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RE: Re: University Degree or CISSP
From: Bob Radvanovsky <rsradvan () unixworks net>
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 15:50:32 -0600

OK, time for my $0.02 worth of commentary.

Ladies, the outcome from all of this bickering is simple: you need both.

I have several degrees that are both business and computer related, along with slightly over 2 dozen certifications.  
Realistically, the ONLY reason for having a certification is so you can: (1) either promote yourself better within your 
company to acquire or move to a higher paying position, or (2) move onward to another company, demonstrating your 
knowledge and skillset.

This goes back to my original analogy of Dr. Suess's story of the "Star-Bellied Sneeches".  The eventual outcome was 
that neither was better than the other, and they needed each other to band together.  Simply having the CISSP 
certification does have some merit because of its length in the industry and how some recruiters consider it 
prestigious.  That may be.  However, I know people who, not only have the CISSP, but other security-specific 
certifications, and couldn't perform a risk assessment, penetration analysis, case study, or even a simple audit 
without consulting the "Auditing for Dummies" book (there isn't one that I'm aware of, but I am simply being 
demonstrative for this case).

Consequently, I've known college students that got almost straight "A's" throughout college.  And 'ya wanna know what 
they're doing today?  Unemployed.  Yup.  And the reason why?  They can't *apply* what they know, because they never 
really studied, only memorized, the material.

It is a balance of having both items.  If you look closely at many job requirements, it's something to the effect of 
cert plus degree, or degree with experience, or cert with experience.  Simply having them both is no guarantee that 
you'll get the job, and consequently, having experience but no degree or cert won't get you the job, either.

A friend of mine pointed something out to me in very simple terms.  Recruiters are nothing more than order takers, very 
similar to those order takers from fast food restaurants, such as McDonalds.  Most of them have very little knowledge 
of the industry, knowing just enough of the terms and buzzwords to be dangerous, but have practical knowledge in how to 
read and comprehend people.  What they're good at doing is filling slots for companies -- nothing more.  Companies give 
the orders on what they want filled, and what are the requirements.  The recruiters try and attempt to fill the slots 
as best as possible.  And any recruiter that tries and tells me that there's more to this is crazy.  For example, we 
had ONE job position available here in Chicago recently.  The next day, 24 recruiters attempted to state "unique job 
opportunity", all funneling into that ONE job position that had opened up.  Also, these recruiters used the exact same 
job posting boards that you and I use: Monster, AllJobs, USAJobs, HotJobs, etc.  So, how is that helping you out?  
They'd like to say that they have their own selective search database and that their service is unique and 
comprehensive.  Rrrrrrr-ight.  Many of them *share* data between each other.  It goes back to filling slots and them 
getting their commission checks -- nothing more.  In fact, most recruiters would rather that people move from job to 
job to job more regularly, because they'd get a fatter, bigger bonus.  I know several long-time colleagues from the IT 
industry recruitment field (about 15 years now), and they occasionally come to me with a job req., asking if I'd be 
interested.  It's always the same thing, doing the same crap, day in, day out, and offers nothing more than a lateral 
move for me.  BUT...what it does do is give me a little bit more insightful information as to how their recruiting 
process works.  Recruiters try and get people to sign up with them for their *EXCLUSIVE* search database, almost 
stating that they'd GUARNTEE you a job.  HINT: if you listen carefully, and have done this as long as I have, you'll 
never actually hear them "guarantee" you a job.  To do that would be misleading, and I'm pretty sure that it might even 
be on the border of illegal, too.

Here's my advise of getting a job.  If you have ZERO experience, DO NOT expect to get that $80K/year job -- you'll have 
to stand in line for guys like me who'll want it.  Companies want EXPERIENCED people these days, and folks who have 
intelligence, ambition and ideas are good, but won't give or offer those lead positions.  Start small and work your way 
up.  Sooner or later, you'll get noticed by someone and get that job that you wanted.  Chances are, that job wasn't 
what you wanted, anyways.  And...many lead roles have some risk to them.  If you f*** up, you might get fired -- as the 
chances are for those who work in the financial sectors (banking, trading, funds, etc.) or the healthcare sector.

If you have SOME experience, and have an A.S. degree, finish getting you B.S. degree, but settle for that job doing PC 
repair.  Build up some experience some more, and learn people skills, communication skills, and techniques, and polish 
them for when you graduate with the B.S.  Chances are, you'll get a better job than you've realized after you've 
received your B.S.

If you have ALOT of experience, get a few certs -- it can't hurt.  CompTIA is good one for starters.  Once taken, 
they're good -- FOR LIFE.  They're NOT senior or lead level certs, but they show that you have a rudimentary 
understanding in whatever field of interest you want.  Their SECURITY+ is OK, but combined with a NETWORK+ and an A+, 
shows that you have basic knowledge in IT networking, hardware support, and know how to spell and say "security".  Some 
certs to be wary of: CISSP.  It is aimed for the "average manager" who know very little of security, and has been 
thrown into the role of security.  It is VERY broad-based, and covers mostly management concepts in security.  A 
comparable cert to the CISSP that's gaining attention is the CISM from ISACA.  It focuses more on the auditing and 
forensics aspects of security, which are the up-n-coming areas of interest within the security industries.

