Dissecting the New CompTIA Security+ Certification

The cybersecurity industry is one of the hottest industries in technology, and the job roles are some of the most in-demand jobs in the field. In this blog post, we are going to focus on one of the most popular certifications you can earn to prepare yourself for a job as a cybersecurity professional.

Cybersecurity job roles are in high demand, and whether you are getting prepared for your next job as a cybersecurity professional or this is your first interview, as a cybersecurity professional this certification is a must-have and a great way to get ready for an exciting career in the world of cybersecurity. The industry is evolving rapidly, and the need for skilled professionals has never been more critical.

Here, we’ll delve into the significance of the CompTIA Security+ certification and its role in shaping a career in cybersecurity, as well as some of the changes in the new version of the certification.

Security+ Domains: SY0-701

The content for the new CompTIA Security+ certification is broken down into the five domains or sections below. We’ll examine each of them individually later in this post.
– General Security Concepts
– Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Mitigations
– Security Architecture
– Security Operations
– Security Program Management and Oversight
Reference: https://www.comptia.org/certifications/security

Let’s go over some of the topic areas and differences between the older 601 version of the exam and the new 701 version of the Security+ certification exam.

Understanding CompTIA Security+

The Security+ certification, offered by CompTIA, is a globally recognized credential validating foundational knowledge in cybersecurity. It covers essential cybersecurity concepts, such as threat management, cryptography, network security, and risk identification. Taking the Security+ exam allows you to have a sense of credibility and shows that you understand the concepts most important to any cybersecurity professional. This can be a major way to open doors to diverse career opportunities in technology and cybersecurity.

What are the changes in Security+ 701?

SY0-701 Exam Domains SY0-601 Exam Domains

1.0 General Security Concepts
2.0 Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Mitigations 1.0 Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities
3.0 Security Architecture 2.0 Architecture and Design
3.0 Implementation
4.0 Security Operations 4.0 Operations and Incident Response
5.0 Security Program Management and Oversight 5.0 Governance, Risk, and Compliance

The new CompTIA Security+ 701 exam includes 20% of updated content from the previous version of the exam to include topics around:
– Zero Trust Architecture
– Embedded Device Security
– ICS/OT Security
– Cloud and Mobile Security
– Automation and AI Security
– Deceptive Technologies

Domain 1: General Security Concepts

Having a solid grasp of cybersecurity terminology and core concepts is fundamental in the field of cybersecurity. It creates a shared language among cybersecurity professionals, facilitating effective communication, collaboration, and understanding of security issues and solutions. Here are some key reasons why this understanding is crucial.

Communication: Cybersecurity professionals deal with complex technical concepts. A common terminology ensures clear communication across teams, enabling efficient collaboration between different departments, such as I.T., security operations, and management.

Risk Management: Understanding core concepts like risk assessment, threat modeling, and vulnerability management allows professionals to assess and prioritize risks accurately. This, in turn, helps in developing effective strategies to mitigate potential threats.

Incident Response: Familiarity with terms related to incident handling, such as intrusion detection, containment, and eradication, enables swift and effective responses to security incidents, reducing potential damages.

Compliance and Regulations: Cybersecurity professionals need to navigate through various compliance standards and regulations (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA). Understanding the associated terminology ensures adherence to these standards.

Security Architecture and Design: Knowledge of concepts like secure coding practices, network segmentation, encryption, and access controls helps in designing robust and secure systems from the ground up.

Threat Intelligence and Analysis: Being conversant in terms related to threat intelligence, such as indicators of compromise (IoCs), attack vectors, and malware analysis, aids in identifying and mitigating emerging threats.

Training and Education: A common understanding of terminology simplifies the training process for new cybersecurity professionals entering the field.

Continuous learning and staying updated with evolving terminology and concepts are crucial due to the ever-changing nature of cybersecurity threats and technologies. This ongoing education ensures that cybersecurity professionals remain equipped to handle new challenges and adopt emerging security measures effectively.

Domain 2: Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Mitigations

A keen awareness of threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities is pivotal for cybersecurity professionals. Mitigation strategies heavily rely on understanding potential risks to preempt, detect, and respond effectively. Here’s how cyber pros typically approach these elements.

Threat Awareness: Staying updated on emerging threats (like ransomware, phishing, or DDoS attacks) helps anticipate potential risks. Threat intelligence sources, security forums, and industry reports provide valuable insights.

