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CEH vs CISSP: Which one is best for you?


IT security has become one of the priorities and concerns for IT business owners. According to various studies, global cybersecurity threats are steeply rising and almost 68% of top business leaders address this as a big concern.

The 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon stated that almost 86% of the cybersecurity attacks were conducted with financial motives and 10% with the sole aim of espionage.

In this scenario, every year companies face huge financial crises due to damage of data, theft of intellectual property, lost productive time, fraud, embezzlement, legal complications, and so on.

According to the Cybercrime Magazine, cybercrime may cost $10.5 Trillion annually by 2025. Although these figures indicate challenging times ahead for business organizations, however, people with IT security certifications can be hopeful.

The rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape offers lucrative career options to people who love helping businesses to protect their data and maintain business integrity. There is a high demand for certified IT security professionals worldwide.

There are several IT security certifications to choose from and they all help learners to sharpen their analytical, critical thinking, and practical skills, thereby helping them build better career prospects.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional Certification (CISSP) and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) are two popular certifications in this vertical.

Despite the fact that both have tremendous opportunities ahead, professionals might get confused when it comes to the decision of choosing any one of them.

The common questions arise- Which certification is best for the career? How each of these certifications will shape my career trajectory?

In this article on CEH vs CISSP, we will explore these questions.

CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional

CISSP stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional. The certification is granted by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, which is also known as (ISC)2. The CISSP is a business-focused certification.

The CISSP covers a broad spectrum of information security topics and each topic is individually referred to as a domain. Currently, there are eight domains covered under CISSP and they are:

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Security Architecture and Engineering
  • Asset Security
  • Communication and Network Security
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security

Clearing this exam proves that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to design and implement a program in cybersecurity.

Jobs Roles with CISSP Certification

  • Chief Information Officer
  • Chief Information Security Officer
  • Director of Security
  • IT Director/Manager
  • Network Architect
  • Security Analyst
  • Security Architect
  • Security Auditor
  • Security Consultant
  • Security Manager
  • Security Systems Engineer

CISSP Exam Requirements

Earning a CISSP certification isn’t easy, and it requires more than exam preparation. The candidate must meet the following prerequisites:

  • The candidates appearing for the exam must possess at least five years of experience in two or more domains mentioned by the (ISC)2 CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).
  • The candidates who have cleared other security certifications or possess a master’s degree in information security or a four-year college degree may receive a waiver of a year. It means, (ISC)2 will consider even if they have four years of work experience.
  • A candidate who doesn’t meet the criteria of five-year work experience can still appear for the exam and become Associate of (ISC)2 after clearing the exam. This designation is valid for 6 years, and during this time, the candidate must acquire the required experience and submit the endorsement form for earning CISSP certification. The Associate of (ISC)2 status will be converted into CISSP certification after the successful verification of your endorsement form.
  • CISSP is the first information security certification to meet the strict requirements of ISO/IEC Standard 17024. The (ISC)2 maintains quality in all its procedures. Unlike other IT security certifications, CISSP requires candidates to submit information regarding their criminal history or background.
  • (ISC)2 requires candidates to attest to the truth of their professional experience, as well as meet the code of CISSP code of ethics.
  • Candidates have to attempt up to 150 questions in three hours. However, it may extend to up to six hours to complete the 250 questions non-English exam.
  • The total exam score is 1000, and 700 is the passing score for the exam. As of 2021, the examination fee for CISSP is $599.
  • The exam is currently being offered in 8 languages in 114 countries at 882 locations. It means, except in English, a candidate can attempt the exam in French, Brazilian, German, Modern Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese.
  • Successful candidates are required to complete the online endorsement process after receiving a notification of clearing the exam. In this process, the application is endorsed and signed by the (ISC)2 certified professional. The (ISC)2 certified professional is the one who meets all requirements put forward by the (ISC)2 to attest your experience and is an active credential holder of (ISC)2. This endorsement must be completed within 9 months from the date of clearing the exam.

CEH - Certified Ethical Hacker

CEH stands for Certified Ethical Hacker. This certification is governed by the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council).

This is an American organization, which was formed with the sole purpose of delivering cybersecurity certification, training, services, and education and equipping learners with different cybersecurity skills.

CEH has introduced five phases of ethical hacking in 2003. These five phases guide ethical hackers on approaching their targets, as well as thwarting their efforts.

These five phases have been refined several times over the years to meet the requirements of changing digital threat landscape.

  1. Reconnaissance
  2. Gaining access
  3. Enumeration
  4. Maintaining Access
  5. Covering Your Tracks

CEH covers more than 500 new vulnerability scenarios and threats. This includes fileless malware, APT, web API threats, web shell, webhooks, cloud attacks, OT attacks, AI, ML, and so on. CEH is creating vulnerability scenarios and threats for new technologies such as Container Technology, OT Technology, and so on.

The CEH v11, the most recent version, currently prepares candidates to gain expertise with malware analysis.

The malware analysis discusses malware analysis tactics for ransomware, OT malware analysis, IoT botnets, banking, and financial malware, Android malware, and so on.

Jobs Roles with CEH Certification

The following are the job roles that may benefit from CEH:

  • Mid-level Information Assurance-Security Auditor
  • Cybersecurity Auditor
  • System Security Administrator
  • IT Security Administrator
  • Vulnerability Assessment Analyst
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Infosec Security Administrator
  • Senior Security Consultant
  • Information Security Manager
  • Technology Risk and Cybersecurity Auditor

CEH Exam Requirements

To earn the CEH certification, you need to meet the following requisites.

