Cybersecurity Certifications That Prepare You For Security Framework Implementation And Auditing

Cybersecurity frameworks help security professionals and organizations maintain a standard of security to protect their IT assets, network, and data integrity. It reduces the risk of a cyber-attack and helps set defined guidelines to minimize risk and recover quickly.

There are many different frameworks available today that will help you lift off your security implementations. However, for the people who are not aware, or are just entering the cybersecurity domain, the whole concept of security frameworks and their guidelines might be unknown.

If you are one of those people, then this article will certainly help you jumpstart your security career. Here, you’ll find information on which pathway to take and which cybersecurity certifications to undergo if you want to end up in a reputed digital security organization (or start your own) with a tonne of skills.

Cybersecurity Frameworks and Certifications/Trainings

When talking about certifications for cybersecurity frameworks, we do not mean the certification an organization receives after being audited by a third party.

These certifications are the certificates received by an organization which means that they comply with the said security framework. While some frameworks are used as guidelines in implementing the best security practices, some frameworks require third-party audits and certificates to receive recognition of security standards.

Instead, when referring to cybersecurity certifications, we mean the training and the courses an individual needs to take to be ready to implement the guidelines, rules, and policies suggested by the different frameworks. Such certifications will enable you to become industry-ready and implement the best practices and policies suggested by various frameworks.

What is a cybersecurity certification?

When you become certified in a cybersecurity domain, you gain the skills of performing and implementing digital security checks within networks. The scale of the networks can be both small and large. Similarly, the specialization of the particular certification impacts the scope of your skills.

For example, while one certification prepares you for implementing basic network and asset security, another prepares you for performing deep audits and checking the integrity of the in-place security system. Additionally, one cybersecurity certification will enhance your defensive skills, while the other enhances your attacking skills, like “Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP).”

That said, there are many different certifications currently available, each with its own specialization domains. Moreover, there are different, certified institutes and agencies that plan and compile these cybersecurity certifications so that the certified professionals are more than just capable of entering the cybersecurity field. These are esteemed institutes, like (ISC)2 and ISACA.

Although there are many cybersecurity certifications that you may find online, or in the institutes around you, that are popular and in demand by different organizations, those are not what we will be discussing in this post. Instead, we will be focusing on the certifications that are framework-focused. This means, that after achieving those certifications, you should be able to implement the practices from the framework’s guidelines without a hassle.

Benefits of cybersecurity certifications

Getting into the cybersecurity field might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you like spending your time on the computer, are generally tech-savvy, or the thought of hacking excites your taste pallet, then you may want to consider a career in cybersecurity.

Having a degree or certification to your name can do you wonders. It not only opens more career paths for you, but you are automatically more respected and recognized in the eyes of others. Here are a few benefits of having a few cybersecurity certifications:

  • You are not more skilled than you were before, and able to perform certain tasks that a regular user isn’t.
  • Your certificate will be globally recognized, which means that you can seek employment in any part of the world whilst those certificates are still valid.
  • You can control and manage your organization’s and your home’s network and enhance its security to prevent data breaches.
  • You will now be entitled to better salaries and compensation than those that are without the certifications. This is primarily because the certificate is tangible evidence of your skills.

Cybersecurity Certifications for Frameworks

NIST Cybersecurity Framework Lead Implementer (CSF LI)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an American governing body that created the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) which primarily focuses on private-sector IT organizations being able to better assess and improve their ability to detect, prevent, and respond to cyber-attacks.

Read more about the NIST CSF framework.

The Cybersecurity Framework Lead Implementer is a certification designed to prepare individuals for the NIST CSF framework. It validates your capability to establish a formal framework, governance, and policy for a strong cybersecurity framework by the popular NIST framework’s practices and standards.

NIST CSF has the following 5 working principles, in that order:

  • Identify
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Respond
  • Recover

If you decide to undergo the “NIST CSF LI” certification, you will be prepared to take on cybersecurity responsibilities in the aforementioned domains. By the end of it, you will have learned the following objectives of the training:

  • Have gained the skills required to implement, manage, monitor, and improve the NIST CSF in line with the defined best practices and standards.
  • Expand your cybersecurity competency.
  • Be prepared to integrate a robust NIST Cybersecurity program into an ISO 27001 Information Security Management System (ISMS).
  • Increase your credibility by gaining international recognition.
  • Improve your résumé and help to increase your earning potential.

This is a small certification that can be covered in a matter of 2-4 days. Once you are done with the preparation, you can appear for the examination which has a total of 65 questions. You must attain at least a 75% score to be Lead Implementer certified.

NIST Cybersecurity Professional (NCSP) Foundation

The NCSP Foundation is another cybersecurity certification that prepares an individual for the NIST CSF. This program teaches you how to build a Digital Value Management Overlay System, which leverages the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to deliver the secure, digital business outcomes expected by executives, government regulators, and legal advisors.

