The CPT certification and exam - Infosec Resources (2022)

An introduction to the Certified Penetration Tester (CPT) Certification

So you want to be among the next generation of information security professionals and make your contribution to ensure the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (CIA) of online systems? Are you interested in the safeguard of digital assets, in protecting corporate networks and apps and advising business managers on how to better secure their IT infrastructure and devices? Than you might want to consider “ethical hacking” as a career for carrying out penetration testing and security assessments.

These white-hat hacker professionals test companies’ security measures and procedures by employing many of the same tactics that malicious intruders use in attacking systems. By utilizing tools and methods such as penetration testing, they are able to give a true measure of the overall safety of the company’s IT environment.

With the system owner’s permission, they take full control of computers on the network to check for security holes that could be exploited. They then advise on safeguards that the organization should establish to protect devices and critical data before they become compromised and used illegally. Growing concern about security means that companies need certified penetration testers (CPTs) to help keep their information safe.

This is sometimes thought to be one of the most frustrating jobs in the information security field. Penetration testers need to have the right mix of hands-on, practical skills and formal knowledge to understand the unique requirements of each system analyzed. That said, you may very well have what it takes to become a CPT.

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Getting started

There are many different places to start on a journey towards becoming an ethical hacker. To steer your career exactly where you would like it to go in the penetration testing specialty, a great start is preparing for and obtaining an industry-recognized credential. This will help you identify, acquire and prove valuable job role skills.

In fact, a certification can give professionals a blueprint of which topics to cover in order to best prepare for the job. It can also give employers a measure of their ability and readiness as an ethical hacker, as it shows that they’re opting to use their abilities for good rather than evil.

With a shortage of talented people with these skills to fill such roles, now it is the right time to enter the field and start this rewarding career. The Infosec Institute (Infosec Institute), an industry standard organization formed by information security professionals, offers the type of training and certification (including practical examination and lab practica) to become a Certified Penetration Tester (CPT). Infosec Institute uses the CPT exam to test the students’ abilities in pentesting positions by putting their knowledge into practice and get their hands on actual hacking attacks.

The CPT exam

How does one attain the CPT credential? The first step is passing a 50-question online test in two hours. The pass rate for this multiple-choice test is 70%. Successful candidates are then tested through a hands-on practicum, a take-home exam that needs to be completed within 60 days. Candidates will have to successfully complete three penetration challenges in order to become certified. A passing score is at least 70%.

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Infosec Institute’s Certified Penetration Tester Exam deals with pentesting domains such as network protocol attacks, Windows/Unix/Linux exploits and wireless security. In particular, it focuses on the following nine domains:

  • Pentesting methodologies
  • Network protocol attacks
  • Network recon
  • Vulnerability identification
  • Windows exploits
  • Unix and Linux exploits
  • Covert channels and rootkits
  • Wireless security flaws
  • Web app vulnerabilities

It is clear how this certification requires professionals to demonstrate their knowledge of theories and concepts as well as hands-on skills. Penetration testers do come from many different walks of life and such a credential can help demonstrate their real-world abilities regardless of their career history.

Taking the CPT test is possible through three options:

  • Test locations throughout the world
  • On-site proctoring for groups of 10 or more testers
  • Online for individuals in member organizations

Candidates can Check Test Status online. All communications are normally conducted via email. Once logged in, students have access to certification attempts as well as study files, if applicable.

(Video) How to Register for a CompTIA Certification Exam

To be a CPT, exam candidates will need to pay a flat fee of $499 per exam and $399 per voucher for on-site proctored exams. A CPT certification is valid for four years. To recertify, candidates will be taking the same exams as professionals currently trying to certify, which is through the same exam engine system. The recertification will become available for registration one year in advance of the certification expiration.

What is the best way to prepare for the CPT exam?

As the road to pentesting varies from professional to professional, there is no one way to prepare for such a career. Many pentesters do not hold specialized degrees, and job experience often supersedes the need of cybersecurity formal studies. It is important, then, that professionals follow a structured developmental training and be able to hold a formal credential that verifies their abilities.

