

One can opt for the training means according to his/her convince from the following options: Self-study courseware and exam; EISM the associate program CISO program(for those who do not have experience) and the Training online and in-person mode.

Course Duration:

It takes an average of 2 months for someone to complete the courseware if you choose self-study as a learning method.

Prerequisites:

To take up the CCISO exam, the candidates must have five years of experience in each of the 5 CISO domains verified via the Exam Eligibility Application without taking any training. To sit for the exam after taking training, candidates must have five years of experience in three of the five CCISO Domains verified via the Exam Eligibility Application.

On passing the examination, the certificate is awarded to the candidates who have validity for three years.

7. Comptia Security+

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is an American trade association that issues professional certifications related to Information technology. It is one of the top trade associations in the IT industry. CompTIA administers its vendor-neutral certification exams through Pearson VUE testing centers.

The CompTIA Security+ is a renowned global certification that validates the basic skills essential to perform core security functions and pursue a career in the IT field. The course provides hands-on practical skills, ensuring the security professional is prepared to solve a wider variety of current complex issues. The basic cybersecurity skills are applicable across many job roles to secure systems, software, and hardware.

One can prepare for the examination by opting for any one among the following based on his/her convenience:

  • eLearning And Virtual Labs
  • Exam Prep
  • Study Guides
  • Video Training
  • Instructor-Led Training

The course provides the following syllabus covering all the security-related topics:

  • Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities
  • Security Posture and Incident Response
  • Cryptography and PKI
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Secure Network Architecture Design
  • Secure Wireless Access and System Design
  • Secure Protocols and Services
  • Mobile and Cloud Security
  • Risk Management and Secure Application Development
  • Organizational Security and Digital Forensics
Course Duration:

Self-Pace

Prerequisites:
  • Understanding of Linux OS and networking
  • A certificate is provided to those candidates who pass the examination and the certificate is valid for 3 years.

8. Certified Cloud Security Professional [CCSP] – (ISC)2

The ISC2’s Certified Information Systems Security Professional is one of the most renowned cybersecurity certifications.  International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) is an organization that specializes in training and certifications in the cybersecurity domain.

The CCSP certification course provides in-depth learning and offers advanced technical skills and knowledge to design, manage and secure data, applications, and infrastructure in the cloud using best practices, policies, and procedures established by the cybersecurity experts at (ISC)².

The course syllabus is categorized into 6 domains which are:

  • Domain 1: Cloud Concepts, Architecture and Design
  • Domain 2: Cloud Data Security
  • Domain 3: Cloud Platform & Infrastructure Security
  • Domain 4: Cloud Application Security
  • Domain 5: Cloud Security Operations
  • Domain 6: Legal, Risk, and Compliance

The course training can be opted form one of the following, based on the convenience of the candidate:

  • Classroom-based
  • Online Instructor-Led
  • Online Self-Paced
  • Private On-Site

Paid Study materials are offered (optional) for the candidates who opted for online self-paced.

Course Duration:

Self-Paced

Prerequisites:

One must pass the exam and have at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in information technology, of which three years must be in information security, and one year in one or more of the six domains of the (ISC)² CCSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).

Upon passing the exam, candidates are awarded with certification.

9. Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator [CHFI]

The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants, abbreviated as EC-Council, is an American organization that offers cybersecurity certifications, education, training, and other services. The certifications are accredited by renowned investigation and law departments such as the National Cyber Security Centre, United States Department of Défense (DoD), FBI, NSA, etc.

The Certified Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator [CHFI] is a course based on detecting hacking attacks, extracting evidence, reporting digital crime, and conducting audits to prevent future attacks. Digital threats and attacks are made via digital devices are on the rise, and Cyber Forensics investigator looks into such scenarios to solve them. EC-Council’s Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator course provides extensive content to train and enhance the candidate’s skills to become a successful Cyber Forensics Investigator.

Digital forensics focuses on the digital domain, which includes computer forensics, network forensics, and mobile forensics. Computer forensic can help investigate threats, attacks, system anomalies and help System administrators detect a problem. The course syllabus includes the following:

  • Computer Forensics in Today’s World
  • Computer Forensics Investigation Process
  • Understanding Hard Disks and File Systems, Operating System Forensics
  • Defeating Anti-Forensics Techniques, Data Acquisition, and Duplication
  • Network Forensics, Investigating Web Attacks
  • Database Forensics, Cloud Forensics, Malware Forensics
  • Investigating E-mail Crimes
  • Mobile Forensics
  • Investigative Reports
Course Duration:

5 days (9:00 – 5:00)

Prerequisites:

The Candidate must complete the official EC-Council training at an Accredited Training Center, via the iClass platform, or at an approved academic institution. The candidate is eligible to attempt the relevant EC-Council exam or be considered without attending training; candidates must first be approved via the eligibility application process. Hold a CHFI certification of version 1 to 7; minimum of 2 years work experience in InfoSec domain.

On passing the exam, the candidates are awarded certificates.

10. Enterprise and Cloud | Threat and Vulnerability Assessment – SANS

The SANS Institute is a private U.S organization which deals with Information Security, Cybersecurity Training, and certifications. Training topics that SANS offers include cyber and network defenses, penetration testing, incident response, digital forensics, and auditing. The courses are developed with the help of administrators, security managers, and information security professionals.

The certification helps an individual enhance the technical vulnerability assessment skills and techniques that use time-tested, practical approaches to ensure true value across the enterprise. The course also delivers real industry-standard security tools for vulnerability assessment, management, and mitigation; holistic vulnerability assessment methodology focusing on challenges faced in large enterprises; practice on a full-scale enterprise range chock-full of target machines representing an enterprise environment, leveraging production-ready tools and a proven testing methodology.

The course module includes the following:

  • Vulnerability Management and Assessment
  • Network and Cloud Asset Discovery and Classification
  • Enterprise and Cloud Vulnerability Scanning
  • Vulnerability Validation, Triage, and Mass Data Management
  • Remediation and Reporting
  • Vulnerability Assessment Hands-on Challenge
Course Duration:

6 Days

Prerequisites:

Functional knowledge of information security concepts, technology, and networking is highly recommended, and the stated laptop requirements:

  • At least 8 GB of RAM
  • 40 GB of available disk space (more space is recommended)
  • Administrator access to the operating system
  • Anti-virus software will need to be disabled to ensure an ideal learning environment
  • An available USB type-A port
  • Wireless NIC for network connectivity
  • The workstation must be OPSEC SAFE and should NOT contain any personal or company data; you will connect to a high-risk, live-fire environment
  • Verify that under BIOS, Virtual Support is ENABLED
  • System running Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X 64-bit version

On completion, a certificate is provided to the candidate.

Key Takeaway

With the evolving trends, many individuals have shown great interest in cybersecurity and intend to pursue a career in the same field. However, with the mandatory requirement of certification in the respected field, many individuals are confused about what certifications are required and which one to opt for.

The article provides the top 10 certification courses in cybersecurity offered by reputed organizations, which can be opted by anyone to pursue a career in the cybersecurity field.

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