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Cisco Intros CCNA Cyber Ops, Offers $10M in IT Security Cert Scholarships

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Credit: Maksim Kabakou/Shutterstock

Cisco is updating and expanding its security-related certifications and offering $10 million over two years in scholarships for security certifications to qualified individuals to help grow the global talent pool in this talent-strapped area.

With a projected shortage of up to two million cybersecurity professionals by 2019, a certain level of desperation is setting into the computing industry as players of all ranks and sizes step up to try to address and narrow that gargantuan talent gap. Cisco is seeking to do its part through a number of changes to its certification portfolio, and in introducing a substantial Global Cybersecurity Scholarship program.

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First and foremost, Cisco is introducing a new CCNA certification: the CCNA Cyber Ops. This new credential aims at security analysts who work in a security operations center (SOC), to monitor systems and detect attacks.

The CCNA Cyber Ops introduces IT pros to some of the key skills needed to work in an SOC, and gives them an understanding for how responses are formulated and coordinated once an attack has been detected. This cert will stand in addition to the existing CCNA Security credential, which focuses more directly on the role of the network security administrator, who enacts security policy and helps maintain a proper security posture in a variety of organizations.

There are no prerequisites for the new CCNA Cyber Ops cert and it requires that candidates complete two exams:

  • 210-250 SECFND: Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Fundamentals
  • 210-255 SECOPS: Implementing Cisco Cybersecurity Operations

More: CCNA Cyber Ops Exam Details
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In addition, the CCIE Security credential will be revised. In fact, almost the entire CCIE portfolio is going through a revision process over the next year to accommodate a new vision of certification training that incorporates leading-edge tools and technologies in addition to current meat-and-potatoes topics. Thus, CCIE Security will address new expert-level skills to prepare security professionals to deal with evolving security threats and technologies to counter and mitigate them.

New topics to be introduced include advanced persistent threats (APTs), advanced malware protection, next-generation Intrusion Prevention Systems (next-gen IPS), virtualization, automation, and information exchange. A new assessment philosophy will also require candidates to demonstrate understanding and skills with evolving technologies, including Network Programmability, cloud, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Cisco plans to invest up to $10M over the next two years to attract more people into the field of security. Along with financial support for training and exams, Cisco will also provide mentoring that aims to help develop professionals to occupy the job role of Security Operations Center Analyst.

This program will be delivered in concert with various Cisco Authorized Learning Center partners, where the training is intended to develop and promote job-specific skills and knowledge designed to fill current and emerging challenges in network security. Women, the economically disadvantaged, and returning veterans in particular are all encouraged to apply for the program, which will attempt to support as many people as the budget will allow.

The program will be delivered in waves, where cohorts of hundreds of individuals who qualify will work through training and testing for the new CCNA Cyber Ops credential over a period of six months or so. As each wave completes, a new one will begin, so that up to four such cohorts can work through the program within the two-year period during which it will be available.

For more information and to apply for the program, please visit the Cisco Global Security Scholarship page and check out the video on the Cisco Security blog on this same topic.

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Ed Tittel

Ed is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who has worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom's Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with a special emphasis on information security, Web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.