  • The candidate must have at least two years of work experience in the infosec domain. Or
  • The candidate must have attended any official training conducted by EC-Council.
  • The CEH certification exam duration is 4 hours and candidates need to attempt 125 questions in this duration. The examination validates a candidate’s skill in Attack Detection, Information Security Threats and Attack Vendors, Attack Prevention, Methodologies, Procedures, and more.
  • Along with theory, the candidate also needs to clear the CEH Practical Certification. The exam duration is 6 hours and it requires candidates to demonstrate their skills in various ethical hacking areas including:
    • Vulnerability detection
    • Port scanning tools
    • Attacks on a system (DDoS, DoS, session hijacking, wireless threats, SQL injection, web server and web application attacks)
    • Web application security tools
    • SQL injection methodology, as well as evasion techniques
    • Communication protocols
    • SQL injection detection tools
  • During the practical examination, the candidate has to complete 20 challenges, which test their proficiency and skills in mitigating cyber threats.
  • Unlike many other cybersecurity certifications, the CEH practical examination tests a candidate in iLabs Cyber Range.
  • The CEH (Master) designation is awarded on the completion of the CEH and CEH (Practical) exam.

This individual analysis on CEH vs CISSP is put forward with the sole aim of giving you an overview of two examinations. The next section offers you an overview of factors to consider when choosing between these two examinations.

Things to Consider When Choosing Between CEH and CISSP

Your decision on CEH vs CISSP may be influenced by different factors. The following are a few things that you need to consider during the decision-making.

  1. Future Goals
  2. The choice of the right certification will depend on your future goals. You should have a clear picture of your career path like where would you like to see yourself within 5-10 years? Do you wish to pursue a short-term and long-term career?

    Some people may only be interested in gaining knowledge through the certifications and not looking at it as a serious career option or may only want to add certifications to improve their marketability and career improvement chances in the current organization.

    However, some IT professionals may be seeking career opportunities that each of these certifications offers.

    Of the two, the CISSP certification will be more appropriate for people who are eyeing a long-term career in cybersecurity.

    Does that mean CEH isn’t for long-term career goals? The answer is CEH is designed for career seekers as well as cybersecurity enthusiasts who may want to familiarize themselves with the changing threat landscape.

  3. Payoff
  4. The salaries may differ across organizations based on the roles and responsibilities fulfilled by cybersecurity professionals. If CEH Vs CISSP comparison is done on the basis of payoff, the latter will win.

    A CISSP certification holder earns a median salary of $92,000 to $111,00 and a CEH certification holder earns a median salary of $77,000 and upwards.

    According to ISC2 Org, most CISSP certification holders earn 35% more than non-CISSP certification holders.

  5. Level of Experience and Knowledge
  6. This is one factor of CEH vs CISSP discretion, where both certifications may stand at an equal level.

    Both these certifications are aimed at people with certain years of work experience.

    So, based on your work experience and knowledge you can choose from either of them.

  7. Understand the Roles and Responsibilities of the Next Job Role
  8. If you are already working in some cybersecurity job role for some years, perhaps you may be familiar with the roles and responsibilities of that job profile.

    If you are aiming for a higher role and wish to enhance your marketability and career prospects, perhaps, you need to understand the roles and responsibilities of the new role. Then, you need to focus on CEH vs CISSP to see what each of these certifications has to offer.

    You need to scan through the exam curriculum and information to check which course prepares you better for the role.

  9. Eye for High Demand IT Security Roles
  10. If you are familiar with the old economic equation of high demand and low supply, you may agree that it assures more advantages than disadvantages and the same goes true for the cybersecurity domain, too.

    There is a high demand for cybersecurity roles but the supply is low because there are fewer professionals with high-level IT certifications.

    You need to check what is most in-demand in IT security roles and domains. The following are a few high demand roles in IT security:

    • Information Security Analyst
    • Ethical Hackers
    • Digital Forensic Analyst
    • Security Architect
    • Network Engineer
    • Chief Information Security Officer

    The responsibilities of these job roles may vary across organizations. However, they are expected to address the emerging threats including

    • Cloud Security
    • IT Audits and Risk Development Strategization
    • Penetration Breach Testing and Certified Hacking
    • Mobile Security and Access Management

    Again here, you need to check the curriculum closely and understand what these two certifications have to offer and how they will prepare you for these challenges.

Conclusion

The choice of the right certification will depend on your individual and career requirements. Whatever certification path you choose, preparation is a big aspect of it.

You can take certification preparation courses on the official websites of the organizations offering these courses.

However, that is not enough. You need to regularly practice and put your knowledge to the test. If you look closely, both these certifications rigorously test your knowledge across a broad spectrum of IT security.

Although a candidate may have the required work experience still find it difficult to clear at the first attempt.

Curated by-

Ms. Mahima Garg

She is a technology enthusiast and an author who is passionate about ideation, planning, implementing, integrating, and managing business processes for business growth. This led her and the team to build a Global IT Certification and Preparation Platform for professionals which help them get certified and enhance their career growth. With 20+ years of experience in IT and Management, she believes to impart what she has learned in her exciting career.

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