Attack Identification and Analysis: Detecting malicious activities involves monitoring network traffic, system logs, and employing security tools like intrusion detection systems (IDS) or security information and event management (SIEM) solutions. Analyzing attack patterns aids in understanding attacker methodologies and motives. Using tools like the Mitre attack framework helps to understand better what the attacker is capable of.

Vulnerability Management: Regularly scanning systems and applications for vulnerabilities is crucial. This includes patching software, eliminating misconfigurations, and conducting penetration testing to identify weaknesses before attackers exploit them.

Incident Response Planning: Developing incident response plans enables quick action in the event of a breach or security incident. These plans outline steps for containment, eradication, recovery, and communication to minimize damages.

Implementing Mitigation Techniques: Deploying various mitigation strategies like access controls, encryption, firewalls, and endpoint protection helps fortify systems against potential attacks. Don’t forget the human threat vector and adding training to this agenda can be huge for an organization trying to mitigate threats from attackers.

Continuous Monitoring and Improvement: Security is an ongoing process. Continuously monitoring networks, refining strategies based on evolving threats, and conducting regular security assessments are essential for maintaining robust cybersecurity postures.

Remember, no security measure is foolproof, but a multi-layered defense approach that combines technology, processes, and human vigilance significantly enhances an organization’s resilience against cyber threats.

Domain 3: Security Architecture

Understanding different security architectures is vital for cybersecurity professionals as each environment—on-premises, cloud, and hybrid—comes with its unique security challenges and requires tailored security approaches.

On-Premises Security: Traditional on-premises environments involve securing physical infrastructure within an organization’s premises. Security measures include firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), network segmentation, access controls, and physical security measures. Professionals need to focus on securing endpoints, servers, network infrastructure, and ensuring data encryption within the local environment.

Cloud Security: Cloud environments involve third-party services hosted remotely, introducing shared responsibility between the cloud provider and the organization. Security measures include identity and access management (IAM), encryption, data loss prevention (DLP), network security groups, and cloud-specific security tools. Professionals must understand cloud-native security solutions and best practices for securing data, applications, and services in the cloud.

Hybrid Security: Hybrid environments combine both on-premises and cloud components, allowing data and applications to move between them. Security measures involve integrating on-premises and cloud security solutions, maintaining consistent policies across both environments, and securing connections between them.

Professionals need to manage access controls, data encryption, and network security to ensure seamless and secure interaction between on-premises and cloud environments. It’s also important to adapt their security strategies based on the specific requirements of each architecture. This includes understanding the shared responsibility model in the cloud, implementing proper access controls, encryption, monitoring tools, and ensuring compliance with industry regulations across all environments.

Moreover, staying updated with the latest advancements and security features in each architecture is imperative to adapt to evolving threats and technologies. Security professionals need to continuously learn and refine their skills to effectively secure diverse and complex I.T. infrastructures.

Domain 4: Security Operations

Security operations include the day-to-day activities of a security professional. It is that daily effort that helps the organization to get better with their security posture. Here’s a breakdown of key components within security operations.

Monitoring Systems: Security professionals continuously monitor networks, systems, and applications using tools like SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) platforms, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools. They analyze logs, alerts, and anomalies to detect potential threats and unusual activities in real-time.

Vulnerability Management: Regularly scanning and assessing systems for vulnerabilities is central. Security professionals use vulnerability scanning tools to identify weaknesses in software, configurations, or systems. They prioritize vulnerabilities based on risk and criticality and take necessary actions to patch or mitigate them.

Hardening Systems: Cybersecurity professionals harden systems by implementing best practices, applying security configurations, disabling unnecessary services, and ensuring systems are up to date with patches and updates. This proactive approach minimizes attack surfaces and reduces the chances of successful exploitation.

Incident Response: Incident response involves preparing, planning, and responding to security incidents promptly and effectively. Cybersecurity professionals develop incident response plans outlining roles, procedures, and steps to contain, eradicate, and recover from security incidents. During an incident, they coordinate responses, analyze the impact, mitigate damages, and restore normal operations.

Continuous Improvement: Security operations teams engage in continuous improvement by analyzing incident data, conducting post-incident reviews, and refining incident response processes. They learn from incidents, identify weaknesses in the security posture, and update strategies to enhance resilience against future threats.

