Cyber Security Certification & Exam Guide

Guide 1


What is Cybersecurity?
The security of your Information Technology (IT) network
from end-to-end is cybersecurity.
That’s it?
Yes, but how we do this can get very complicated.
To make this easier, let us take a look at the Confidentiality – Integrity – Availability concept.
The CIA Triad

01 Confidentiality

If you stored your critical, super private information on your IT network, but everyone could see that information, you would agree that your super private information wouldn’t be private very long. You need a way to protect your super private information, or what is called the Confidentiality of your information. Many times, we utilize encryption to protect the Confidentiality of our information on our IT networks.


02 Integrity

You have worked very hard and many hours to create a listing of the critical assets of your business. You save this information and return to the listing the next day and find that the information you saved has been changed by someone else. You would not be happy – correct? What changed? How did it change? It will take you more hours and a lot more hard work to figure out what changed. The Integrity, or the accuracy, of your listing has been affected and you are not happy.


03 Availability

Picture your IT network that cannot access the internet, cannot talk to anyone or any other computer. Not much good – right? If we eliminate Availability to communicate on the network, the network is almost worthless to us and our business. Having our network communicate to other computers and people is critical; therefore, Availability is super critical to us.
In Cybersecurity, experts determine how to protect information on IT networks, how to ensure accuracy of the information, and how to provide continuous availability of that information to those who use the information.


What is Information Security?

Guide 2
The world around us is full of information that we use, understand, and make decisions with. Most of us have paper around our homes and businesses. What kind of paper? Do you receive mail with your name, home address, and possibly other personal information inside? Did you print a document from your Information Technology (IT) network to a printer? If you have these paper documents, then you have information that is not electronically on your IT network.
It’s important to understand that not all information that we use day-to-day resides on our IT networks. Remember, Cybersecurity protects the data that resides on our electronic, IT networks. Information Security protects all of our information – even that on our IT networks. Those paper documents are protected by Information Security.
Let’s discuss ways that Information Security experts support overall security:
Guide 3
a. Did you open a door, use a key, or meet a security guard when you went to work today? These are all forms of physical security, which is a link to overall Information Security.
Guide 4
b. Have you seen or heard a fire truck responding to an emergency, maybe a fire? We use fire suppression systems and alerting devices to assist us in protecting ourselves and the information we have within our homes and businesses.
Guide 5
c. Let’s discuss an area that all of you deal with, but most never considered Information Security – laws, business 
and corporate policies, industry standards and best practices. How are these information security? Senior leaders create 
these documents or practices to support our Information Security through reduction of the risk to our facilities, our data, and 
even our personal safety.
Guide 6

The next time you go home or to work, take a look around. We live in a world of information – in our personal and professional lives. Those who would do us harm will use our information to obtain access to our world and cause confusion, frustration, and possibly, considerable personal and professional loss. Understanding Information Security through training adds tremendous value to you and your organization.

Information Security
VIS-A-VIS Cybersecurity

If you are asking, “What’s the difference, are they not the same?” The simple answer is “No”.
Guide 9
                                          Guide 7

Information Security deals with understanding risks and how we protect our information. Cybersecurity deals with protecting our Information Technology (IT) networks and data within.
Here are two approaches to see the difference between the two:

Guide 10 A.
You would agree that the computer at your home or business has a lot of information that you have created and stored within its storage devices – Correct? 
Guide 11
How do we protect this information?
We will use Cybersecurity to protect the electronic data. That’s good, but how do you keep someone from gaining access to your computer and your electronic data? That’s a very good question. 
Guide 12 
We will use Information Security to protect information within our home or business, provide user training, and ensure the right people have access to our IT networks. Information Security includes Cybersecurity since electronic information is still information. 
Guide 13
Still not convinced you understand? Let’s try another description:
Let’s assume that your home or apartment has several rooms – the kitchen, the television room, the bedroom, and maybe a bath. These rooms serve a purpose within the home or apartment.
Guide 12
Visualize that Information Security is your home or apartment – You have doors, keys, locks, possible alarm systems, and maybe a fire suppression system. You may even have a neighborhood security company that protects the outside of your home.
Guide 11
Visualize that Cybersecurity is a room in your home or apartment (i.e. the Kitchen). This specialized room supports you by providing a special function within the home.
You likely agree that if Cybersecurity is a room within the home, and the home is Information Security, then Cybersecurity is a part of Information Security. Information Security protects all information, while Cybersecurity protects the electronic information.

