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Cisco Security Certifications Gain Three New Security Specialist Credentials

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Recently, Cisco announced the addition of three Security Specialist credentials to its CCNP Security certification path, which was introduced in October 2010. With this latest addition of the credentials on IOS Security, Firewall, and VPN solutions, Cisco is rounding out those building block certs that can lead to CCNP Security. In this article, we describe these new offerings and put them into context for the entire Cisco Security certification portfolio, from CCNA Security all the way to CCIE Security.
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On February 2, 2011, Cisco announced the introduction of three new Cisco Security Specialist certifications. These items included a credential devoted to VPN solutions, another on Firewalls, and a third for the IOS (Internetwork Operating System) that runs on Cisco routers and switches. All three of these credentials include coverage of Cisco security appliances and basic IOS security features, even as each one delves more deeply into its specific areas of concentration.

The real value of these additions to the combined Cisco Security Certification portfolio, however, comes not so much from the areas that they cover (though Cisco researched these thoroughly to meet specific and urgent customer needs). Rather, their true value is that they constitute a nicely architected collection of building blocks to lead IT professionals from the mid-tier Security Specialist credentials to the more senior Cisco Certified Network Professional Security (CCNP Security) certification. A snippet from Cisco’s slide deck for this announcement illustrates how these credentials are positioned, and puts these certs into an overall context that we explore further in the sections that follow:

Figure 1

Figure 1 Red-starred items identify the three new Security Specialist certs

CCNA Security: The Necessary Preamble

Before candidates can earn any of the Cisco Security Specialist credentials, they must earn the CCNA Security cert (or other valid alternatives—check the pre-requisites listed under the “VPN and Security Certifications” heading on the Cisco Career Certifications and Paths page). Earning CCNA Security basically requires earning a CCNA and then taking exam 640-553 IINS, Implementing Cisco IOS Network Security. This sets the stage for all the specialist security certifications that can follow in its wake.

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