What is CISSP: The Best Guide to the CISSP Certification

In the current era, information security management in companies has become extremely challenging. The number of data security breaches are increasing every second even as you read this article; there is a breach happening in some part of the world right now. This can be owed to the sky-high increase in the number of digital devices and networks. 

The presence of information security experts in-house helps organizations manage their IT processes effectively. A CISSP professional tops the list in this field. In this What is CISSP tutorial, you will have a complete insight into the CISSP course certification. These are the essential topics that will be covered in this what is CISSP tutorial:

  1. What is the need for a CISSP certification?
  2. What is CISSP?
  3. CISSP certification requirements
  4. All about the CISSP exam
  5. CISSP Tutorial - Domains
  6. Benefits of a CISSP certification
  7. How can Simplilearn help you?
  8. Are you ready to become CISSP certified? 

What Is the Need for a CISSP Certification?

Before we jump into what is CISSP , let us get an understanding of why CISSP is even important and how it came into existence. With the rise of data, companies are investing and focusing on cybersecurity to protect all their data. Cybersecurity is booming worldwide currently. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, “Cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015.” This massive increase in the numbers speaks for the current state of affairs. 

Companies look for certified professionals who can protect their data from unauthorized access. Cybersecurity certifications are provided once an individual clears the required exam. These certifications hold paramount importance in an individuals’ career. There are several cybersecurity certifications like CCNA, CompTIA Security+, CISM, CISA, CEH, and CISSP, to name a few. The CISSP certification is one of the toughest and most sought-after certifications.                                                                   

In this what is CISSP tutorial , we will focus on the CISSP certification, which is an advanced level certification. According to reports, compared to the other cybersecurity professionals, the demand for CISSP certified professionals is multiplying, and there are more job postings for them. 

Being CISSP certified manifests that you are in the top league of cybersecurity professionals in the world, in terms of both knowledge and experience. The CISSP certification has also become a prerequisite for many careers in the information security field.

If you have relevant work experience in the cybersecurity field and are passionate about growing and be at the top in your field, the best call to take would be to become a CISSP certified professional. Now that you know the demand for CISSP certified professionals, let's move onto the next topic in this what is CISSP tutorial and understand what exactly CISSP is?

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What is CISSP?

Here’s the answer to the most important question - what is CISSP! Certified Information Systems Security Professional is more often called CISSP. This advanced level of certification is considered the gold standard in the field of information security. It is a globally recognized certification offered by (ISC)2. (ISC)2 is known to be the world’s leading organization specializing in certifications and training for professionals in the cybersecurity domain. 

The CISSP certification is taken up by IT professionals; it trains a candidate to become an information assurance professional. Taking up the CISSP certification will help you define the design, architecture, controls, and management of highly secure business environments. You will be called a CISSP professional only after you successfully pass the CISSP exam. Currently, the United States has the highest number of CISSP certified professionals. This CISSP tutorial will brief you on the current CISSP curriculum. 

CISSP is not an easily achievable certification; there are several prerequisites for giving the exam. Let’s have a look at the exam requirements.

CISSP Certification Requirements

Now that you have understood what is CISSP, you also need to know all the certification requirements. Before deciding to take up the CISSP exam, it is useful if you confirm whether it is the right certification for you or not. And if it is aligned with your career goals. 

The points mentioned below are the essential areas to look into before giving the CISSP exam (because only know what is CISSP won’t be enough):

  • The candidate must have at least five years of work experience in two or more of the eight domains of CISSP. 
  • If you hold a four-year college degree or an advanced degree as recognized under the (ISC)2 list, then four years of work experience will be enough.
  • The work experience can also be reduced to four years if you hold an (ISC)² approved certification.
  • As mentioned earlier, CISSP is considered to be an advanced level cybersecurity certification. Before considering attempting the CISSP exam, it is advised that the candidate clears the primary level and the managerial level certifications like CCNA, CompTIA Security+, CEH, CISM, and CISA, to name a few. 
  • Only those candidates who have relevant work experience can take up the CISSP exam. Professionals working as Security Consultants and Managers, Network and Security Architects, IT Directors, Security Auditors, and Chief Information Security officers can take up the CISSP certification.
  • It is also possible for candidates without experience to take up the exam. But in such a scenario, they won’t immediately receive the CISSP label. Instead, they will obtain an Associate of (ISC)2 certification. They can get the CISSP tag once they earn the required work experience. 

