Cybersecurity is one of the most talked about and critical topics within the IT industry, with companies urgently protecting their network, reputation, and customer confidentiality from would-be attackers.
It’s a constant battle to keep your systems, procedures, and staff up-to-date on the latest cyber security risks on a day-to-day basis. However, by understanding the variety of threats and identifying them through continual network and host traffic assessment, we stand a much better chance of defending ourselves.
To that end, Cisco has designed the CCNA Cyber Ops certification path to enable Cyber Analysts working within Security Operations Center (SOC) to identify potential threats and stop them in their tracks.
“Although no system is ever 100 percent secure, the ability to differentiate between typical network traffic and potentially harmful malware is crucial and provides the focus of this associate-level certification path,” writes Dave Petts, Lead Cisco Instructor at Firebrand Training.
Designed for security operations centers
Large organizations will either have or will be considering investing in a Security Operations Center, which is the part of an IT department responsible for network/host forensics and incident response procedures.
The CCNA Cyber Ops is composed of two modules - the SECFND and SECOPS - with two corresponding exams. Both are specifically designed to provide you with an in-depth understanding of what it’s like working within a SOC team and the role of a tier 1 or tier 2 analyst.
“The CCNA Cyber Ops certification provides a framework for an analyst to obtain the necessary skills to help monitor the network for security threats, know when to provide triage services, and either mitigate a low-level threat or follow the escalation policy if a high-level threat is detected,” adds Dave.
“Each SOC team will have its own internal structure; the CCNA Cyber Ops aims to provide knowledge and skills appropriate for every team.”
Why should you achieve the CCNA Cyber Ops?
There are many cybersecurity certifications currently available on the market and finding the right one for you will depend on a number of different factors. Each certification path will have its pros and cons, and it’s ultimately up to you to decide.
The CCNA Cyber Ops comes from Cisco, the creator of the Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching. Both Cisco and its certifications are highly regarded across the IT industry; thousands of professionals have achieved Cisco's certifications, and its equipment can be found across the globe. This legacy gives the CCNA Cyber Ops a degree of legitimacy among employers.
If you're working within a SOC, or aim to work in one, the CCNA Cyber Ops should be high on your list of qualifications to achieve. This is a niche field of work, and few certifications cover this area.
Most Cisco courses from official Cisco training providers include interactive online labs, providing you with a chance to get hands-on with the technology. The CCNA Cyber Ops is no different – “the labs are very well constructed and insightful,” adds Dave.
What’s more, the CCNA Cyber Ops also covers topics that are not specific to Cisco – making it more useful for teams which use more than just Cisco technology.
Should you avoid it?
This certification is focused on working inside a SOC team. If you’re not doing this full-time, you may not find it as worthwhile as other cybersecurity or networking certifications.
SOC teams differ from company-to-company, and while the CCNA Cyber Ops curriculum is broad, it will not cover every topic, technology, and technique used in every organization.
Launched in 2016, the CCNA Cyber Ops simply has not been around as long other Cisco certifications and does not have the same reputation as other more well-known qualifications (the CCNA Routing and Switching was announced in 1998!).
“That said, I think anybody considering moving into a Security Operations team and wishing to update their skills set should at least look at this certification path,” says Dave.
CCNA Cyber Ops and the CCNA Routing and Switching
Employers around the world recognize Cisco’s CCNA Routing & Switching certification as a must-have industry standard in networking.
Cisco is clearly hoping that the CCNA Cyber Ops certification – which also sits at the associate level – will carry as much gravitas with companies wishing to employ tier 1 or tier 2 Cyber analysts in their Security Operation Centers.
Like the CCNA Routing and Switching, there are no official prerequisites for this cybersecurity certification. However, you will benefit from having studied the CCENT certification (for an introduction to Cisco networking) and the Security+ (for an entry-level introduction to cyber security).