Essential skill sets to learn in pursuing a CPT certification include:

For a valuable, immersive experience, Infosec’s 5-day Penetration and Testing Boot Camp is available to give students in-depth training into techniques used by hackers with real life exercises.

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What should I expect from a penetration testing career?

A career in penetration testing means that you will be tasked with performing threat assessments and formulating analytic responses to relay findings to infrastructure and development security teams. Therefore, it helps to think like a criminal or hacker when exploiting security weaknesses, but it is also necessary to be able to identify the proper countermeasures. It’s also important to be able to tune and optimize both a company’s cybersecurity program and the technologies deployed, in order to implement the right strategies to protect critical assets and infrastructure.

Professionals certified in pentesting can give company managers the assurance they will look for weak points in less traditional ways and make a realistic assessment of a company’s “cybersecurity posture” by scanning and penetrating their network (with the consent of the organization) while still acting in ways that ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the environment and its data.

Security experts predict there will be a great demand for penetration testing services and that is a good reason to enter the profession. This also means there are and will be many employment opportunities in the field. It is a career you can expect to hear plenty more about in the near future, as many businesses are looking for an adaptive security strategy.

The value of this type of position is that it opens doors for candidates who might not necessarily follow the same channels used by other IT and information security professionals (specialized degrees, years of work experience starting from entry-level jobs), but nevertheless have a passion or a talent for the work. They’re people who have a passion for cybersecurity crime investigation, a knack for finding exploits and backdoors, and knowledge acquired independently through the most varied means: self-study and practice, participation in a hacking group and more.

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These days, such in-demand professionals with technical/practical skills are in short supply, as seen on the job market, and employers have vacancies for the right pentesters to help probe and improve their networks, applications, and other computer systems.

Conclusion

There is no doubt a lucrative career option for information security professionals is in penetration testing. However, it might be difficult to excel as a pentester without finding ways to prove abilities that are normally not acquired through formal education (or, at least, solely through formal education). To be considered for such a position or role will compel pros to have the right qualifications, certifications or designations. Candidates can be creative in how to obtain this knowledge, but it can be a great help to study for pentesting-related certifications that give an idea of what is required to excel in the field.

In addition to the many courses available from reputable training institutes, there are also self-study options through books. Another option is attending any of the related conferences, such as the Black Hat USA 2019 in Las Vegas. There, pentesting courses and briefings will be available in Basic Infrastructure Hacking, Hands-On Hacking Fundamentals – Beginner Level, Exploit Development for Beginners and more.

Sources

  1. So You Wanna Be A Pen Tester?, Dark Reading
  2. Become a Penetration Tester, CyberDegrees.org
  3. How to Become an Ethical Hacker, PCWorld
  4. How To Become A White Hat Hacker, Business News Daily
  5. Average Penetration Tester Salary, PayScale
  6. Penetration Testing Is a Reference Point, Not a Strategy, CI Security
  7. Why Is Penetration Testing Critical to the Security of the Organization?, Tripwire
  8. Cyber Security Training and Certifications have Expanded Rapidly, Where Should you Focus?, infosecurity-magazine.com
  9. What is the Difference Between Black, White and Grey Hat Hackers?, Symantec Corporation

FAQs

What is the easiest security certification to get? ›

Answer: The easiest Security Certifications include:

CompTIA Security+ Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Security Fundamentals. CSX Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate.

What is CPT in cyber security? ›

CEH stands for Certified Ethical Hackers and CPT stands for Certified Penetration Testers.

What CERT should I get after Security+? ›

After earning CompTIA Security+, cybersecurity professionals can take the next step by pursuing an intermediate-level cybersecurity certification, such as CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) or CompTIA PenTest+.

What do I get after Cissp? ›

The CISSP covers middle management skills, while the CCISO teaches executive cybersecurity leadership skills. This is why you should consider taking a CCISO after your CISSP certification.

