The What, Why, and How of ECSA Certification

Okay, so you’re a white hat hacker. You’ve undergone CEH training and gained your certification. Armed with confidence and your recently acquired knowledge, you go into an interview for a position as a penetration tester or security analyst. But when the interviewer asks you about your ECSA certification, you come up short.

This begs the question: What is ECSA certification?

If you’re going to be a well-rounded security expert, there is a lot to learn. Yes, ethical hacking training is a good start, but if you want to be a more attractive prospect or just looking for ways to upskill, then you need to consider ECSA training.

This article will help you up to speed on ECSA security certification, why it’s so important, what to expect when taking the ECSA exam, and how to find ECSA-related training courses and ECSA online training. You will see why being an EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) is a smart career move.

If you’re already in a cybersecurity position, you can still benefit from learning about ECSA v10. The best professionals continue to expand their education, and taking an ECSA course will boost your marketability and skillset.

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What is ECSA?

ECSA certification is a program that builds on previous programs like the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification. It’s a certification that teaches advanced security techniques and Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT) methodologies to cybersecurity professionals.

ECSA is an excellent choice for mid-level security managers as well as security architects, security consultants, and penetration testers. Although not mandatory, many pundits in the field of cybersecurity recommend that you acquire CEH certification before getting completely involved in the ECSA process.

Incidentally, the EC-Council stands for the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants, a professional organization that certifies professionals in a range of e-business and information security skills. The EC-Council is member supported and is best known for being a professional certification body.

Why is ECSA so Important?

Think of the ECSA as a continuation of the CEH course, a more complex follow-up. It goes beyond the standard ethical hacking skill set by incorporating hands-on lab sessions dedicated to penetration testing. These sessions teach cybersecurity professionals on how to analyze the results of hacking techniques and the technological tools involved.

Consider the ECSA training course to be the second part of a three-stage process. Most cybersecurity experts begin with the CEH course mentioned earlier, then take on ECSA, and finish off with Licensed Penetration Tester certification. The IT community recognizes LPT as the last word in ethical hacking expertise. You’re seen as an accomplished expert in the field of cybersecurity if you have LPT certification.

Learning ethical hacking is a good idea, but ECSA takes you a step further and helps to distinguish you from the crowd. By gaining this certification, you show any hiring organization that you’re proficient in the skills and techniques needed to protect their systems and valuable data. ECSA is one of the five proven certifications that can significantly boost your cybersecurity career and enhance your earning power, according to a Hackread article.

What’s the ECSA Examination?

To earn your ECSA certification, you must complete a hands-on penetration testing exam made up of multiple challenges. For instance, you may have to acquire the hash of a protected file or break into a machine, tasks that you must finish within the allocated time limit.

Once you meet and beat the challenges, you then must submit a penetration testing report detailing what you did and what the best fixes are. So not only do you have to carry out a penetration exercise, you must come up with counter-measures to your previous efforts!

The actual ECSA examination comes after you have finished.

The ECSA is a four-hour exam consisting of 150 questions. There is a widespread misconception that exam takers must score at least 70 percent to pass the exam, but the actual percentage may vary according to the EC-Council information page.

The number of questions you must answer correctly to get a passing grade depends on the difficulty of the questions given to you at the time of the exam, which will differ. You may end up answering fewer questions correctly, but—because of the extraordinary difficulty of the problems in that section—you still may pass that part of the exam! Think of it as an example of quality over quantity.

The big takeaway is that you can’t depend on the exam being your standard pass/fail test based on achieving a fixed percentage. The ECSA examination is a tough test covering a very challenging field, so conventional exam methods don’t apply here.

IT professionals who should consider taking ECSA training include but are not limited to:

  • Ethical hackers
  • Firewall administrators and security testers
  • Network server administrators and system administrators
  • Penetration testers
  • Risk assessment professionals
  • Security analysts and security engineers

So if your job has anything to do with IT security, it would be a good idea to look into ECSA certification. Even if it’s not presently part of your job description, it could be at a later date. Also, if you ever want to be promoted within your organization, the ECSA would make you a more appealing choice to the powers that be!

What Are the ECSA Exam Requirements and What Are the Costs Involved?

You must attend and pass a certified ECSA training course, attend an official EC-Council training session, or furnish verifiable proof of having at least two years’ worth of information security experience to sit for the exam. If you didn’t take a training course, you must complete an eligibility form before taking the test.

Furthermore, candidates must be at least 18 years old. Candidates under 18 years of age can take it if they can provide written consent from a parent or guardian and a supporting letter from their accredited higher education institution.

If you’re going the two years’ experience route, the application fee is $100 and is non-refundable. In the other two cases, the payment is either waived or factored into the course cost.

Once your application is accepted, you have three months from the date of approval to take the exam. The EC-Council ECSA exam cost is $999. If you fail the exam, you can’t get a refund.

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Why Register With the EC-Council ECSA Anyway?

According to the EC-Council’s website, their mission is "to validate information security professionals who are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge required in a specialized information security domain that will help them avert a cyber conflict, should the need ever arise."

If you register with the EC-Council, you become part of an organization that is widely recognized and respected in the field of cybersecurity. Being a member in good standing adds extra luster to your security credentials.

Each EC-Council ECSA member must participate in continuing education, achieving 120 credits in three years (at least 20 credits per year). After the three years are up, the ECSA requires you to renew your certification by participating in the EC-Council Continuing Education (ECE) Program, as detailed on the ECSA online policy page.

What Are ECSA Jobs and Salaries Like?

According to Payscale, an EC-Council Certified Security Analyst can pull in an average of $94,000 annually. Many of them work in the capacity of a cybersecurity engineer, penetration tester, or security engineer.

Do You Want to Tackle the ECSA?

The best way to get your ECSA career off the ground is to gain as much certification in relevant fields as you can. Simplilearn can help you with its CISSP Certification course, considered the gold standard in the field of information security. This CISSP training aligns with (ISC)² CBK 2018 requirements and trains you to become an information assurance professional who defines all aspects of IT security, including architecture, design, management, and controls. Most IT security positions require or prefer a CISSP certification.

Also, Simplilearn offers CISM Certification Training to help you build your skill set. This course is an essential certification for information security professionals who manage, design, oversee, and assess enterprise information security. This CISM course, closely aligned with ISACA best practices, enables you to define and design enterprise security architecture, achieve IT compliance and governance, deliver reliable service to customers, and understand how IT security systems can contribute to broader business goals and objectives.

With certifications like these under your belt, you will be better equipped to take that ECSA course and, subsequently, pass the ECSA exam and become a certified professional. From there, you can get started on a cybersecurity career or keep on the learning track and shoot for LPT certification.

Whatever your choice is, remember that cybersecurity is a hot topic, and the demand for qualified professionals is increasing, especially amid rising fears of cybercrime. If your dream job is in cybersecurity, you will find many organizations eager to make those dreams come true.

Check out Simplilearn and get started on that dream job today!

About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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