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Peer Pressure Drives Many To Acquire Security Certifications


Most security professionals attain security certifications for fear that if they don't have one, they'll be passed over in favor of those who do.

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And most believe that holding a certification directly influenced their job advancement--all of this according to the results of a new survey that will be disclosed next week at Black Hat USA in Las Vegas. Some 54% of the 1,350 IT security pros who participated in "The Value of Information Security Certifications Survey" said that they were either promoted or got another job based on their security certification status, while some 46% said they were not.

But security career experts say this could be more a matter of perception than reality. "Fifty-four percent believe the certification is powerful ... and a result of their advancement. I'm blown away by the perception of that," said security professional recruiter Lee Kushner of Information Security Leaders, an independent security careers website that hosted the survey. Kushner, who is president of LJ Kushner and Associates, said he sees a different reality in his day-to-day dealings in the field.

"In the world I live in, no one said, 'Hire this person because this person has a certification' or not," he said. "They hire the best person" for the job regardless of their certifications, he said.

Mike Murray, also with InfoSec Leaders and co-founder of MAD Security, said as a manager, he has never hired or promoted someone based on a certification: "I can't remember a time I've ever done that or known anyone who did that," he said.

"A lot of people believe in the value of certs. That value is because people believe in it," he said.

Three-fourths of the respondents in the survey either currently or previously have held information security certifications. Around 40 percent of the respondents "somewhat agree" that peer pressure is what motivated them to gain certification, and that it was necessary so they would not be passed over for jobs or promotions, while 15.4% said they "strongly agree" it was the impetus. More than 26% disputed that, and nearly 20% were neutral on whether certs give them a leg up professionally.

Even so, around 80% said the time and money they spent attaining certification was "a good use" of their resources, while nearly 9% said it was not.

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The vendors, contractors, and other outside parties with which you do business can create a serious security risk. Here's how to keep this threat in check. Also in the new, all-digital issue of Dark Reading: Why focusing solely on your own company's security ignores the bigger picture. Download it now. (Free registration required.)