Types of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a diverse field that covers a wide range of security measures. A neat way to classify these measures is on the basis of what is it that is being secured. Let us take a look at the various categories below.

Application Security

Guide 16
We rely on computers and Information Technology (IT) networks to provide us everything from work, social networking, entertainment, and shopping to name a few. You likely know that many of these are provided through software programs (Amazon, Microsoft Office, Computer games) and hardware (laptops, smart phones, Bluetooth speakers). We use these everyday and those who might wish to harm us know that we depend on these.
So how do we protect ourselves while we use these programs and devices?
Have you heard of Norton or McAfee Antivirus software? Most likely you have as these are some of the biggest names in both antivirus and computer firewalls. Let’s discuss antivirus programs:
When you get sick, what does the doctor do for you? Determine what is making you sick and possibly give you medicine? You understand the medicine will make you better. An antivirus program is similar to your doctor – it looks at the illness (virus) trying to infect your computer or IT network system and provides the medicine to prevent the virus from infecting your computer further.
Guide 17
We stated that Norton and McAfee also provide computer firewalls – you ask, “What is a firewall?” I want you to think of a firewall as a large brick wall that attempts to prevent intruders from gaining access to your building. In a computer or IT network system, we use firewall applications to provide a barrier to those who wish to harm us. What kind of barrier? Not a physical barrier like a visible fence or wall, but an electronic barrier that prevents network intrusions.
Remember in Cybersecurity, we stated we use encryption to protect our computers and IT networks. How does encryption programs provide that protection? Think of encryption as scrambling information to make it unreadable or extremely difficult to understand. Encryption programs protect our information on computers and IT networks by making that information very hard to read or understand.

Cloud Security

It’s amazing that we utilize something called a ‘Cloud’ to support our computers and Information Technology (IT) networks. In fact, we have become extremely dependent upon it. We cannot, however, discuss Cloud Security until we understand what a Cloud is within our computer and IT networks. So, what is a Cloud?
Guide 18
Just like real clouds in the sky, a computer or IT network cloud is an entity that ‘visibly’ exists in the IT world, but just 
like real clouds in the sky, you can’t say that there’s a one-size, fits all category for it. A computer or IT network cloud can change shape, size, and characteristics to match the environment desired by those who utilize them. Interesting! It has the ability to adapt and change within seconds to meet your needs – just like a real cloud in the sky can alter its shape based upon its environment.
Guide 19
We use the cloud (like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure) to store and manage our vast array of information. If you have ever used Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Apple’s iCloud, then you have used the cloud to store your information or data. Cool, huh?
Guide 20

Cloud Security
 protects our information in the cloud through applications that:

Guide 21

1. Identify those who should have access to our information stored in the cloud

Guide 22

2. Prevent unauthorized use of our information

Guide 23

3. Protect our information through strong security measures


The use of the cloud is critical to our everyday personal and professional lives and we rely on cloud security to secure and protect our information.
Guide 24

Infrastructure Security

Every day we rely on critical infrastructure to support our lives – traffic lights,
hospitals, electricity through the electrical grid. In fact, we cannot imagine a world that does not have these ‘modern’ conveniences.
Guide 25Some refer to days without electricity or running water as ‘the stone age.’ Critical infrastructure dates back to the Roman Empire and the aqueduct systems.
Why is critical infrastructure a type of Cybersecurity?
1. Although critical infrastructure dates back to the Roman Empire, the use of Information Technology (IT) to support and enhance critical infrastructure is much more recent – in the late 1900s. Much like the vulnerability of IT networks to possible attacks, our use of IT to support critical infrastructure makes them vulnerable to attacks.
2. Can you imagine your electric company being attacked through the IT network? What could happen? You could lose your power – how do you like life without electricity? Not good, right? What about your water supply? If attackers stopped the flow of water to your home by shutting down the pumps, how do you take a shower or get a drink of water? You don’t.
3. Infrastructure Security focuses on programs (software applications) and computer devices (hardware) to: a. Identify and detect events taking place in our IT networks that might affect our critical infrastructure systems, and protect those systems with electronic barriers against those who would do them harm.
4. Infrastructure Security supports laws, regulations, and standards that enhance companies and governments ability to adopt methods of limiting the impacts to us if we are attacked:
a. Backup generators and alternate work locations in the situation our environment becomes unusable (no water or electricity).
b. Physical security around our critical infrastructure areas like water, electricity, hospitals, and food production.

