Credentials could ease hiring for IT security jobs

Credentials could ease hiring for IT security jobs
Credentials could ease hiring for IT security jobs 

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 
this week.

"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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