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A security auditor oversees a company's cybersecurity systems and protocols. They help ensure regulatory compliance and evaluate internal controls.
Security auditors need to know operational security controls and computer-assisted audit technology (CAAT) applications. New auditors may need five years of experience in information governance, cybersecurity, information technology (IT) auditing, or control objectives for information and related technologies (COBIT).
Certifications can help information security professionals interested in auditing systems and procedures advance their careers. Discover why security auditors might pursue certification and review some of the top security auditor certifications.
What Is Certification in Security Auditing?
Organizations or associations offer various cybersecurity certifications. Security auditors do not need a state license. Certification shows competence in key auditing, IT governance, and business resilience. In addition, security certifications demonstrate updated knowledge of the field, helping employers take notice of applicants.
Certification in security auditing shows that a cybersecurity professional passed an examination demonstrating their knowledge of several career areas.
Why Pursue Certification?
In an industry where companies face mounting pressure to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information, many technology firms are turning to security audits.
As the need for audits increases, the demand for qualified and educated professionals in this field also rises. Obtaining current knowledge, skills, and abilities is crucial for promotion as a security auditor.
In the 2020 ERG and ISSA report, a survey of 327 cybersecurity professionals listed earning certification as a top method for increasing knowledge, abilities, or skills. The report concluded that hands-on experience and certifications provided a clear and effective path to career achievement.
Learn more about becoming a security auditor below.
Security Auditor Career Overview How to Become a Security Auditor The Typical Day of a Security Auditor
Top Certifications for Security Auditors
Some certifications hold more value than others. A 2020 (ISC)² study reports that the most common credentials are certified information systems security professional (CISSP), certified information systems auditor (CISA), certified information security manager (CISM), and Security+.
Cybersecurity professionals most often have the CISSP, CISM, Security+, CISA, or CEH credentials, according to the 2020 ERG and ISSA report. Among information security auditors, CISA may be the most sought-after credential.
The best cybersecurity certifications come from industry-recognized organizations such as the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council), CompTIA, Cisco, (ISC)², or the Information Assurance Certification Review Board (IACRB).
They provide job-ready skills and hold value to employers. Many of the most popular certifications require several years of relevant experience in addition to passing a comprehensive exam.
Review some of the top certifications for security auditors below.
Incorporated in 1969, ISACA now serves more than 150,000 professionals in 188 countries. The organization offers eight cybersecurity and risk management credentials to help professionals advance their careers. ISACA offers various certifications, from cybersecurity analysis to IT security practice and audit management.
ISACA developed a library of resources along with training and events. The organization provides podcasts, videos, research papers, and even academic partnerships with learning institutions.
Risk managers, IT auditors, and IT managers can benefit from a CRISC certification. CRISC requires test-takers to know governance, IT risk management, risk response and reporting, and information technology and security.
To get certified, applicants need relevant experience in managing information systems, and they must pass the exam within five years of applying for certification. Security auditors must complete all 120 required continuing education hours within three years to maintain their certification.
ISACA created the CET for professionals and enterprises using emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, and augmented reality. Applicants must pass four separate exams, one in each area. They can prepare for their tests through online self-paced courses, in-person education, or virtual sessions.
CISA validates that holders have the knowledge and skills required to manage information technology effectively. The exam consists of 150 questions covering five domain areas. More than 151,000 IT professionals around the world hold this certification.
Founded in 1988, DRI International helps organizations prepare for and recover from disasters such as cybersecurity attacks. Having certified more than 20,000 professionals in over 100 countries, DRI is a leading global provider of training, education, and certification in the field of information risk management.
Today, the organization offers 15 different industry certifications across eight areas. To prepare for the exams, applicants may take online training and workshops or take advantage of DRI International's on-demand training program.
DRII offers the CBCLA for business continuity lead auditors. Candidates must demonstrate five years of experience in auditing leadership, emergency management, or business continuity. Before taking the CBCLA test, applicants must pass the audit examination and complete the business continuity planning for auditors course.
Test-takers should provide two references for each of the certification's seven subject matter areas. Those applicants who hold an MBCP, a CISA, a CISSP, a CISM, or a CGEIT and are in good standing may apply to waive part of the exam. As of 2022, the application fee is $400.