Network Security

Guide 26
Many businesses with even a small number of employees have an Information Technology (IT) network to support its operations.
Guide 27
Can you imagine the cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining many copies of Microsoft Office on every computer within your company?
Guide 28
Many networks have a central repository of common, shared programs (Microsoft Office, Adobe) that allow rapid installation and maintenance.
Guide 29
Networks also tie our individual IT equipment (computers, laptops, printers, scanners) together allowing quick, efficient deployment of programs and assets.
Now that you know more about a network, it’s time to discuss Network Security. What is it? How does it work? How does it support our cybersecurity effort? All great questions – let’s answer them:
Guide 30
Network Security seeks to protect our internal networks through prevention, detection, and correction of intrusions – I know your question, “What’s an ‘internal’ network?” Many experts state that the ‘External’ network is the Internet – that part of your business network which you don’t have direct control over. If the ‘External’ network is that portion of your business network you don’t have control over, then the ‘Internal’ network is that which you do have direct control over.
Where’s that ‘Easy’ button!
Network Security uses many types of software and hardware assets to support its function.
Guide 31
a. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
by harnessing the power and speed of the computer (yes, it’s much faster than a human), the network rapidly scans our networks to identify intrusions and bad situations (called anomalies).
guide 32
b. Vulnerability Management programs-
scuba diving at night in the ocean – trust me, you feel vulnerable! Well, vulnerability management looks into our internal networks to identify those areas which might be susceptible or vulnerable to an intrusion.
Guide 33
c. Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems-
software and hardware devices that constantly search and notify us of intrusions.
Like a hand in a glove, Network Security is integral to cybersecurity with its focus on maintaining the security of our internal networks.


Internet of Things (IoT) Security

It is amazing how every facet of our lives are being scrutinized and devices which have computer chips are being created and placed in most homes and businesses to make our lives easier, more connected. If you go to an appliance store, you will find ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, and washer and dryers that utilize the power of the internet to allow you to control their actions from a smart device, or do activities more efficient. In a recent commercial, a man was in a grocery store and could not remember if he had milk – he logged into his refrigerator at home and used the internal camera to see if there was milk inside. Really? How about our home security systems, cameras, thermostats? Do you have Alexa in your home? “Hey Alexa, get me a soda from the smart refrigerator – I see I have one in there from the camera inside.” NOPE! Alexa can’t do that yet.
Guide 34
What are we talking about? We know we have these devices in our homes, but what do cybersecurity experts call these devices – Internet of Things (IoT). As a society, we have become use to ‘things’ that utilize the internet to provide us information, entertainment, or assistance. These devices are not necessarily connected to our Information Technology (IT) networks. Some devices connect directly to your smart device using a different connection capability called ‘Bluetooth’. Bluetooth uses a wireless signal that is very short range to normally communicate between two devices (a smart phone and wireless headsets or a smart toy).
Internet of Things (IoT) Security is focused on protecting our IT networks when IoT devices are connected. How much security do you believe is built into a $10 smart toy? Not much, if any. The problem with this $10 smart toy is that it could be vulnerable to an attack, and if it is connected to your IT network – well, guess what? You’ve been attacked by an intruder.
So how do we protect ourselves if IoT devices are everywhere?
Guide 35
1. Training – the more you know about the vulnerabilities of IoT devices, hopefully, the more you will be smart in how you use them.
Guide 36
2. Limited use on our IT networks – Genius! So why don’t we simply not use them on our networks? Problem solved right? No. Remember, one of the major three components of cybersecurity is Availability. That’s right – people want their IoT devices.
Guide 37
3. Increased protection on our IT networks specifically tailored to look for IoT device vulnerabilities. That’s easier said than done since we are constantly changing our IoT devices and how we use them.


