CISSP Certification Uncertainty
Would I want to belong to a club (ISC2's CISSP certification) that had me as a member? As it turns out, I do.
April 01, 2003
I remember when I first found out about the CISSP certification back in the 1990s. To be honest, I thought it was a scam
The more I checked into it, the fishier everything seemed. To get a CISSP certification, all you had to do was pay (ISC)2 a few hundred dollars and take a test. Maybe all by itself that doesn't sound so bad. But the same piece of paper advertising the test also offered special "CISSP training seminars"
Now there's no denying that the computer security profession needed to do something in the way of certifying its practitioners. Ever since security started making big headlines in the 1990s, a growing number of "security consultants" have tried to cash in on the craze. Some of these consultants were well-established practitioners who really knew their stuff. But others were teenagers whose main claim to fame was being arrested by the FBI for breaking into a computer system. Some of these kids charged hundreds of dollars an hour. And they got it. The whole trend of hiring so-called "reformed hackers" made legitimate practitioners green with envy, and disgust.
I may be wrong, but I believe that the creation and success of the CISSP certification is largely a reaction to the market success of these former computer criminals. (ISC)2's Common Body of Knowledge for information security assures that slick kids who are good at penetration tests and not much else wouldn't be able to pass. And the emphasis on the CISSP Code of Ethics, particularly the prohibition against "association with amateurs" and "appearing to associate with criminals or criminal behavior", assures that any reformed hackers who manage somehow to pass the CISSP test can be thrown out of the club if they haven't really changed their ways.
Still, I didn't know if the CISSP certification was legit or not until I plunked down my money, trekked to New York City and sat for three hours one Saturday morning to take the test.