Showing posts with label Career Progression. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Career Progression. Show all posts

Saturday, November 12, 2016

How to Pick A Legit Professional Security Certification aka How Not To Get Scammed In Ten Easy Steps!!

One of the cornerstones of any successful career is training. It's no different in security. Whether you're at a seminar or enrolled in a course, you're doing so because you want to move forward professionally. What better way to demonstrate you're prepared for the "next step" than to take a course or two and learn a new skill? Yeah, it often sounds cooler than it is. What's even worse, in my opinion, is that for many of us the price of pursuing professional development ain't cheap.

I love the American Society for Industrial Security International (ASIS). It is awesome for all-things professional development in security. It has networking, great conferences, expos, a reference library, and its own bookstore. ASIS is also host to some of the most sought-after professional certifications around the world for security. There's one catch - it's pricey. It'll run you about $400 dollars including annual dues to pursue their Physical Security Professional (PSP) certification. It's recognized even by the United States government in the SAFE Act and also has ANSI/ISO 17024 Personnel Accreditation.

ASIS isn't the only horse in the stable offering professional certifications in security. My only problem is almost none of them require the breadth of knowledge, professional recommendations, and experience levels ASIS requires. Many are purely paper-mills.

There is a professional certification body that has a horrific reputation in our industry. I've heard from numerous of their certificate holders all that was needed for their certification was a check and they received a lapel pin, t-shirt, a CD with reference materials which were mostly outdated, and a diploma. In fact, if you go to their site and attempt to pull up their "sample" certification test, you get a 404 error code. There have been a number of articles written on the founder as well.

Getting a professional certification or even getting good training from reputable people can be difficult. My advice?
  1. Ask around on security, tactical, or law enforcement forums. There are lots of forums on the Internet that cover these schools and certifications. You're not the only person who wants to grow professionally. Be careful - look for guys who have a solid reputation in the group. My favorite sources are the folks who don't have to tell you what they do every post but you have an idea.
  2. Find a mentor to ask. Seriously, if you don't have a mentor in security, you're doing your career all-kinds of wrong. Get a mentor and ask about training and certifications.
  3. Search LinkedIn. I know. I know. LinkedIn can be seen as the worst place to network. I get that which I said "search". That's right - look at the qualifications of folks who are where you want to be professionally and see what certifications they have. See if the certification passes your "sniff test". Basically, if it seems legitimate and checks out with other reputable sources, then it might just be okay. Be careful - even "legit" folks fall for the trap of easy paper-mill certifications.
  4. Investigate who recognizes certain certifications. The easiest way to spot a fake certification is to which, if any government bodies formally recognizes them. By "formally", I mean look for statutory and regulatory citations of the certifications. If they won't recognize it on "official letterhead", then already have a good idea it may be something you don't need or want. 
  5. Check to see if a certification is needed for jobs similar to a job you're wanting but on another employer's site. It sounds shadier than it sounds. Okay, it does sound a bit shady but let me explain. We're not looking for a new job - yet. We're looking to see if other employers require a certification for that position. For example, the other day I saw a job listing for a job I would give my left arm and my dog's favorite bowl for. Yes, it was that serious. That job listing had a certification I had never heard of and certainly not one I had seen on other listings. I scour the Internet and sure enough, it's really cool and legitimate certification. Psssst. If anyone knows a guy who knows a guy who can get me to a Lenel certification, I'd greatly appreciate it.
  6. Check the price tag. I hate to tell you this but security training and certification ain't cheap. Personally, I have spent well over a few thousand dollars of my own money to get certifications and training. These certifications and training have given me a "leg up" on the competition in some ways and have afforded me new skills but they did not come cheap. Most of the legitimate stuff that is out there is expensive. If you can't get your employer to pay for it (because they're either too cheap or you're not employed), then I suggest saving up and paying later. Trust me. If it's cheap and supposed to be amazingly career-enhancing, chances are it's probably not one of those things.
  7. Read and research the testimonials. A lot of places brag about having "security directors" and "officials" but often, this is just pure fluff. Wait. I misspoke - it's just a flat-out lie. I suggest you read the testimonials. I'm not saying some certification bodies don't have management and executives getting their certifications. There are some who definitely are not honest, though. Find out more about the people who laud the body - who they are professionally, do they actually exist, and whether they have a bias. You shouldn't base your decision on testimonials but they can be a key component in the process.
  8. Check the reference materials needed for the course. I love any certification that requires industry-standard texts (ahem, ASIS....That's why I love how you certify). I also like certifications that have online instruction materials as well. Most paper-mills will furnish you with a text and have you take it open-book. Nope. Kind of a red flag for me.
  9. Avoid open-book certifications. Not all open-book certifications are bad. Most are very cool. This was my preferred method of certification in the military. That said, I'm a grown-up now and employers like something that forces you to study and come away with industry-standard competence in both skill and comprehension. In other words, an open-book exam doesn't "teach" you anything.
  10. Any respectable training or certification vets its students. Any program that doesn't ask you any questions beyond your credit card is probably not the kind of place you want a certification from. ASIS has you submit references for the PSP exam and sign a "blood oath". Just kidding, ASIS. No, just the references. I know if I was going to certify a person on a skill-set that could get people killed if not applied properly, I'd want them screened beforehand so I'd know if they could handle that responsibility. Pain in the butt for us going for the certification? No doubt. Make you feel like you belong to an elite group of professionals? No doubt.

