CompTIA Security+ is a globally recognized certification that validates the essential skills and knowledge required to perform core security functions and pursue a career in cybersecurity. It is one of the most popular and widely adopted entry-level security certifications in the industry, with more than 600,000 certification holders worldwide. In this article, we will explain what CompTIA Security+ is, what are its advantages and disadvantages, and how it compares with other similar certificates.
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What is CompTIA Security+?
CompTIA Security+ is a vendor-neutral certification that covers the fundamental concepts and best practices of cybersecurity. It is designed for IT professionals who have at least two years of experience in IT administration with a focus on security, or equivalent training. CompTIA Security+ covers six domains that reflect the current trends and challenges in the cybersecurity field:
- Threats, Attacks and Vulnerabilities: This domain covers the types, techniques, and indicators of compromise of various cyberattacks, such as malware, phishing, denial-of-service, social engineering, etc. It also covers the tools and methods used to assess and mitigate vulnerabilities in systems and networks.
- Architecture and Design: This domain covers the principles and concepts of secure design and architecture for different environments, such as enterprise, cloud, mobile, IoT, etc. It also covers the implementation and configuration of security technologies and controls, such as firewalls, VPNs, encryption, authentication, etc.
- Implementation: This domain covers the installation and deployment of security solutions and devices, such as identity and access management, cryptography, wireless security, public key infrastructure, etc. It also covers the troubleshooting and maintenance of security systems and devices.
- Operations and Incident Response: This domain covers the procedures and processes for monitoring and securing hybrid environments, such as logging, auditing, scanning, patching, backup, recovery, etc. It also covers the incident response lifecycle, including detection, analysis, containment, eradication, recovery, and reporting.
- Governance, Risk and Compliance: This domain covers the policies and frameworks for managing security governance, risk, and compliance in an organization. It also covers the legal and ethical aspects of cybersecurity, such as regulations, standards, codes of conduct, etc.
- Software Development Security: This domain covers the security aspects of software development, such as secure coding practices, testing methods, deployment models, etc. It also covers the common vulnerabilities and threats in software applications, such as injection attacks, cross-site scripting, buffer overflows, etc.
To earn the CompTIA Security+ certification, you need to pass a single exam that consists of 90 multiplechoice and performance-based questions. The exam is 90 minutes long and has a passing score of 750 on a scale of 100 to 900. The exam costs $392 USD to register.
Explore Resources to Prepare for CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam
What are the advantages of CompTIA Security+?
CompTIA Security+ has many benefits for IT professionals who want to start or advance their career in cybersecurity. Some of these benefits are:
- It provides a solid foundation of cybersecurity skills that are applicable to any IT role or industry.
- It demonstrates your competency and credibility to employers, clients, and peers in the cybersecurity field.
- It prepares you for more advanced or specialized cybersecurity certifications, such as CompTIA CySA+, CompTIA PenTest+, or CISSP.
- It meets the requirements of many organizations and government agencies that mandate or prefer security certifications for their employees or contractors. For example, CompTIA Security+ is approved by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to meet directive 8140/8570.01-M requirements. It is also compliant with ISO 17024 standards.
- It enhances your career prospects and earning potential in the cybersecurity market. According to CompTIA’s research, the average salary for CompTIA Security+ certified professionals in the U.S. was $81,467 in 2020. The most common job roles for CompTIA Security+ certified professionals were systems administrator, network administrator, security administrator, security engineer, and security analyst.
What are the disadvantages of CompTIA Security+?
CompTIA Security+ is not without its drawbacks or limitations. Some of these are:
- It is an entry-level certification that does not cover advanced or specialized topics or skills in cybersecurity. It may not be sufficient or relevant for some job roles or organizations that require higherlevel or vendor-specific certifications.
- It is a vendor-neutral certification that does not focus on any particular technology or product. It may not provide enough practical or hands-on experience with specific tools or platforms that are commonly used in the cybersecurity field.
- It has a relatively high cost compared to some other entry-level certifications. The exam fee of $392 USD may be a barrier for some candidates who have limited budget or resources.