Now let’s move on to the next part of the ‘what is CISSP’ tutorial that is all about the CISSP Exam.

All About the CISSP Exam

The CISSP certification is developed by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2. Here are a few things to remember regarding the CISSP Exam:

  • You would have to pay an exam fee of 699 dollars to take up this exam. 
  • The duration of this exam is 6 hours. 
  • The total number of questions to be answered in 6 hours are 250 questions. 
  • The exam consists of multiple-choice questions. 
  • To pass the exam, you must get a minimum score of 700 out of 1000.

The CISSP exam contains questions that are spanned over eight broad domains. CISSP tutorial is not complete unless and until you have understood all the eight domains of CISSP. Let’s look closely at these domains in the next section of the what is CISSP tutorial.

What Is CISSP Tutorial - Domains

The CISSP certification is grouped into eight domains. The broad spectrum of topics included in CISSP ensures its relevance across all disciplines in information security. Successful candidates are competent in these domains.

These eight domains deal with different aspects of Information Security. We will have a look into each of these individually, and understand what each of these domains symbolizes.

1. Security and Risk Management 

This domain mainly consists of the fundamentals of security policies, compliance law and regulations, professional ethics, risk management, and threat modeling. The following approaches are adopted to implement cybersecurity:

  • Compliance-based: Here, security measures are decided based on regulations.
  • Ad-hoc: In ad-hoc, security measures are based on no specific criteria.
  • Risk-based: In risk-based, security measures are based on unique risks depending on the organization.

Another vital part of information security is the CIA triad model. To protect the information within a company, Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability (CIA) security model is designed. 

In this model, ‘C’ stands for confidentiality, ‘I’ for integrity, and ‘A’ for availability. Confidentiality, integrity, and availability have proven to be the industry standard for information security for a long time. 

  • Confidentiality - It means that information and functions can be accessed only by authorized parties. For example, military secrets. 
  • Integrity - Here, information and features can be added, altered, or removed only by authorized people and means.
  • Availability - Systems, functions, and data must be available on-demand according to agreed-upon parameters.

Now that we have understood the CIA triad let's have a look at the GRC Trilogy. Organizations adopt this trilogy with the motive of aligning IT objectives with business objectives.

  • Governance - Such a program ensures that goals are achieved, provides strategic plans, and so on. Governance is taken care of by the senior professionals of an organization
  • Risk management - Here, the organizations look into mitigating all types of risks such as investment, physical, and cyber risks
  • Compliance -  Compliance refers to abiding by the defined laws and regulations. 

The senior management of an organization develops a security policy that is implemented to achieve the organization’s goals. Let's have a look at the characteristics of these security policies: 

  • Firstly, these policies should align with the vision and mission of the company.
  • Secondly, these policies must integrate all the business units.
  • Thirdly, they should also be regularly updated. 
  • Lastly, these security policies should be easy to comprehend, and this allows everyone to abide by them without any issues.

In this CISSP tutorial, we will be looking into the risk management part as well. A risk analysis team is also formed in an organization to perform the analysis of each known risk. The team first 

assesses the value of the company’s assets, then there is an analysis made based on the risks to assets, and finally, the team discovers solutions to mitigate these risks.

So, that was all about the first domain of CISSP - Security and Risk Management. Let’s go ahead and look into the second domain of CISSP, which is Asset Security. 