Skilled and well-trained cybersecurity professionals are necessary for effective incident response. They must possess a blend of technical expertise, analytical skills, and the ability to work under pressure to handle incidents efficiently, minimize downtime, and mitigate the impact of security breaches. Regular training, simulations, and staying updated with the latest threats and incident response methodologies are essential for maintaining a strong incident response capability.

Domain 5: Security Program Management and Oversight

Building a cybersecurity program is important to all organizations today to stop malicious actors from deploying different tactics to compromise employees. Having reporting and effective communication is an integral part of a cybersecurity professional’s role, which is facilitating collaboration, decision-making, and compliance efforts within an organization.

Here’s how these aspects play out.

Security Incident Reporting: Cybersecurity professionals are responsible for promptly reporting security incidents to relevant stakeholders, including I.T. teams, management, legal departments, and regulatory authorities as required. They compile incident reports detailing the nature of the incident, its impact, the response actions taken, and recommendations for preventing similar incidents.

Threats, Attacks, and Vulnerabilities Reporting: Professionals regularly communicate information about emerging threats, attack trends, and identified vulnerabilities to internal teams and security communities. This sharing of information helps create awareness, allows proactive measures, and facilitates the development of mitigation strategies.

Trend Analysis and Reporting: Analyzing security trends and patterns, cybersecurity professionals report on the evolving threat landscape, emerging attack vectors, and notable trends to help organizations adapt their security measures accordingly.

Security Governance and Compliance: Understanding security governance frameworks, standards, and compliance requirements (such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS) is critical for cybersecurity professionals. They assist in implementing effective security governance practices, ensuring adherence to regulations, and developing strategies to mitigate third-party risks.

Third-Party Risk Management: Cybersecurity professionals actively manage and mitigate risks arising from third-party vendors or partners. They assess and monitor the security practices of third parties, establish risk management frameworks, and ensure compliance with security standards and contractual obligations.

Continuous learning and staying updated with the latest trends and best practices in security governance, risk management, and compliance are crucial for cybersecurity professionals. Successful communication, both within the organization and with external stakeholders, is vital to ensure a coordinated security posture. It aids in fostering a culture of security awareness and compliance throughout the organization.

CompTIA Security+ covers a variety of attacks against applications and networks. Listed below are two examples of these types of attacks.

Cross-Site Scripting Attack: This attack is focused on web applications where a threat actor is allowed to upload a malicious script into a portion of the website. This script will allow the attacker to control the behavior of what happens on that portion of the website.

Evil Twin Attack: This attack is focused on wireless networks where an attacker is allowed to create a fake wireless access point into the enterprise environment. With this level of control, the attacker can create a variety of impersonation attacks that end up compromising things such as user passwords or other highly sensitive company-controlled assets.

Types of Threat Actors and Penetration Testing

Threat actors are the adversaries that use a variety of attacks against our organization. These attackers can be internal or external to the organization and have a varied degree of resources and motivations depending on the capabilities, resources, and experience level available to them.

Advanced Persistent Threat: These types of threat actors have unlimited resources and a very high level of sophistication with the capabilities to be stealthy by design and carry out attacks with massive scale and impact. These threat groups could go undetected in an organization for years.

Script Kiddies: These are threat actors with limited experience and resources to carry out attacks against organizations. They rely on resources in the form of automated scripts and programs to carry out their attacks.
Penetration Testing: Penetration testing is the simulation of an attack against an organization to test security controls implemented inside and outside the organization. With these insights, you can spot the gaps in security before the threat actors, improving your security posture in your organization.

Vulnerability Assessments: Vulnerability scanning and other types of assessments like threat hunting in security give you the opportunity to discovery vulnerabilities quicker, be more proactive with security and provide a methodology of maturity for cybersecurity in your organization. Using tools like Nessus to perform scanning for vulnerabilities will reduce false positive and allow you to improve your security program.

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered the new exam objectives for CompTIA Security+ certification. You don’t have to have any prior knowledge in cybersecurity to train for and earn the CompTIA Security+ certification, and by taking on this certification, you will be able to help organizations strengthen their digital security. If you want to be a cybersecurity professional and do not have the CompTIA Security+ certification, it will help you tackle the threats that face your organization by giving the skills needed to spearhead cybersecurity operations.

CompTIA offers many certifications for cybersecurity and other segments of technology. Training Concepts can guide you through them all with ease. If you’re interested in becoming CompTIA certified and making cybersecurity into a career, consider training with us at Training Concepts Academy. Reach out to us today to learn more!

CompTIA Security+ certification

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