You all know I am a big fan of the CISSP certification. (If you don't recognize that as sarcasm, please read some old posts.) I wasn't going to comment on the press release (ISC)²® to Increase Requirements for CISSP® Credential to Validate Information Security Expertise, but no one else really has.
First, a little history. The last time a requirements change was announced was January 2002, in the press release (ISC)² TO IMPLEMENT NEW CISSP REQUIREMENTS IN 2003. That article stated:
...new requirements for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, effective Jan. 1, 2003.
As of that date, the minimum experience requirement for certification will be four years or three years with a college degree or equivalent life experience. The current requirements for the CISSP call for three years of experience...
The "equivalent life experience" provision is intended for mature professionals who did not obtain a college degree but are in positions where a college degree would normally be required...
You may remember these changed were announced about a month after 16 year old Namit Merchant passed the CISSP exam, according to a December 2001 SecurityFocus report.
I passed the CISSP in late 2001 as well (I was almost 30, not 16) so all I needed was three years of relevant work experience. Since 1 January 2003, you could have three years experience plus one of the approved credentials. Those include many certs from SANS, for example.
The new requirements for the CISSP, announced this week, are:
Effective 1 October 2007, the minimum experience requirement for certification will be five years of relevant work experience in two or more of the 10 domains of the CISSP CBK®, a taxonomy of information security topics recognized by professionals worldwide, or four years of work experience with an applicable college degree or a credential from the (ISC)²-approved list.
Currently, CISSP candidates are required to have four years of work experience or three years of experience with an applicable college degree or a credential from the (ISC)²-approved list, in one or more of the 10 domains of the CISSP CBK.
I am not sure why (ISC)² is increasing the experience requirement. I don't think an five years of "experience" are going to make that much of a difference when compared to four years of experience plus a degree or credential. Honestly, equating a degree with a certification like CompTIA Security+ (on the "approved list") is really a joke, or should be.
Experience is not the only change:
Also effective 1 October, CISSP candidates will be required to obtain an endorsement of their candidature exclusively from an (ISC)²-certified professional in good standing.
Currently, candidates can be endorsed by an officer from the candidate’s organization if no CISSP endorsement can be obtained. The professional endorsing the candidate can hold any (ISC)² base certification – CISSP, Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP®) or Certification and Accreditation Professional (CAPCM).
This is an anti-fraud attempt. I think it is too late. From the rumblings I've heard, cheating on exams like CISSP is not uncommon. One bad apple can "earn" the CISSP and then "endorse" all his buddies.
Maybe (ISC)² is finally starting to behave like employed French workers, protecting those who already have the certification at the expense of those on the outside? In other words, are there too many CISSPs chasing too few jobs? The latest press release states:
“With an estimated 1.5 million people working in information security globally, the nearly 50,000 CISSPs remain an elite group of professionals that are leading this industry,” Zeitler said. “(ISC)² will continue to assess its certification criteria and processes, as well its examinations and educational programs, to ensure that remains the case.”
50,000! Less than five years ago the press release (ISC)² RECOGNIZES 10,000th CISSP said only 2,000 CISSPs were certified in 1999, and 10,000 was reached in October 2002.
I still think the CISSP exam, and the certification in general, is a waste of time. For the latest example why, read How I Prepared and Passed CISSP:
I chose a self study route, and devoted around 2 months for the preparation. Locked myself in and had very little to no time for the family, I’d told them what I was up to, both my wife and son were very supporting. Every weekday I would dedicate 3 to 4 hours, and on weekends 5 to 6 hours for preparation. The last week before exam, I took leave from work and dedicated around 12 hours straight everyday for 7 days. To cope with the physical and mental tensions I did 45 minutes yoga in the morning and 20 minutes meditation in the afternoon. I took a break or stretched for 5 to 15 minutes after every 1 or 2 hours of studies.
That is ridiculous. I would expect someone who wants to be considered as a "security professional" to be well-enough versed in the CISSP material to not require seven straight days of 12 hour studying sessions, beyond the previous seven weeks of study.
I prepared for the test in 2001 by reading the first edition of the Krutz and Vines CISSP guide, followed by the Exam Cram the night before. That was it. No boot camp, not study marathons, no weeks of study groups. I had about four years experience and I figured that if (ISC)² required three years, I should be ok. I finished the test in 90 minutes and that was it.
If you're wondering how I would replace the CISSP, please read my 2005 post What the CISSP Should Be. I think Peter Stephenson's requirements for certifications are good guidelines as well.