2. Asset Security 

The second domain of CISSP- asset security, is about dealing with the collection and protection of assets such as data, and devices. Asset security comprises of the following steps:

  • Data Classification - Here, first, the data owner classifies the data. This classification is carried out based on a set of predefined criteria. After which the classification is annually reviewed to see if there has to be some change or not.
  • Data Management - This manages the information lifecycle needs of an enterprise effectively. It ensures data validity, integrity, and also makes sure that the data complies with the set standards.
  • Data Remanence - This is a term used for the residual of digital data that is present, despite trying to erase it. This should be prevented as data should be destroyed. Methods like overwriting and destruction, tackle data remanence. 
  • Data Loss Prevention - Asset security also looks into data loss prevention. In this step, multiple measures and risk assessments are carried out to ensure that data is only available to authorized users. 

That was asset security; let's now move forward and look at the third domain of CISSP in this CISSP tutorial which is security engineering.

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3. Security Engineering

The third domain is security engineering. This domain focuses on security architecture, security models, cryptography, and physical security.

The security engineering domain establishes a common practice for creating, analyzing, and using architecture descriptions within a particular domain. To implement security, security architecture takes the help of - trusted computing base, security perimeter, and reference models.

Cryptography is also a part of security engineering. Cryptography secures information by converting data from a readable format to a non-readable format and vice versa. Let’s now go ahead and see what the next domain in this CISSP tutorial is all about. 

4. Communication and Network Security 

This domain is all about network structures, transmission methods, and security measures used to achieve the CIA in an organization. Let’s throw some insight into a few of these measures:

  • OSI model - This is the foundation of networking. The Open Systems Interconnection, known as the OSI model, describes how data is transferred from one computer to another.
  • Firewall - This fourth domain also speaks about firewalls. A firewall is a hardware or software which is used to filter the malicious traffic from the internet to your computer. 
  • Intrusion Detection System - IDS is designed to detect unauthorized access to a system. It is best used together with a firewall and a router.

Moving ahead, let us see how CISSP deals with authentication in the next domain. 

5. Identity and Access Management

Identity and access management is the fifth domain of CISSP; this domain of CISSP is all about access control, identification, authorization, and attacks on access control and its countermeasures. To access a dataset or a resource, a subject must be identified, authenticated, and authorized. Let’s have a look at a few of the crucial fields in this domain:

  • Identity management - Here, through various automated means, users are identified and authenticated. 
  • Kerberos - This is an authentication protocol based on symmetric-key cryptography that provides end-to-end security.
  • Access criteria - Access to data shouldn’t be granted to anyone and everyone. It should be issued based on the level of trust and the job role in the organization. It is also better if it is provided based on the location and the time.

Moving on to the next domain which is - security assessment and testing.

6. Security Assessment and Testing

The sixth domain of CISSP is - security assessment and testing. Like other fields, you must perform regular assessments even in this field. So in this domain, we will look into audits, security control assessment, and testing reports. 

  • Audits - An audit is nothing but a repeated process wherein an independent professional evaluates and analyzes evidence.
  • Vulnerability Assessment -  Here, IT risks are identified and assessed. It helps in identifying, quantifying, and prioritizing vulnerabilities.
  • Testing - A well-planned assessment and test strategy can provide valuable information about risk and risk mitigation. The evaluation and test are executed by a working group called the integrated product team. Testing is performed to check the data flow between the application and the system.

Up next, we have the seventh domain which is the security operations domain. 

7. Security Operations

The seventh domain of CISSP is all about investigations, monitoring and logging, disaster recovery, and change management. The security operations domain of this CISSP tutorial will focus on digital forensics, incident management, and perimeter security such as:

  • Digital Forensics - Here, digital data is examined to identify, recover, and analyze opinions about digital information.
  • Incident Management - Incident management works towards restoring the services to normalcy, as soon as possible. A team called the incident response team is deployed to handle emergencies. Incidence response is defined as detecting a problem, determining its cause, minimizing the damage, resolving the issue, and documenting each step. This team provides management with sufficient information and defends the company against future attacks.
  • Perimeter Security - Perimeter defense allows us to detect and keep a check on unauthorized physical access. This field also controls access to the facility.