Is Cybersecurity for..

There are many who would like to get into Cybersecurity but find the market full of certifications and technical jargon. They search to find the right certification, the right training organization, and a way to gain the experience needed to pursue a career they desire. Let’s look at several questions and attempt to lift the veil of technical jargon and understand how to get into cybersecurity.
How do I understand the importance of a certification?
Certifications inform employers and cybersecurity experts that you have both the experience and knowledge that the certification covers. Certifications don’t replace experience – they complement experience prerequisites
Working in a different career field or just finished school – how do I get into cybersecurity?
1. First, congratulations on your career path to date – it takes dedication and perseverance to achieve what you have so far. Guess what? The perseverance you have displayed is what it takes to make a career change or pursue a life as a cybersecurity expert
2. Cybersecurity has so many different paths – forensics, malware analysis, vulnerability management, incident response, etc. For certain, there are hundreds of titles for various positions. A good reference is the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework – it identifies those career fields that are fully recognized as the foundation of all other cybersecurity career areas
3. Lastly, what interests you ? Seriously – what really intrigues you? If you like crime scene investigations and getting into the understanding of cybercrime and finding the ‘bad guy’, then Forensics may be your area. The primary key to getting into cybersecurity is finding what you really like to do and understand – promise, there’s a cybersecurity area that deals with what you enjoy. Why can we say that? Because Information Technology (IT) permeates everything we do – cybersecurity protects IT
Are you saying there’s no correct answer? No, we’re saying there’s so many different answers that no answer fits all possibilities
Here’s what you need to do:
  1. What interests you – not your friends, family, or significant others – just you! Give yourself a Top-3 list

  2. Look at NIST NICE references or other cybersecurity websites – which cybersecurity career fields match to each of your Top-3

  3. Research (Google, GreyCampus) these cybersecurity career fields – identify the requirements for your Top-3

  4. Don’t procrastinate – make a decision and pursue your dream! Cybersecurity is fun, rewarding, and challenging
CyberSecurity Certifications

Path to Certification

Guide 38Where do I start?
Most want to know the answer to that question – in fact, almost every cybersecurity expert in the industry today has asked that question more than once. Remember – you are not alone in wanting to know. In fact, you will likely search for this answer many times as you become more involved with cybersecurity. Understanding cybersecurity and the path that guides you to your career goal is circular – let’s explain.
1. Where am I now?
Your experience whether in technical or non-technical brings valuable insights into cybersecurity. Some of the best experts in the industry were musicians, artists, journalists – it’s not how technical you are, it’s how you pursue your goals
2. What education and training do I need?

Guide 39
a. Much of this depends on how you learn – are you a classroom-style learner? Visual learner? Virtual learner? Book learner? Practice-exam learner? So many different methods these days – what works best for you?
Guide 40
b. Education is a formal program similar to college – typically longer in duration with a very structured format
Guide 41
b. Training is a semi-formal program that supports shorter duration (a few days to few weeks) courses that are more focused than education
  •  Certification programs are likely training-style
3. If certifications, education, or training don’t replace experience – how do I get the experience?
a. Some career fields have beginner or starter positions – help desk, entry-level analysts, technicians
b. Each career field has different certification requirements – obtaining some certifications require little to no experience
You never stop learning – even after you obtain the experience and certifications, you need to continuously support your understanding of the global cybersecurity environment. The world is changing – and so must you!
Now, based on your target focus area and level of competence, let us discuss certain cornerstone certifications, both entry-level and advanced.