There are other thoughts I'm sure on this. The simple truth is getting certified is no easy task and if it were easy, you wouldn't like it very much.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Rules: 10 Things Every Entry-level Security Person Needs to Know & Every Pro Forgets

There are principles which are inherently the same no matter what discipline of security you practice. Although, for some reason, some of us tend to forget them to our detriment. I blame 99.9% of all practitioner -caused security failures on this. What's worse is that rookies aren't the only one's who miss them. A lot of these issues come from pros who should know better. Like everything else, we need a refresher.

  1. Our business is about risk. This profession isn't just about assigning widgets to fix people's security issues. We deal with asking and solving really tough questions the end-user is often scared to address or doesn't know exist. If you're just selling a product to meet a quota or performing a security function to satisfy a job description, you're wrong. Start by asking the client about the resources he's protecting and what he's willing to do to protect it. Next, ask him if it's worth protecting. Most people believe EVERYTHING needs security. Precious time and resources are sometimes wasted defending something no one cares about to include the bad guys.
  2. Security is a state of mind; not an objective. Do you know how many of us believe the mythology that tells us we can attain security as if it were quantitative? Of course you do. An entire industry is built around this ridiculous premise. Nothing is 100% secure - ever! It can't be. There's always a vulnerability. I'm not saying not to bother with security. I'm just asking you to consider what it is you're trying to do and to consider if you and the client have realistic goals.
  3. Know your tools. I'm surprised by the number of practitioners who know so little about the tools that are available to protect their assets. People have this problematic tendency to learn from vendors about the tools offered but fail to educate themselves. Venture to some trade shows. Join ASIS. Ask around the Internet. Become a sponge. Too many of us are bricks. There aren't enough of us taking in knowledge in order to give knowledge back.
  4. Know your limitations. Face it, there are some problems you can't fix. Seriously. If you can't do the job, be honest. Say you can't and find someone else who can. You'll keep your integrity and impress the client more by being honest. You'll also develop a good rapport with trusted colleagues you refer. Trust me this is a good thing. After the referral, tag along. Be that sponge I mentioned previously.
  5. Define your goals. When I was a supervisor in the Air Force, I can't tell you how many of my troops' professional failings came from forgeting this simple step. Look, no one likes writing goals except for those insanely productive people who live inside Lifehacker.  But what's the harm in sitting down and mapping out your weaknesses, what you can to do to fix them, and assigning a goal to reach them? Absolutely nothing. So get started.