NCSP itself is a combination of multiple smaller certifications, which include Digital Business Risk Awareness, Practicioner, 800-171 Specialist, and ISO 27001 Specialist. Foundation is one of them.

This certification teaches you the following things:

  • Assess the organization’s present cybersecurity situation and identify any vulnerabilities and future requirements.
  • Design a cybersecurity program with reference controls from the NIST CSF and best practice risk management frameworks.
  • Implement a framework for continuous improvement to automate, maintain, and enhance the organization’s cybersecurity risk management procedures.

This cybersecurity certification is accredited through APMG International and listed as qualified and sufficient training by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

GIAC Critical Controls Certification (GCCC)

The GIAC Critical Controls Certification (GCCC) is centered around the CIS Control Framework. More specifically, around version 8 (v8) of the CIS Control update, which was released in May 2021.

The CIS Controls, formerly known as “Critical Security Controls,” focuses on the best practices for all-around cybersecurity defenses for a network. The GCCC enables an individual to be able to perform those best practices around the network to protect it, and the devices inside from outside threats.

When doing this certification, you will learn about the background, purpose, as well as implementation of the CIS Controls framework and all of the security standards that it includes. Getting the GCCC also covers the following areas:

  • Inventory maintenance of enterprise and software assets
  • Data protection and secure configuration of enterprise assets and software
  • User and computer account management
  • Access control management
  • Continuous vulnerability management
  • Audit log management
  • Email and web browser protections including malware defenses
  • Data recovery
  • Network infrastructure management
  • Network monitoring and defense tactics
  • Security awareness and skills training
  • Service provider management
  • Application software security
  • Incident response management
  • Penetration testing

As you can see, the GCCC is n extensive certification that covers all aspects of basic enterprise cybersecurity. From maintaining the inventory records to making sure that the digital networks are secure enough by performing penetration testing; the GCCC covers almost everything. Which is why it is one of the most sought-after certifications.

The GCCC examination is a proctored exam that lasts 2 hours. It has a total of 75 questions and you need at least 71% to get certified.

The following list of professionals can get this certification:

  • Security professionals, auditors, and risk officers
  • Information assurance auditors
  • System implementers or administrators
  • Network security engineers
  • IT administrators
  • People working with federal agencies
  • Security vendors and consultants

You can learn more about the GCCC on the GIAC website.

COBIT 5 Foundation, Implementation, Assessor

If you haven’t already guessed which security framework these certifications satisfy, it’s COBIT. There are three separate cybersecurity certifications, named the following:

  • COBIT 5 Foundation
  • COBIT 5 Implementation
  • COBIT 5 Assessor

All three of these certifications develop your skill a step further to be prepared to understand, implement, and assess the COBIT guidelines, rules, policies, and best practices, and created by the same organization that created the COBIT framework: Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA).

The COBIT 5 Foundation certification addresses core IT governance guidelines such as satisfying stakeholder demands, coordinating IT goals with long-term business goals, and creating all-encompassing governance structures that are tailored to the requirements of individual organizations.

The COBIT 5 Implementation tables an individual to implement the teachings of the COBIT security framework. By the end of the Implementation certification, an individual can apply the best practices of the COBIT framework to large-scale enterprises. These experts are now proficient in using the constant improvement life cycle to execute “Governance of Enterprise Information Technology” (GEIT).

The COBIT 5 Assessor demonstrates proficiency in executing a formal Process Capability Assessment (PCA) and interpreting it. The individual having this certificate guarantees stronger, more dependable control over internal procedures and gives stakeholders a clear view of process capabilities.

If you are looking to prepare for the COBIT framework and join the cybersecurity industry, then you may want to consider all 3 of these certifications. However, some people only opt to do the Cobit 5 Foundation certification as it gives sufficient skills to handle it if the opportunity ever arises.

Additionally, there is another certification associated with the COBIT framework: Implementing the NIST Cybersecurity Framework Using COBIT 5. As the name implies, this certification is directed towards the NIST CSF using the COBIT guidelines. Since both the NISFT CSF and the COBIT guidelines have mutual interests, this particular certification is ideal for people willing to gain the best of both worlds.

This certification teaches you how to apply the 7 implementation phases of the COBIT framework, which are the following:

  • Identify and examine change drivers.
  • Determine our position.
  • We must decide where we must go.
  • Recognize the factors that need to be improved.
  • Make plans and visualize how you’ll get there.
  • Make plans and visualize how you’ll get there.
  • How to keep the momentum going?

Closing words

There are a plethora of different certifications and training available online, and in-person at different academic schools. While some are directed towards framework compliance, other certifications each more than that, such as cloud security, overall best practices, asset protection, etc.

While this article focuses on certifications designed to satisfy various frameworks, we encourage you to explore other certifications as well and decide which one is right for you based on your end goals and achievements.

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Subhan Zafar is an established IT professional with interests in Windows and Server infrastructure testing and research, and is currently working with Itechtics as a research consultant. He has studied Electrical Engineering and is also certified by Huawei (HCNA & HCNP Routing and Switching).

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