Entry-Level Certifications

Guide 42Choosing the right certification for your entry into cybersecurity is important, but don’t fear if you select one that is not perfect. Most cybersecurity experts have many certifications to represent many different focus areas. What we need to do is identify those certifications that cover a broad range of areas, allowing you to seek a career in an entry-level position and gain both the experience in cybersecurity, and knowledge of addition certifications to pursue over time. All of these certifications require little to no experience to get started.
1. CompTIA is an organization that specializes in entry-level certifications, many are cybersecurity related
a. A+, Network+, Server+ – these certifications provide you the initial understanding of IT systems. Many beginning IT and cybersecurity individuals take these certifications to certify that they understand the basics of an IT network
b. Security+ – this is the first certification that most cybersecurity experts pursue. The Security + states that an individual has spent considerable time researching and studying cybersecurity and has gained a very good understanding of the basics and has some knowledge at the intermediate levels
2. EC-Council is an organization that primarily focuses on vulnerability assessments and analysis
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – the CEH states that you have a basic understanding of penetration testing (looking at a computer network and finding the weak areas within). Many cybersecurity experts begin with this certification, especially if they seek to become a Security Control Assessor
3. Cisco is an organization that has for decades supported the creation and implementation of IT networks, switches, and routers
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) – provides valuable insights into the basics of how networks operate. Most signals that travel within a network need to be switched or routed to their destinations. Understanding how networks work is vital for a cybersecurity expert in devising how to protect the network

Advanced-Level Certifications

Guide 43You are already a cybersecurity practitioner and possibly an expert in several cybersecurity domains. Fantastic, we have both information and certifications that can support your continued growth within the industry. Most advanced-level cybersecurity certifications focus around specialization – seeking to understand specific areas at a greater depth than surface-level; however, there are a few broad certifications that are superb, advanced-level certifications to obtain. All of these certifications require experience to earn the certification or to become fully certified.
1. CompTIA is an organization that specializes in entry-level certifications, but does have one that meets the intermediate/advanced-level
CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) – the CASP+ is a very technical-based certification that addresses your knowledge of Command Line Basics (Unix-based code), network operations, and advanced, cybersecurity support requirements
2. ISACA is an organization that focuses on cybersecurity within a business; seeking to ensure understanding of how cybersecurity involves and is impacted by business decisions and senior management
a. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – addresses how cybersecurity strategy and operations mesh with business decisions – addresses the symbiotic relationship that must be nurtured
b. Certified Information System Auditor (CISA) looks at cybersecurity from the perspective of an auditor, or as a business preparing for a cybersecurity audit. Cybersecurity audits are critical to our defense-in-depth and understanding of where our security gaps are
3. (ISC)2 is an organization that has many of the global, Gold-Standard certifications for cybersecurity – both broad scope and focused; heralded as the prime certifications for most Federal and State governments, Military, and commercial entities
a. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – the gold-standard, broadscoped, cybersecurity certification focusing on all eight of the recognized cybersecurity domains (or areas of knowledge)
b. Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) – the gold-standard, cloud-based certification focused on non-specific cloud environments, operations, and security
Guide 44

Career Options in Cybersecurity

You’ve done your research on cybersecurity, looked at various cybersecurity certifications, and have decided that you are ready to embrace a career in cybersecurity. Fantastic, but it appears that you have a few more questions:

1. Am I ready to make a move into cybersecurity? Do I need a college degree? Do I need to have a technical background?
Great questions – let’s take a look at the answers:
a. You’ve conducted hours of research on cybersecurity, certifications, and possible career opportunities within cybersecurity, and you are excited and motivated to get started – then it looks like cybersecurity might be a great choice for you
b. No, you don’t need a college degree
c. No, you don’t need a technical background – there are technical aspects to cybersecurity, but creativity and the ability to ‘think outside the box’ are extremely important traits or skills of a cybersecurity expert
2. I’ve worked in a non-cyber, non-IT career field for many years – is it too late to change my career to cybersecurity?
No, it’s never too late – we have cybersecurity experts who started their career in human resources, logistics, or project management, plus many others.
3. Who should pursue a cybersecurity certification?
Anyone who has an interest in cybersecurity – some certifications require experience, some do not. Review our information on Entry-Level and Intermediate/Advanced cybersecurity certifications – this will provide valuable information on certification organizations and the certifications that could support your desire to be in cybersecurity
4. What jobs are available to a cybersecurity expert?
There are far too many to name them all, but Cyber Defense Analyst, Information Assurance Analyst, Vulnerability Management Analyst, Security Engineer, Forensics, Malware Analyst, Penetration Tester, Security Controls Assessor – there are dozens of different titles and positions that are in high demand within the government, military, and commercial sectors

How to prepare for Cybersecurity?