- It has a relatively short validity period compared to some other certifications. The certification expires after three years and requires renewal by either taking the latest exam or earning Continuing Education (CE) credits.
How does CompTIA Security+ compare with other similar certificates?
There are many other certifications that are similar to CompTIA Security+ in terms of level, scope, or content. Here are some of the most common ones and how they compare with CompTIA Security+:
- Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate (CCNA CyberOps): This is a vendor-specific certification that focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to work as an associate-level cybersecurity analyst in a Security Operations Center (SOC). It covers topics such as security concepts, security monitoring, hostbased analysis, network intrusion analysis, and security policies and procedures. It requires passing two exams: Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals (200-201 CBROPS) and Implementing and Operating Cisco Cybersecurity Operations (210-255 SECOPS). The exams cost $300 USD each.
- EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): This is a vendor-neutral certification that focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to perform ethical hacking and penetration testing. It covers topics such as hacking methodologies, tools, techniques, and countermeasures. It requires passing one exam: Certified Ethical Hacker (312-50). The exam costs $950 USD.
- (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP): This is a vendor-neutral certification that focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to implement, monitor, and administer IT infrastructure in accordance with information security policies and procedures. It covers topics such as access controls, security operations, risk identification, incident response, cryptography, network security, and systems security. It requires passing one exam: Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP). The exam costs $250 USD.
The table below summarizes some of the key differences and similarities among these certifications: CompTIA Security+ Entry Neutral 6 1 $392 USD 3 years CCNA CyberOps Entry Cisco 2 2 $600 USD 3 years CEH Intermediate Neutral 1 1 $950 USD 3 years SSCP Intermediate Neutral 7 1 $250 USD 3 years.
Jobs where you may apply after certification
- Business Analyst
- System Administrator
- IT Support Manager
- Security Administrator
- Tier II IT Support Technician
- Cybersecurity Analyst
Recommended Resources to Prepare Exam
CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-601 Study Guide
Author: Darril Gibson
Buyers have access to free online resources, including:
- Additional practice test questions using an online testing engine via your browser
- Online labs (including a lab to create a bootable USB to boot into Linux)
- Downloadable extras
Inside this text, Darril Gibson covers:
- IT Security Basics
- Control Types and Methods
- Basic and Advanced Network Security
- Securing Hosts, Applications, and Data
- Malware and Social Engineering
- Advanced Attacks
- Managing Risk
- Business Continuity
- Security Policies and Operational Security
CompTIA Security+: SY0-601 Certification Guide: Complete coverage of the new CompTIA Security+ (SY0-601) exam to help you pass on the first attempt, 2nd Edition
Author: Ian Neil
Insite this text, Ian Neil covers:
- Understanding Security Fundamentals
- Implementing Public Key Infrastructure
- Investigating Identity and Access Management
- Exploring Virtualization and Cloud Concepts
- Monitoring, Scanning, and Penetration Testing
- Understanding Secure and Insecure Protocols
- Delving into Network and Security Concepts
- Securing Wireless and Mobile Solutions
- Identifying Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities
- Governance, Risk, and Compliance
- Managing Application Security
- Dealing with Incident Response Procedures
- Mock Exam 1
- Mock Exam 2
CompTIA Security+ Study Guide: Exam SY0-601 8th Edition
Author: Mike Chappel and David Seidl
Mike Chapple and David Seidl walk you through the fundamentals of crucial security topics, including the five domains covered by the SY0-601 Exam:
- Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities
- Architecture and Design
- Operations and Incident Response
- Governance, Risk, and Compliance
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CompTIA Security+ is a valuable certification for IT professionals who want to gain a solid foundation of cybersecurity skills and pursue a career in this field. It has many advantages, such as global recognition, credibility, career opportunities, and salary potential. It also has some disadvantages, such as high cost, short validity, and limited scope. It also has some similarities and differences with other similar certifications, such as CCNA CyberOps, CEH, and SSCP.
If you are interested in earning the CompTIA Security+ certification or learning more about it, you can visit the CompTIA Security+ website.