With that, we have explored security operations as a domain. Now, let’s move onto our eighth and final domain. 

8. Software Development Security

As the name suggests, this domain talks about security in a software development lifecycle. We will be looking into topics like API, Malware, Spyware, Adware, social engineering attacks, and SQL injection attacks.

  • Application Program Interface (API) - API is a collection of protocols and functions used to create applications. It supports formats such as Representational State Transfer (REST) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
  • Malware - It is a term referring to malicious software, viruses, ransomware, and worms. We can also call a trojan virus a form of malware capable of disguising itself as legitimate software.
  • Spyware - It is a type of malware used to secretly gather information of the victim to give it to a third party.
  • Adware - As the name suggests, this is a type of malware that continually displays ads and pop-ups. These are capable of gathering your information. 
  • Social Engineering Attack - It is the art of manipulating people to give their confidential information. It is broken down into Phishing, Spear Phishing, and Whaling Phishing Attacks.
  • SQL Injection - In a database-driven website, the hacker manipulates a standard SQL query and inserts malicious codes into a SQL server to obtain information.

So, that brings us to the end of the eight domains of CISSP in this what is CISSP tutorial. 

Benefits of the CISSP certification

Now that you have seen the various domains of CISSP in this what is CISSP tutorial, we will also look into the benefits you will have after completing the certification. They are as follows:

  • The CISSP certification is a globally recognized certificate and is one of the most sought-after certifications in information security. A majority of the companies look out for CISSP certified professionals. 
  • The salary structure of your job will increase if you are CISSP certified. A CISSP, certified professional earns an average annual salary of $131,030 per annum.
  • It is also seen that the rate of salary hikes for CISSP certified professionals is far more than other professionals.
  • Completing this certification will help you understand all aspects of cybersecurity in-depth.
  • CISSP certification is difficult to crack and complete. It demonstrates to the industry that you are a professional with strong experience working in the cybersecurity leadership team of the organization. 
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How Can Simplilearn Help you?

After reading this what is CISSP tutorial, you might be wondering how Simplilearn can help you? Here’s how - if you're looking to bag a leadership role in cybersecurity, the CISSP certification is a great choice. The CISSP certification training provided by Simplilearn will help you develop your expertise in defining the IT architecture and in designing, building, and maintaining a secure business environment using globally approved information on security standards. The course also focuses on the industry’s best practices and prepares you for the CISSP certification exam held by (ISC)².

The prerequisite for this course is five years of work experience in the relevant field. The course duration is sixty-seven hours. It will cover all the eight domains in-depth, and will also provide you with five simulation test papers to prepare you for CISSP certification. 

In addition to the above, the skills covered in this course will be:

  • Security and risk management
  • Asset security
  • Security architecture and design 
  • Cryptography, OSI and TCP/IP models 
  • IP addresses
  • Network security
  • Identity and access management
  • Security assessment and testing
  • Software development security

Are You Ready to Get CISSP Certified?

In this what is CISSP tutorial, you have learned what is CISSP all about, need for this certification, the various requirements to take up the CISSP certification, and the eight broad domains of CISSP. In addition to that, you now know precisely how Simplilearn can help you achieve your dream and help you land a CISSP certification.

Do you have any questions for us concerning What is CISSP or the certification in general? Feel free to mention them in the comments section of this article, and our qualified experts will get back to you as soon as possible!

About the Author

Eshna VermaEshna Verma

Eshna writes on PMP, PRINCE2, ITIL, ITSM, & Ethical Hacking. She has done her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication and is a Gold Medalist in the same. A voracious reader, she has penned several articles in leading national newspapers like TOI, HT, and The Telegraph. She loves travelling and photography.

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