Obtaining the CCIE Security Certification

CCIE Security By BY-YOUR-⌘ (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0]
The evolving demand that industry in general, and individual companies in specific be up to speed in all technologies pertaining to security has resulted in Cisco announcing their new framework to validate the skills of individuals in this area.

The Cisco Certified International Expert Security (CCIE Security) regimen is recognizing people who can acquire the skills and the knowledge to implement, maintain and support the highly extensive Cisco Network Solutions for Security by utilizing the latest best practices for industry and technology.

There are no requirements for prerequisites in this program, as other industries or specific training programs are required. In place of that, there is a written examination that is given to qualifying candidates as to their aptitude and abilities, and then a following hands-on lab exam is given.

The qualifying candidates will be expected to exhibit an understanding of the subject matter that is in-depth in regard to the topics discussed as well as the blueprints. It is also emphasized and strongly suggested that a candidate has from three to five years of job experience in the security field prior to attempting the certification process.

The written exam is a two-hour long written examination that will cover concepts in networking and equipment commands prior to the scheduling of the examination. This examination will have to be passed in order for the applicant will be allowed to move forward onto further qualification.

The written exam covers such competencies and skills that professionals in the security sector will already be familiar with in terms of the overall operation, implementation and troubleshooting of a typical Cisco Security System.

The written exam consists of between 90 and 110 questions that are of a multiple choice format, with an exam duration of two hours. Appropriate study materials are available and can be used to prepare for the exam.

The CCIE Security Lab Exam is an eight hour, hands-on practical exam that is designed to test an applicant’s ability to get a secure network up and running in a timed tested structured setting. The lab test must be taken within a three-year period after having passed the written exam, or the candidate must re-take the written exam.

There are also appropriate study materials that are recommended that a candidate obtains in order to prepare for the CCIE Security Exam which is available.

The CCIE Security Certification program is considered to be the Flagship program in the security industry, as having this certification identifies candidates for differing job positions and roles in a number of security fields across the spectrum.

The materials and exam materials are updated on a regular basis and certify that certificate holders will always be up-to-date and on top of the latest security measures that are available. There is a robust continuing education aspect to the CCIE certification that ensures this.

The current certification addresses real-world scenarios that identify the multiple-threat environment that all industries and parties encounter. The relevancy of the CCIE will ensure that the security systems will always be on the cutting edge of any technology that is encountered.

Consequently, the emphasis of the exams is to meld the theoretical to the reality of the threats that appear on an ongoing basis and apply both disciplines to an overall strategy that is continually evolving and expanding. As new threats are encountered in the real world, Cisco then has to evolve to meet those newer threats.

The candidate for the CCIE certification will have to be able to solve problems that result from real world application and be able to troubleshoot and track down problems that not only occur in one area but to be able to observe and discern issues that may cover more diverse areas as well.

Consequently, the CCIE candidate will need to have a deeper, and a more thorough understanding of overall security programs and how they are implemented and maintained in a deeper and more thorough application than other certification programs.

Either prior hands on or job experience will be a great help in mastering the material on both exams, as well as completing the CCNA and the CCNP Security programs for a broad-based spectrum of specific in regard to what is expected.

Tips for Studying for the CCIE Certification

The CCIE certification is a very valuable certification for anyone who is eager to work in networking. The exam is quite an intense one, however, and it is difficult to pass. You will need to study carefully – even if you are quite confident in your ability to use Cisco products – because the test is intended to prove that you are a very skilled network engineer.

Studying for the Cisco exam will require a decent time investment. Make sure that you set up a work environment that has nothing but GNS3 on it – no instant messenger clients, no games, and no social networking clients. This will minimise distractions. Use that, and a copy of the Cisco PDFs that you need to research.
You might find that you study best if you do so early in the morning or late at night, when you don’t have friends or family members around to distract you. Set aside specific periods of the day when you go into ‘work mode’. If you are going to watch videos to study, take notes with a pen and paper at the same time, and try following along with any lab work.

Start with short study sessions, and build up to being able to concentrate on the lab work for a full day, so that you are ready for the lab exam.

While you can do well if you just read the documentation and experiment, you will find that it is easier to prepare for the test through an approved vendor. Pick one, and work through their entire curriculum. Most CCIE training providers teach ‘to the test’ so this will give you the best chance of success when you are limited to studying for short periods. Watch their videos, work through their examples, and try the practice tests. Build a home rack if you have the luxury of doing so, and use that to play with different scenarios.

Are You Ready for The Test?

Before you even start, assess your skills honestly. How much do you really know about the subjects that will be on the exam? Can you really configure an MPLS L3 VPN from the ground up? Do you know how to configure different kinds of authentication in OSPF? You might think that you know a subject well because you encounter it a lot at work – but do you really understand it, or are you just repeating a few specific things that you are used to in your own environment? It is easy to overestimate your skills.

Make sure that you take several mocks in the build-up to your test –you may find that you get quite a surprise with the first mock that you take. Only around one in seven people will pass the CCIE on their first attempt. You can increase your chances of being one of those seven if you take mocks to assess your progress, and then – when you are very close to passing –attend a bootcamp. The bootcamp is something that will help you to refine your knowledge IF, and only if, you already know a lot.

If you don’t have a solid foundation to build on then a boot camp will be a stressful experience. It will cost you a lot of money, time and mental energy, and it will be too intense for you to retain a lot of knowledge. So don’t take chances on it – prepare properly, and use it to put the finishing touches on your knowledge. Knowledge that should be gained through structured study from both CISCO publications, approved training partners, and the network engineering community as a whole.