There are so many organizations promoting their cybersecurity training – which is best? You likely know the answer already – it depends. Not the answer you were looking for? We understand, so let’s discuss this question and why it depends:
1. Are you an ‘in class, bootcamp-style’ learner?
Many cybersecurity students need that face-to-face interaction with an instructor, especially an instructor who provides the information in a way that makes the material relevant to today, as well as an instructor who is dynamic – interacting with each student in a way that best meets all students requirements for learning
2. Are you a ‘virtual’ learner?
Some cybersecurity students want to learn in the comfort of their homes, or they are at work and cannot leave their desk for a week to attend an ‘in class’ course. The virtual environment allows interaction with an instructor either in a visual, audio, or both format. The virtual environment does limit the amount of interaction you have with the instructor, but many virtual platforms have superb methods of enhancing the interaction to provide that feedback to and from the instructor
3. Do you only want the original certification organization (for the CISSP that would be (ISC)2) to present the course to you?
In most situations this is a viable option, however, the cost for the course can be much higher than from a qualified organization presenting certification materials that provide similar quality materials
4. Are you seeking the cybersecurity certification with the best value to you, and to your organization?
There are many certification organizations that provide high quality certification courses that equal or sometimes exceed the original certification organization’s course. These certification organizations may enhance the learning experience with highly skilled instructors, labs, webinars, workshops, course study materials, and practice exams
When choosing a certification training organization, ask yourself if they meet your needs in a way that you can learn the best.


Did you know that most cybersecurity experts stated, “It’s not if we’ll be attacked, it’s when we will be attacked”. All we have to do is look around – listen to the news, read the headlines, look at history. Most attacks go unpunished and result in gains of prestige and significant monetary funds.
Guide 45
Did you know that there are hundreds of cyber-attacks per day around the world? That number could be in the thousands if a true accounting was completed of all known and unknown attacks. Really, you say? Let’s pose a question – assume that you could legitimately (100% lawful), make $10,000 by conducting 20 phone calls to possible connections and just asking a simple question – nothing to sell and no pressure. Would you do this? Most of you would. So, why is it so hard to believe that a threat (someone or something who would do us harm) would take $10,000 of your monies by simply gaining access to your computer? You might report, but doubtful that you or anyone else would catch the cyber thief.
Cyber attacks target people, computer systems, governments, and industry (just a few):
1. In 2014, Russian hackers gained billions of user names and passwords. Credit card data from banks (JP Morgan Chase among others) are stolen
2. In 2015, suspected Russian efforts shutdown Ukrainian electrical power, and another disrupted French television networks
3. In 2016, the Petya ransomware attacked worldwide. A botnet (a very large array of internet devices) caused a major availability problem for Netflix, Paypal, and others
4. In 2017, Equifax had 143 million customer records stolen. WannaCry ransomware affected hundreds of thousands
5. In 2018, major brands – British Airways, MyFitnessPal, and Facebook had data stolen from internal databases costing millions
6. In 2019, millions of cyber records stolen from Bulgarian National Revenue Agency, Fortune 500 companies, and Marriott-Starwood brands



Guide 46
Staying connected and informed is very important to a cybersecurity expert. Our need to understand the environment (threats, new capabilities, old concerns) provides us both a sense of awareness and drives us to gain new training and experience to support the ever-changing Information Technology (IT) world.
We stay connected in many of the same ways you stay connected with our News, and Blogs. Let’s take a
 look at each:
News – did you know that most crime reported is really only about 10% of the actual crime that occurs? Most are never reported. The same can be stated about cybercrime. The three major reasons for non-reporting of cybercrime are:
a. Didn’t know – many cybercrimes go unnoticed for days, weeks, months, and even years
b. Wasn’t required to report – didn’t see this as a big deal and wasn’t required to tell anyone – we didn’t
c. Reputation expense too great – if we report, we won’t be trusted or our brand will be tarnished
Blogs – many times an organization, researcher, or expert will create a running discussion (called a blog) on a topic or list of topics.
a. Digital Guardian – focuses on data protection and threat research
b. The Hacker News – provides up-to-date insights on technology and how that affects the global network
c. Threatpost – an independent look at cybersecurity and the threats and vulnerabilities within