CCNA Security Posts from the Guy Who Wrote (part of) the Book
Wendell here. I’ve asked Kevin Wallace to take a few posts to discuss CCNA Security. Please fire away all the questions you have on this new cert! Thanks…
Kevin Wallace, CCIE #7945, CCSI, CCSP, CCNP, CCDP, CCVP, is a full-time instructor of Cisco courses for SkillSoft Corp. and is an author of several Cisco Press titles. Kevin’s Cisco experience spans 19 years and includes positions as a Network Design Specialist for Walt Disney World and as a Network Manager for Eastern Kentucky University.
For months, it had been a secret. It was a brand new CCNA-level certification from Cisco. Along with one of my fellow instructors, Michael Watkins, I had co-authored the CCNA Security Official Exam Certification Guide from Cisco Press, but I couldn’t talk about it. After checking in at the Cisco Live! convention in Orlando, FL on Monday June 23rd, I hurriedly went to the Cisco Store to see if our book had been released. Instead, I saw a sign saying to check back on Tuesday after a “big announcement.”
The next morning, I was in the second row of the auditorium watching John Chambers’ (Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, Inc.) keynote address, and finally it was official. He announced that to meet increasing demand for networking skills, Cisco was expanding the CCNA program to include associate-level certifications for: security, voice, and wireless.
This is the first of two blogs addressing the CCNA Security certification, or to use the appropriate vernacular, the CCNA Security concentration. In this blog, we’ll explore how one achieves this certification, the motivators to go for it, and how this certification impacts Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) candidates. Then, in the next blog, we’ll pop the hood on this certification and identify specific content with which you should be familiar.
How to Earn the CCNA Security Cert
An initial question that Cisco wrestled with regarding the CCNA Security certification was whether or not a candidate should first possess a traditional CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certification (which can be thought of as a route/switch CCNA). One thought that was entertained was to require a candidate to have passed the ICND1 exam, without the requirement of passing the ICND2 exam (the combination of which earns one a traditional CCNA certification). However, in the end, the decision was made to require a traditional CCNA certification to earn any additional CCNA certifications (i.e. security, voice, and/or wireless), which were to be called “concentrations.”
As a reminder, there are two paths to achieve the prerequisite traditional CCNA certification. A candidate can pass the ICND1 and ICND2 exams (i.e. exams 640-822 and 640-816 respectively). Alternately, a candidate could take a single CCNA exam (i.e. exam 640-802) to earn their initial certification.
If you have the traditional CCNA under your belt, there’s only one more exam needed to earn your CCNA Security designation, and that is exam #: 640-553. The exam is based on content found in the Implementing Cisco IOS® Network Security (IINS) course.
If you’ve already taken courses such as Implementing Secure Converged Wide Area Networks (ISCW) or Securing Cisco Network Devices (SND), the great news is that you have already been exposed to much of the material covered in the IINS course. In fact, a whopping 80 percent of the IINS topic areas come from the SND course, with only 20 percent of the content representing new topic areas.
Why Earn the CCNA Security Cert?
Now that we understand the process of earning the CCNA Security certification, let’s take a step back and ask why we might want to pursue such a certification. For starters, the demand for qualified security professions is on the rise. Forrester Research notes that 80 percent of companies surveyed (worldwide) anticipate that in the next five years they will have a position in their company dedicated to security. Contrast that with the 46 percent of worldwide companies that currently have a dedicated security position.
Compensation is another motivator. TCPmag.com recently reported that the average salary for a CCSP during 2006-2007 was $93,955.
What about CCSP Candidates?
If you’ve already started to pursue the professional-level CCSP certification, does the CCNA Security impact your certification path? Maybe. If you’ve already passed the SND exam, that will count towards your CCSP certification if you complete your CCSP certification before June 23, 2009. Also, be aware that SND reaches end-of-life (EOL) status on November 17, 2008. So, if you’re currently preparing for the SND exam and would rather not shift your focus over to IINS, be aware of the time constraints.
If, however, you haven’t yet started your CCSP track, you would probably be better off beginning with the IINS (i.e. the CCNA Security) exam, since it will count towards your CCSP certification without the expiration concerns you would have with the SND exam.
How to Prepare
Since the CCNA Security certification maps directly to the IINS course, you could take the official IINS course from a Cisco Learning Partner. If you prefer to self-study, or if you wish to supplement your classroom training, you might pick up Cisco Press’ CCNA Security Official Exam Certification Guide.
In my next blog, we’ll address the specific topic areas covered on the IINS exam and what IOS® version you’ll need for your own hands-on practice. See you then!