As computers gain complexity, so do the malicious attacks used to beat the security systems built to guard those systems. Government employees working in IT are expected to complete the Security+ exam. Many non-government companies are also requiring their employees to receive certification.
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CompTIA Security+ Made Easy

Cyber Security has been written about a bunch recently. As computers gain complexity, so do the malicious attacks used to beat the security systems built to guard those systems.

Why Get Certified?

Government employees working in the Information Technology and Computer Security fields, are being expected to complete the Security+ exam in order to stay compliant with the DoD 8570 policy. Several non-government companies are also requesting their employees to receive certification as part of their yearly training plan. Industry standard certifications are a great way to make your resume shine.

Professionals seeking employment opportunities as a Security Specialist, Network Administrator, or Network Technician may benefit from obtaining a Security+ certification. Getting Security+ certified can also be worth while for individuals who are already employed and hope to advance their earning potential. The knowledge gained from preparing for and taking the exam is a good justification for seeking the Security+ certification.

About the Exam

The exam contains 100 questions which need to be answered in 90 minutes or less. A score of 750 or higher on a scale of 100-900 must be obtained to pass. CompTIA recommends that you have former network and security experience, but it is not mandatory. The exam codes for the current test are SY0-201 and JK0-015. The current pricing for 2011 in the United States is $266 for non-members and $226 for member organizations.

Exam Objectives

The core objectives for the exam range from broad organizational topics to specifics about various cryptography algorithms. Here's the topic breakdown:

o Systems Security - 21 percent
o Network Infrastructure - 20 percent
o Access Control - 17 percent
o Assessments and Audits - 15 percent
o Cryptography - 15 percent
o Organizational Security - 12 percent

It's easy to feel overwhelmed at first by reading the exam objectives, but don't sweat it. Keep in mind that this exam does not demand a degree in Computer Science and with a good study plan you too can have a good outcome. I'll give you some tips on how to increase your chances for passing the exam on your first try later in this article. I passed the exam on my first attempt with a score of 855 out of 900 and you can too!

Where to Take the Exam?

Pearson VUE or Prometric exam facilities both offer the Security+ exam. If you're a government employee you should receive an exam voucher from your command to pay for the exam cost. You will need to visit the Pearson or Prometric website to schedule your exam date once you are ready to take the exam. Don't be overly anxious to schedule the exam! Be sure you are ready to take the test before scheduling.

Preparing for Success

I did self-paced study for the Security+ exam for 2 weeks and passed on my first attempt with a score of 855 out of 900. My primary job responsibility is not as a Network Administrator or a Security Specialist, so my applicable work experience was minimal. I have some book recommendations and a study strategy that will maximize your chance for success on the first attempt. I highly suggest that you obtain a copy of CompTIA Security+ Deluxe Study Guide: SY0-201 and CompTIA Security+ Review Guide: SY0-201. Begin by reading the study guide cover to cover, making sure to complete the end of chapter practice exams. Then read the review guide cover to cover, making sure to take all of the practice exams too.

Both books come with a CD full of practices questions and mock exams. When you can consistently pass the end of chapter practice exams and the mock exams on the CDs with a score of 80 percent or higher, then you should be ready for the real exam. Take your time, grasp the knowledge, and most importantly have fun!

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