Page Two

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-03-17 Print this article Print

Auditing ISACA Certs

Before committing to the CISSP, Bradstreet looked into the CISA (Certified Information Security Auditor) and the CISM. He found that, not surprisingly, these two security certs focus more on management and less on technology.

That management focus is exactly what attracted Dwayne R. Johnson to the CISM. Johnson, a management consultant for a multinational entertainment company that he declined to name, has both the CISSP and the CISA certifications and recently qualified to get his experience and CISA cert grandfathered into ISACAs new CISM credential.

Whereas the CISSP is a good foundation "for anybody in security," CISM is for those going into management and the softer skills, said Johnson, in New York. With 45 people in the core security group of his organization, Johnson is steering more technical staff toward CISSP and his managers toward CISM.

Mix people holding those two with technical types equipped with a few more nuts-and-bolts certs, and youll have one strong security organization, Johnson said. "CISA tends to be the premier way of being able to audit and manage risk," he said. "But its a slightly different skill set to be able to put an entire IT security program together across an entire organization. You need the CISA and the CISSP and [networking certifications], and the GIAC components as well."

GIAC: Nuts and Bolts

At the other end of the skills spectrum from the CISM is a nitty-gritty, technically oriented family of certs from The SANS Institute: GIAC. This group of 11 credentials tends to be more technically focused, covering everything from intrusion analysis to systems and network auditing, Unix security administration, and firewall analysis.

Of the family, two—GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst and GIAC Certified Incident Handler—rank among the top 14 highest-paying certs, with, respectively, 12 percent and 10 percent median salary premiums, according to Foote Partners.

David Hoelzer, director of the GIAC certification program, said what distinguishes GIAC certs is that candidates must write research papers that show how they would put their skills into practice. Passing assignments are then posted on the GIAC site ( That, said Hoelzer, helps spread knowledge about how to fix security problems. "When youre working day to day, knowing facts isnt what its about," said Hoelzer, in New York. "For someone whos going to build your firewall, the ability to apply your facts [is crucial]."

Senior Writer Lisa Vaas can be reached at

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Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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