Can you get a cybersecurity job with just a certificate? ›

Companies are increasingly hiring cybersecurity job applicants who do not have college degrees but do have relevant certificates. The field is growing so fast that there simply aren't enough degree-holding candidates to fill the positions, so those who have the right certificates have a great chance of getting hired.

How hard is IT to pass the Security+ exam? ›

To earn your Security Plus certification, you need to take a single exam, it's 90 minutes in length, and you could get up to 90 questions during the exam. You're graded on a scale between 100 and 900 and of that scale, you need to get a 750 to pass your exam.

Should I get a+ before Security+? ›

Although people with Security+ tend to earn better salaries than those with A+, Security+ is still an entry-level certificate. You don't need the A+ certification before taking Security+, but it is recommended so you are well-versed with the basics of computing and security.

What is CompTIA Security+ salary? ›

Average pay after CompTIA Security+ certification

According to the Certification Magazine 2022 Salary Survey, the average salary of a Security+ certified professional is $115,170 in the U.S. and 106,910 worldwide.

DO I NEED A+ if I have Security+? ›

You don't need to take the CompTIA A+ certification test before taking the Security+ certification exam, and you probably shouldn't, because if you're going into the profession of cyber security, you should focus on getting the Network+ and Security+ instead.

Does CISSP guarantee job? ›

It certifies that you have a certain level of knowledge, and actually is more intended for senior level people. Most Infosec jobs I know above a certain level expect (sometimes require) a CISSP, but having a CISSP is no guarantee. You need to after jobs that match your skills and experience.

Can I get a job with just CISSP? ›

Getting a job after you pass the CISSP is all dependent on your experience and education. The certification on its own won't get you a job as a security engineer, CISO, auditor, or security administrator. The CISSP is meant to augment your experience and education to help you move forward in your career.

Is CISSP good for career? ›

If you want to make the next best career move in the world of information security, you should become a CISSP professional. It will not only boost your career options but will also provide you with a plethora of networking opportunities, educational materials, and other benefits.

Can a non IT person learn cyber security? ›

Cybersecurity is actually very easily understood, learnt and applied by non-techies all over the world. There are many top cybersecurity practitioners in the world who have no technology background whatsoever. That means no course on cybersecurity needs to be complicated or esoteric.

Can you do cybersecurity without coding? ›

Do Cybersecurity Analysts Code? For most entry-level cybersecurity jobs, coding skills are not required. However, as cybersecurity professionals seek mid- or upper-level positions, coding may be necessary to advance in the field.

How can I get into cybersecurity with no experience? ›

How to Get Into Cybersecurity With No Experience?
  1. Look at your current background and job role.
  2. IT Training Courses and Certifications For People With No Experience.
  3. Network and Use LinkedIn.
  4. Think Outside the Box.
  5. Keep a Close Eye on These Technologies.
  6. Salaries to Expect In Entry Level Position.

How long should I study for the Security+ exam? ›

If you are already familiar with the topics on the exam, 30 to 45 days is an acceptable Security+ study time. If someone has no prior IT knowledge, 60 days would be a better option. The test is divided into many domains.

How can I pass my Security+ Fast? ›

10 tips for CompTIA Security+ exam success [updated 2022]
  1. Become familiar with the Security+ exam domains. ...
  2. Create a study plan. ...
  3. Take practice exams. ...
  4. Get plenty of rest. ...
  5. Get to know your exam. ...
  6. Leverage free exam-prep resources. ...
  7. Get involved in an exam prep course. ...
  8. Join a Security+ online community.
24 Mar 2022

How many times can you take the Security+ exam? ›

CompTIA beta examinations may only be taken one (1) time by each candidate. c. A test found to be in violation of the retake policy will be invalidated and the candidate may be subject to a suspension period. Repeat violators will be permanently banned from participation in the CompTIA Certification Program.

Will CompTIA Security+ get me a job? ›

Jobs That Require or Benefit from a CompTIA Security+ Certification. The job roles covered by CompTIA Security+ are categorized under network and computer systems administrators by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of jobs in this category is expected to grow by more than six percent by 2026.

