Since the creation of the first wireless networks, there have been people who have tried to hack into them -- many of them successfully. Often, the only consequences were that someone ended up providing free Wi-Fi to the aspiring hacker in the apartment next door. However, as Wi-Fi networks began making inroads into the enterprise, the issue of wireless networking security became more serious.
Today, Wi-Fi is a pervasive technology that has become a requirement in many business and government environments. And, with access to sensitive data and financial assets as incentives, modern hackers have made significant advances from the good old days of "war-driving" (driving around with a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop, looking for unsecured wireless networks to tap into for free Internet access).
Wireless security experts who are looking for an industry certification that offers validation of their skills to an employer, should consider the CWSP Certified Wireless Security Professional credential from the Certified Wireless Network Professional organization.
The Certified Wireless Security Professional credential offers good value as a industry-recognized designation. Its governing organization, Certified Wireless Network Professional, has been active since 1999 and is partnered with many other groups around the globe. The CWSP has the advantage of being a vendor-neutral certification, which means it is not tied to a specific manufacturer's hardware or proprietary wireless technology. This gives the CWSP a universal value to both businesses and governments, making it a potentially desirable certification for wireless networking pros worldwide.
Earning a CWNP designation
CWNP offers a number of vendor-neutral certifications, all of them based around wireless LAN technologies. As you might expect from the name, the CWSP certification is all about securing enterprise wireless networks, keeping them safe from intrusion and attack.
The CWSP certification is classified by CWNP as a professional-level certification, meaning that it is considered to be above an entry-level certification. As such, there is a prerequisite certification, the Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA), which is also available from CWNP.
Here are the requirements to achieve the CWSP certification:
- Hold a valid Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) certification.
- Pass the official CWSP exam (exam PW0-204).
The PW0-204 exam can be taken through any Pearson VUE testing center; check the Pearson website to find a nearby center and book a place online. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice/multiple-answer questions. Exam takers cannot skip questions and return to them later, and once a question has been answered, the answer cannot be changed. Candidates have 90 minutes to complete the exam, and they must achieve a passing score of 70 percent or higher to get the CWSP credential.
A description of the full exam and its objectives is available in a PDF document that can be downloaded from the CWSP webpage. The webpage also has a link to a highly recommended study aid: a PDF that contains the terminology used throughout all of the CWNP certification exams.
Here are the major subjects covered in the PW0-204 exam, with an estimated percentage of how much of the exam is dedicated to each one:
- Security Design and Architecture (50%)
- Monitoring and Management (25%)
- Wireless Network Attacks and Threat Assessment (10%)
- Fast Secure Roaming (10%)
- Security Policy (5%)
Renewing the certificate
Once a candidate has passed the exam, the CWSP certification is valid for three years. After three years, the CWSP certification can be renewed by passing the currently offered version of the test.