By Alyssa Rosenberg
October 25, 2007
Certification requirements for information security professionals would
help agencies smooth the hiring process, representatives from
professional certification organizations said at a conference earlier
"As someone who hires individuals, I look for the certifications because
it shows a dedication to the profession and giving back to the company,
as well as your own personal growth," said Linda Kostic, director of
enterprise risk management at E*Trade Financial and a member of the
Information Systems Audit and Control Association.
"I think for a young professional, certifications are a good way to
validate a skill set," said Tara Dean, government business development
manager for CompTIA.
The discussion took place Tuesday as part of the Federal Information
Assurance Conference held at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The Defense Department already requires information security
professionals to obtain credentials and complete ongoing training to
keep those certifications current. The requirements are spelled out in
2004 Directive 8570.1.
"This model is being looked at across the federal spectrum as a grand
experiment to determine whether this is the appropriate thing," said
Rosey Greer, the former information assurance program manager for the
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. "[The National Institute of
Standards and Technology] has an effort under way to examine that
requirement and determine whether that can fit the entire federal
Greer cautioned that federal agencies should be careful when crafting
requirements, but stressed that credentials are a good way to test
skills and to inculcate new employees into a professional culture.
"We're trying to keep people away from the dark side," Greer said.
"They're going to be out there on the Internet, and we want to train
them to be responsible, and to help us."
Lynn McNulty, director of government affairs for (ISC)2, an information
assurance credentialing organization, said a credential should not be
taken in lieu of experience, but academic programs increasingly ensure
that the two go hand in hand.
"We have an associate program where people can come from an academic
background, sit the test, and then get put in a pool until they have the
required number of years of experience," McNulty said. "One of the
changes in the academic environment [is that] you have people who are
very, very knowledgeable, who are working in the summer or working part
time, and may be able to demonstrate that they have enough experience to
attain the credential."
In a best-case scenario, Kostic said, a certification can give an
employee a long-term sense of membership in a professional community.
"We have chapters; they're all around the world," Kostic said. "We
provide an awful lot of training."
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