Is Network+ or Security+ harder? ›

Compared to Network+, Security+ is a significantly more challenging course. Because, in passing the Security+ certification exam, you must be familiar with all of the content from the Net+ exam, as well as a great deal more in terms of working with both networks and security.

Is A+ or Network+ harder? ›

1 Answer. A No and Yes, Network+ certification is more comfortable than A+ for some, is neutral for few others, and is more difficult than A+ for the rest.

Is the Security+ exam worth IT? ›

The CompTIA Security+ certification is worth the effort if you intend to pursue a cyber security related career track or you want to add security credentials to your resume, or if need to learn network security as part of your job.

How many people are A+ certified? ›

CompTIA A+ Is Held By More Than 1 Million People.

How many questions are on the security Plus exam? ›

The CompTIA Security+ exam has no more than 90 questions. After completing the exam, you will be asked to fill out some optional exit survey information about your study practices and why you decided to get certified. This will consist of about 12 multiple-choice questions.

Does the A+ certification expire? ›

Your CompTIA A+ certification is good for three years from the date you pass your certification exam.

Is A+ or Network+ Better? ›

Some students prefer to go through Network+ before the A+ certification exams. The CompTIA Network+training course material is a bit less dense, and focuses specifically on networking knowledge, while A+ covers a wide variety of topics. This makes Network+ easier for some students to complete.

Which is Better Security+ or Network+? ›

The CompTIA Security+ certification is a better choice than the CompTIA Network+ certification for most people looking to enter into the IT or cybersecurity fields because it validates a higher level of skill and knowledge, commands a higher salary, and offers more career options.

What is a CISSP certification salary? ›

Average CISSP Salary. Specifically, CISSP-certified IT professionals earn a CISSP salary of $116,573, making it the third-highest CISSP certification salary for IT professionals globally. Below is an analysis of the average salaries of different CISSP professionals in some key countries across the world.

How long is the CISSP good for? ›

How long is the CISSP certification good for? While the CISSP certification is valid for three years, there are certain requirements for (ISC)² certified members and associates to maintain their membership, certification and active status.

How long does IT take to clear CISSP? ›

Risk management professionals find 60-70 hours of time for preparation quite adequate to clear the CISSP exam. IT professionals would need less time – 40-50 hours of study should suffice to clear the exam. ISC2 material is a must for professionals of all backgrounds.

What certification pays the most? ›

Top 10 highest-paying IT certifications
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified ScrumMaster.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect.
  • AWS Certified Developer – Associate.
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Can I write CISSP without experience? ›

A candidate who doesn't have the required experience to become a CISSP may become an Associate of (ISC)² by successfully passing the CISSP examination. The Associate of (ISC)² will then have six years to earn the five years required experience.

What happens if you fail the CISSP exam? ›

If you don't pass the exam on your second attempt, you may retest after 60 test-free days from your most recent exam attempt. If you don't pass the exam on your third attempt and for all subsequent retakes, you may retest after 90 test-free days from your most recent exam attempt.

How many people in the world are CISSP certified? ›

How Many CISSPs Are There In the World?
CountryNumber of CISSPsPopulation (2017)
United States82,577325,719,178
Bermuda1665,441
Hong Kong SAR1,6607,391,700
Jersey2091,084
115 more rows
10 Jan 2019

Is CISSP a big deal? ›

One example of an exam worth taking is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. It already has an impressive reputation and is widely regarded as a gold standard of information security competence.

How many hours is the CISSP exam? ›

CISSP exam schedule, duration and format

Candidates undergo a three-hour English exam consisting of 100 to 150 questions for the computerized adaptive testing (CAT); alternatively, they answer 250 questions in a six-hour testing window if taking the linear, fixed-form test administered in all other languages.