The CBCA exam assesses a professional's knowledge of current best practices for business continuity, disaster recovery, and resilience. An auditor with this certification has validated their ability to anticipate and analyze how disruptive events can affect an organization's capacity to continue its day-to-day operations.
To apply for the CBCA certification, applicants should hold two years or more of significant, practical experience and must have passed the audit examination with at least 75%. At that point, applicants may write their essays on each of the five subject areas, including business continuity strategies, plan development and implementation, and business impact analysis. As of 2022, the application fee is $200.
Formed in 1989 as the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc, (ISC)2 began as a consortium of security agencies seeking to standardize industry practices. Today, the organization manages eight certifications and a widely recognized code of ethics.
In addition to its extensive portfolio of certifications, (ISC)2 provides its 168,000 members with access to training, magazines, newsletters, and industry research. Members may join existing chapters near them or start new chapters to serve their areas.
Many consider the CISSP credential as the gold standard information security certification. It holds international recognition as a vendor-neutral credential that validates professionals with broad experience in IT security and proven mastery of the technical and business sides of information security.
The curriculum focuses on identifying risks related to confidentiality, integrity, and availability within enterprise computing environments. The CISSP certification process requires applicants to hold at least two years of experience in one or more of the certification's seven domains prior to passing the exam.
CCSP certification is a globally recognized, vendor-neutral credential. The CCSP covers topics ranging from cloud security architecture and design, compliance, audit and control frameworks, and tools and techniques for risk management in public and private clouds. The CCSP exam evaluates test-takers across six security domains.
The CAP certification validates professionals' competence with risk management frameworks. The exam covers seven domains, including the information security risk management program,
the scope of the information system, and the selection and approval of security and privacy controls.
Additional Certifications for Security Auditors
While our list covers many of the best cybersecurity certifications, it's not comprehensive. The following organizations offer many other popular industry certifications. Consider the following additional options:
Preparing for Certification Exams
Cybersecurity is a complex and demanding field that calls for detail-oriented professionals with strong computer knowledge. Cybersecurity certifications are often challenging in scope, duration, and requirements. Consider these tips when preparing for certification exams:
Prepare a study schedule and stick to it. Learning often happens best when it happens regularly over time. Know the exam's format. Does the exam require you to hack into a computer, complete 150 multiple-choice questions, or answer essays? Get familiar with the testing center's rules. Each testing location sets its own guidelines regarding time, breaks, snacks, and security. Take advantage of free and paid test preparation courses. Industry associations and private organizations often provide affordable training to help test-takers pass their exams.
While certification can give security auditors a career boost, many industry employers value academic degrees. Consider the options below:
- Associate in Cybersecurity Programs
- Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity Programs
- Master's in Cybersecurity Programs
- Bachelor's in Information Technology Programs
- Master's in Information Assurance Programs
- Computer Science Degree Programs
- Information Systems Security Degrees
- Cybersecurity Bootcamps
How to Choose the Best Security Auditor Certifications
Choosing the best security auditor certifications requires that you consider several factors:
Start with why. Establish why you're pursuing certification. Do you have a career plan? Does your organization or industry require certification? Are you hoping to get new skills that could help advance your current role? Find out what certifications are available and what they mean. What is the scope of your desired certification? How is it different from other certifications? What kind of work experience do you need? Discover which security auditor certifications match your career goals. Do you prefer management or hands-on technology work? Are you expecting to become a chief security information officer? Ask how much the program costs. Does the certification fit your budget? Will your employer help pay for the costs?
Resources for Security Auditors
Questions About Certifications for Security Auditors
How long does it take to get a certification in security auditing?
Certification exams can require 4-6 months of preparation. Organizations may offer courses online or through in-person and online sessions, depending on the certification provider. Some certifications require applicants to hold several years of experience before taking the exam.
Do security auditors need to be licensed?
Security auditors do not need a state license to practice their profession. Individual employers, however, may require their company's security auditors to hold industry-recognized certifications.
Which certification provides the best competency for security auditing?
The Certified Information Systems Auditor credential may provide the best competency certification for security auditing. Test-takers prove their ability to ensure compliance, manage vulnerabilities, leverage standards, institute controls, and ultimately deliver value.
Do I need to get certifications to become a security auditor?
For many people, certification may fulfill a requirement to obtain premium jobs at tech companies. While all employers do not require certifications, they have become more popular, and many large firms may expect applicants to hold an appropriate credential.
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