CompTIA Security+ Certification: A Comprehensive Guide

ComPTIA, CompTIA Security+ Certification

CompTIA Security+ is a globally recognized certification that validates the baseline skills necessary to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career. It is the first security certification that IT professionals should earn, as it covers the essential principles of cybersecurity and risk management.

In this guide, I will explain what CompTIA Security+ certification is, what benefits it offers, what job roles it prepares you for, what topics it covers, how to prepare for the exam, and how to maintain your certification.

What Is CompTIA Security+ Certification?

CompTIA Security+ certification is an exam that tests your knowledge and skills in various domains of cybersecurity, such as threats, attacks, vulnerabilities, identity and access management, architecture and design, cryptography, risk management, and more.

The exam consists of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions that you have to answer in 90 minutes. The passing score is 750 out of 900. The exam is available in English, Japanese, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, and German.

CompTIA Security+ certification is compliant with ISO 17024 standards and approved by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to meet directive 8140/8570.01-M requirements. This means that CompTIA Security+ meets the highest standards of quality and credibility in the industry. And is recognized by government agencies and employers worldwide.

CompTIA Security+ certification is valid for three years from the date of passing the exam.

The exam is provided by Pearson VUE, and it can be taken at testing centers or online. The price of the exam varies depending on the location and the type of exam. CompTIA Security+ Exam costs $392. SY0-601 will retire in July 2024, while the retirement date for SY0-701 is yet to be announced.

Why Should You Get CompTIA Security+ Certification?

CompTIA Security+ certification offers many benefits for IT professionals who want to start or advance their careers in cybersecurity. Here are some of the reasons why you should get CompTIA Security+ certification:

  • It demonstrates your competency and credibility in cybersecurity. CompTIA Security+ certification proves that you have the knowledge and skills to perform core security functions and solve real-world problems.
  • It opens up more job opportunities and higher salaries. CompTIA Security+ certification is a requirement or preference for many cybersecurity jobs in various sectors, such as government, defense, finance, healthcare, education, and more. According to CompTIA’s research, 96% of employers use IT certifications as screening or hiring criteria. Moreover, CompTIA Security+ certified professionals earn an average salary of $96,000 per year in the U.S., according to ZipRecruiter.
  • It prepares you for intermediate-level cybersecurity roles. CompTIA Security+ certification covers the foundational concepts and skills that are essential for any cybersecurity role. By earning this certification, you will be ready to take on more challenging and specialized jobs, such as security analyst, security engineer, security administrator, penetration tester, security consultant, and more.
  • It keeps you updated on the latest trends and technologies in cybersecurity. By earning this certification, you will stay ahead of the curve and be able to adapt to the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

What Topics Does CompTIA Security+ Certification Cover?

General Security Concepts

The first domain of the CompTIA Security+ exam covers the fundamental concepts and terminology of cybersecurity. You will need to understand the principles of confidentiality, integrity, availability, authentication, authorization, accountability, and non-repudiation, as well as the types and functions of security controls.

Additionally, you will also learn about common security policies, procedures, frameworks, and standards that guide the implementation and management of security in an organization.

Threats, Vulnerabilities & Mitigations

The second domain of the CompTIA Security+ exam focuses on how to identify, analyze, and respond to various threats, cyberattacks, vulnerabilities, and security incidents that affect hybrid environments.

You will learn about different types of threat actors, attack vectors, attack techniques, and indicators of compromise, as well as how to use tools and techniques to perform threat intelligence, vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and incident response. You will also learn how to apply appropriate mitigation strategies to prevent or minimize the impact of security breaches.

Security Architecture

The third domain of the CompTIA Security+ exam covers the design and implementation of secure network architectures and systems. You will need to understand the security implications of different architecture models, such as cloud computing, virtualization, containerization, microservices, serverless computing, and zero trust.

Furthermore, you will learn how to apply security best practices to secure enterprise infrastructure components, such as routers, switches, firewalls, proxies, load balancers, wireless access points, servers, endpoints, and mobile devices.

Additionally, you will learn how to implement encryption techniques and cryptographic protocols to protect data in transit and at rest.

Security Operations

The fourth domain of the CompTIA Security+ exam covers the day-to-day operations and maintenance of security in an organization.

You will learn how to apply and enhance security and vulnerability management techniques, such as patching, hardening, configuration management, backup and recovery, disaster recovery planning, business continuity planning, and change management.

You will also learn about the security implications of proper hardware, software, and data management practices, such as asset inventory management, data classification and labeling, data retention and disposal policies.

Security Program Management & Oversight

The fifth domain of the CompTIA Security+ exam covers the skills and knowledge required for effective security program management and oversight in an organization.

You will learn how to communicate and report on security issues and metrics to various stakeholders using different methods and tools. You will also learn how to comply with legal and regulatory requirements related to cybersecurity governance risk management compliance assessment security awareness.

Jobs You Can Land With CompTIA Security+

Here are some job roles that you can land with CompTIA Security+ certification:

  • Cloud Penetration Tester
  • Incident Response Analyst
  • Network Security Operations
  • Penetration Tester
  • Network Security Analyst
  • Web App Penetration Tester

How CompTIA Security+ Compares With Other Certifications

CertificationVendorPerformance Based QuestionsVendor NeutralExperience LevelExam FocusTraining Products
CompTIA Security+CompTIAYesIntermediateBaseline cybersecurity skills, core cybersecurity knowledgeFull suite of online test prep tools, LOT, books
(ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)(ISC)²YesEarly careerSecurity administrator job roleFull suite of online test prep tools, LOT, books
GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)SANSYesEarly careerSecurity administrator job roleSelf-paced online, LOT, courseware, mobile toolkit
EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)EC-CouncilYesEarly careerPen testing and ethical hackingIn-person training and online
ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity(ISC)²YesEntry LevelCybersecurity terms and conceptsSelf-paced online, LOT
How CompTIA Security+ Compares With Others

Certification Renewal

CompTIA Security+ certification is valid for three years from the day of your exam. To keep your certification up to date, you can participate in CompTIA’s Continuing Education (CE) program. It allows you to extend your certification in three-year intervals through activities and training that relate to the content of your certification.

You can renew your CompTIA Security+ certification by completing CertMaster CE, an online, self-paced CE course, or by collecting at least 50 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) in three years, uploading them to your certification account, and Security+ will automatically renew.

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