How long does IT take to get a Security+ certification? ›

The majority of people take the CompTIA Security+ test research for 30 to 45 days. This qualification is worth the effort if you mean to pursue a cyber-safety and security associated career track or you want to add safety qualifications to your resume, or if demand to discover network safety as part of your work.

How do I get into information security with no experience? ›

How to Get Into Cybersecurity With No Experience?
  1. Look at your current background and job role.
  2. IT Training Courses and Certifications For People With No Experience.
  3. Network and Use LinkedIn.
  4. Think Outside the Box.
  5. Keep a Close Eye on These Technologies.
  6. Salaries to Expect In Entry Level Position.

Is Security+ an entry level? ›

The CompTIA Security+ certification validates that you have the core skills necessary for a career in IT security. For many aspiring cybersecurity professionals, earning this popular entry-level certification can be a first step toward a rewarding, in-demand career.

How long does IT take to study for Security+ certification? ›

Most people prepare for the Security+ certification test for 30 to 45 days on average and 60 days with no prior IT experience.

What is CompTIA Security+ salary? ›

Average pay after CompTIA Security+ certification

According to the Certification Magazine 2022 Salary Survey, the average salary of a Security+ certified professional is $115,170 in the U.S. and 106,910 worldwide.

What percent do you need to pass Security+? ›

Passing score for Security+ exam

The exam is graded on a scale from 100 to 900, with a minimum of 750 to pass. Any score less than 750 is considered a failing grade.

How many times can I take the CompTIA Security+ exam? ›

CompTIA beta examinations may only be taken one (1) time by each candidate. c. A test found to be in violation of the retake policy will be invalidated and the candidate may be subject to a suspension period. Repeat violators will be permanently banned from participation in the CompTIA Certification Program.

Can a non IT person learn cyber security? ›

Cybersecurity is actually very easily understood, learnt and applied by non-techies all over the world. There are many top cybersecurity practitioners in the world who have no technology background whatsoever. That means no course on cybersecurity needs to be complicated or esoteric.

Can I learn cyber security without coding? ›

While a lot of entry-level cyber security positions do not require programming skills, it is one of the crucial skills for some mid-level and upper-level cyber security jobs.

Can I get a cybersecurity job without a degree? ›

Yes, you can work as a cybersecurity analyst without a college degree, since many employers do not require candidates to have one. Instead of a degree, you can earn various certifications to enhance your skills as a cybersecurity analyst and help build your resume.

Do you need a+ before Security+? ›

Although people with Security+ tend to earn better salaries than those with A+, Security+ is still an entry-level certificate. You don't need the A+ certification before taking Security+, but it is recommended so you are well-versed with the basics of computing and security.

How do I prepare for my Security+ exam? ›

10 tips for CompTIA Security+ exam success [updated 2022]
  1. Become familiar with the Security+ exam domains. ...
  2. Create a study plan. ...
  3. Take practice exams. ...
  4. Get plenty of rest. ...
  5. Get to know your exam. ...
  6. Leverage free exam-prep resources. ...
  7. Get involved in an exam prep course. ...
  8. Join a Security+ online community.
24 Mar 2022

Should I Do Network+ before Security+? ›

These certifications are arranged in a sequence according to the level of difficulty. Even though CompTIA recommends to take Network+ before Security+. However, many experts suggest taking Security+ before Network+ has more advantages.

How many hours should you study for an exam? ›

If you have kept a good daily and weekly schedule, 15-20 hours should be about right for a mid-term, 20-30 for a final exam. Major papers take substantially more time and effort.

How many questions do you need to get right on the Security+ exam? ›

There are 90 questions on the Security Plus exam. The exam is 90 minutes in length, and you could get up to 90 questions during the exam. You're graded on a scale between 100 and 900 and of that scale, you need to get a 750 to pass your exam.

Is CompTIA Security+ multiple choice? ›

The CompTIA Security+ exam includes a combination of multiple-choice questions, drag and drop activities, and performance-based items. The multiple-choice questions are single- and multiple- response. Performance-based items test your ability to solve problems in a simulated environment.

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