Other certs that you'd want to pay more attention to, are more specialized, and in most cases, much, much more 
technical.  Those would be the Cisco CCNA (don't waste yer time with the CCNP, get the CCNA, but be prepared for ALOT 
of studying about routers and the routing protocols -- also their tests are brutal and require ALOT of practical over 
memorization of concepts; Cisco WANTS to make sure that you KNOW "networking"), the SANS GIAC (I liked their certs 
pertaining to firewalls, IDS, general network security, and the one on policy management), CIW (if you're a web 
designer, you should have this one), CIFI (an IT forencs management cert, esp. if you're a police officer or involved 
with law enforcement, this is a good one to have), CIPS (a new certification pertaining to "Critical Infrastructure 
Protection", offered by the Office of Infrastructure Preparedness, and deals with emergency management, disaster 
recovery and planning, and homeland security -- all very good if you work for a critical instructure company), and 
perhaps the CISA (also by ISACA), which focuses entirely on IT auditing.  Also, consider getting a few other specialty 
O/S certs: IBM, HP, Sun, Red Hat, Microsoft, Novell -- all offer comprehensive operating system certs for their O/S's.

In closing, a degree demonstrates that you "know where to look for information", and a cert demonstrates that you "know 
how to look for information".  Neither one, in my opinion, demonstrates the "what" or "why" clearly.  That, to me, 
comes from experience.  So, if experience is the third factor, you'll need 3 factors: a degree, 3-6 certifications 
(have a vast richness in certs, say a CCNA, CISSP, maybe a CISA, a NETWORK+, a LINUX+, and perhaps a forensics or CIPS 
cert), and 3-5 years experience.

-rad

----- Original Message -----
From: Ken Kousky [mailto:kkousky () ip3inc com]
To: "'Huang, John, GCM'" [mailto:John.Huang () rbsgc com], security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: RE: Re: University Degree or CISSP


This is the craziest conversation I ever heard of - there is NO comparison
between a REAL degree and CISSP. CISSP is great, valuable and vital but it
isn't in any way comparable. 

Simply put, if you don't have a degree - get one and get the best one you
can.

-----Original Message-----
From: Huang, John, GCM [mailto:John.Huang () rbsgc com] 
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 1:41 PM
To: security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: RE: Re: University Degree or CISSP

Degree or CISSP? It depends on where you are in life. A degree helps you
in the door and advancement into a management position usually require a
college degree. But if you're already in the field and don't have a
college degree, a CISSP cert is easier to obtain in a shorter amount of
time, and provide more immediate benefit since you can put the things
you learn into use.

-----Original Message-----
From: shyaam () gmail com [mailto:shyaam () gmail com] 
Sent: Friday, January 20, 2006 10:25 PM
To: security-basics () securityfocus com
Subject: Re: Re: University Degree or CISSP

Yes,
Very true. Nothing counts equivalent to experience, but experience comes
only when someone starts somewhere. I have seen one big thing happening
around. People in the industries shifted from technology to business,
that is the point when they lost the security and created more loopholes
in their own products as they reduced the time needed, reduced budgets
and spent more on advertisements and marketing. 
How does that reflect on people. They need people already with
experience. But how is that possible. Everybody needs to start
somewhere. So experience does count, but I would say some foundation,
some added qualification and some experience is good for a cool job. For
a startup job, some degree and some cert is essential.

PS: This is my opinion, I am not pointing out any company or any private
organization.

-S-

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---------------------------------------------------------------------------
EARN A MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION ASSURANCE - ONLINE
The Norwich University program offers unparalleled Infosec management 
education and the case study affords you unmatched consulting experience. 
Tailor your education to your own professional goals with degree 
customizations including Emergency Management, Business Continuity Planning,

Computer Emergency Response Teams, and Digital Investigations. 

http://www.msia.norwich.edu/secfocus
---------------------------------------------------------------------------


---------------------------------------------------------------------------
EARN A MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION ASSURANCE - ONLINE
The Norwich University program offers unparalleled Infosec management 
education and the case study affords you unmatched consulting experience. 
Tailor your education to your own professional goals with degree 
customizations including Emergency Management, Business Continuity Planning,

Computer Emergency Response Teams, and Digital Investigations. 

http://www.msia.norwich.edu/secfocus
---------------------------------------------------------------------------



---------------------------------------------------------------------------
EARN A MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION ASSURANCE - ONLINE
The Norwich University program offers unparalleled Infosec management
education and the case study affords you unmatched consulting experience.
Tailor your education to your own professional goals with degree
customizations including Emergency Management, Business Continuity Planning,
Computer Emergency Response Teams, and Digital Investigations.

http://www.msia.norwich.edu/secfocus
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