Kingdom of knowledge

Jordan’s I(TS)2 training company and Int@j, the country’s IT association, have rolled out the Kingdom’s first Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) pre-exam initiative.

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By  Alicia Buller Published  August 31, 2004

|~|security200.jpg|~|Int@j believes Jordanian organisations are becoming increasingly concerned about securing their IT environments.|~|Jordan’s I(TS)2 training company and Int@j, the country’s IT association, have rolled out the Kingdom’s first Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) pre-exam initiative. The certification preparation course lasted five days and was attended by 29 students from local information technology companies, banks, government agencies and internet service providers (ISPs). After taking the exam, six students left the course fully certified, a notable achievement considering the stringency of CISSP as a global security standard. The government technology body, Int@j, was formed in 2000 with the vision of representing and promoting the Kingdom’s IT services industry worldwide. The CISSP registration and pre-exam course was established because Int@j believes security knowledge is a top priority if Jordan is to be a player in the global IT market. “Certification establishes a consistent method for assessing the skills and competency of security professionals,” says Aiman Mazareh, chairman of human resources committee, Int@j. I(TS)2 delivers security education and exams throughout the Middle East via its global partner (ISC)2, the International Information Systems Certification Consortium — an organisation that was established in 1989 as a non-profit body to administer security certification based on knowledge collated from security professionals in various market segments. “We aim to empower governments and commercial enterprises to combat evolving security threats and generate career opportunities for newly certified personnel,” says Samer Omar, vice president of professional services at I(TS)2. “Security management plays a crucial role in the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information systems, yet finding experienced and qualified security personnel is becoming increasingly difficult [in Jordan],” he adds. The CISSP initiative is the first step to standardising security in Jordan. I(TS)2 kick-started the process by hiring Dennis Griffin, a US security trainer, to prepare the students for the CISSP exam. Prior to taking the test, all students were required to have a minimum of fours years verified security experience. The test covered ten areas of security experience garnered from professionals across the world, including subjects such as access control systems, cryptology and security architecture. Once the exam was passed, the applications were passed to previously certified CISSP professionals to be checked for credibility and endorsed. While CISSP certification is not a guaranteed measure of success, it does represent a widely accepted standard through which perspective information security personnel can be measured. UAE-based government training body, Etisalat Academy, has also adopted the CISSP initiative and runs the programme quarterly, churning out 50 – 60 certified professionals each time. “It is a tough exam, the success rate is between 30% and 40%. But all the organisations now, the managers, engineers and professionals, have to be certified and they have to take the examinations,” says Raafat Nakhla, business development manager at Etisalat. “We have found others are doing the same in the Middle East. To my knowledge, the Middle east now has 800 I(TS)2 certified professionals,” he adds. Security is a hot issue in the Middle East. More and more training centres are adding courses such as ‘firewall planning’ and ‘ethical hacking’ to their schedules. Newly opened Dubai Informatics Computer Centre is already planning to rapidly expand its security training offerings, this is in addition to a wide range of security offerings that are already available from regional vendors such as ISS, Symantec, Cisco and CA. Now that the first CISSP course has been delivered in Jordan, there’s already another one scheduled for December this year due to demand. Furthermore, I(TS)2 has been flooded with requests for more specialised security training. “The Jordan CISSP course has been a catalyst in getting the Jordanian market moving towards IT security. We’re now looking at working with them on different levels of security courses — certified ethical hacking, forensics, security principles, network and hosting security and general security awareness workshops,” says Omar of I(TS)2. “We know that there is a lack of certified professionals in the security industry throughout the Middle East and [because of this] we’re planning to bring it to Lebanon and Syria, among other places, in 2005,” he adds. ||**||

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