    This can and should also be applied to security projects. Define what the project is, what the client's expectations are, determine how you can meet them, and then set goals in order to meet each objective. It's simple but few people do it. Failing to do it guarantees you'll lose an opportunity to work on future projects. 
  6. Know your terrain. Do you really understand the security environment? I'm not just talking about the threat. So often, we ignore the internal and external impacts of our measures which undermine our ability to properly protect these assets. For example, in many businesses, there is a key exchange. If you need access to a secure area, you have to leave a badge to receive a key into the area. This seems like a perfectly harmless idea, until users grow tired of giving up their badges and the person conducting the exchange is increasingly wary of having to do it. Security lapses occur as the "inconvenience" outweighs the security concerns. Don't believe me? Three words - Transportation Security Administration. Learn the terrain and figure out what will work the smoothest.
  7. Education begins with exposure. My take on security education is simple - you don't know what you need to know because you're not out there asking the right people. I know some people may be scratching their heads at that. But it's the truth. So many of us are ignorant of the threat, the tools, and the terrain because we haven't taken the steps to "get smart" about them.
  8. Befriend your enemy. I'm not telling you to "friend request" al-Shabab on Facebook or chat with MS-13 members on Twitter. What I'm suggesting is that you not only read up on their operations but try to get some basic understanding of their collective psychology. Learn how they conduct target selection, who they work with, how they recruit, their tools, etc. This will not only give you an idea as to how to build a better security plan but it will also enable you to ensure it's both comprehensive and adaptive.
  9. Everyone has a sales pitch. My first venture into private security was interesting, to say the least. I learned a lot from that gig. One of the lessons that stood out the most was to always be on the lookout for the sale pitch. Learning your client's pitch will enable you to ensure how you protect his resources won't effect his "bottom-line". Would be it a good idea to have dome cameras installed over tables at restaurants? Of course not. What most restaurants sell, in addition to food, is a friendly environment where you can dine among friends. A dome camera over your table robs you of that, thus killing the restaurant's sale pitch. I've never seen that happen but it does illustrate how quickly we can lose the client's respect and business by forgetting they have a business to run as well. 
  10. Vigilance is demanded. When I wrote the first draft of this article, I originally wrote "vigilance is expected." That was a HUGE mistake. Why? Because "expected" means you accept a margin of failure. In this business, apathy is where all good security measures go to die. I recognize the fine line between hyper-vigilance and vigilance. Certainly, there needs to be a balance. Just remember, at the end of the day, when there is a breach, you'll be forced to address why you violated this most sacred of security "rules". If you're a supervisor, your vision of how your people practice their profession should have this rule at the forefront. Julius Ceasar had a special patrol he conducted before battle to catch wayward soldiers sleep on their post. The maximum and usual penalty? Death. While the consequences aren't quite as dire as this in the real world at times, complacency will destroy our ability to adequately protect the client and their resources. This is a compromise we can't afford to allow - EVER.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

FREE Training: Ever wanted to learn how to be a locksmith?

Who like FREE training?  I know I do.  So every time I find FREE training, you better believe I'm going and I'm posting it for all eyes on this site.  The Society of Professional Locksmiths is offering FREE locksmith training for beginners.

Who are they? And what's this FREE training all about? According to their site,
"It is a professional organization that embraces all levels of skill and expertise. Through education and support, the Society provides its members the skills needed to succeed.
That FREE training I mentioned earlier is called the "Locksmith Training Program" which "consists of 12 chapters of "core knowledge" all locksmiths are expected to learn and considered to be manadtory."

To find out more click here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

FREE CCTV Training

Closed circuit television systems are in just about every corner of the globe and monitor a huge portion of our lives.  It has been argued, since their inception, we allow them greater access to us than most people we know intimately.  If you have anything to do with security, these cameras and the software which accompany can also be part of your daily work life.   Often times, in security, it is difficult finding free online training on any particular topic especially the fundamentals of CCTV systems.  

Thankfully, the folks at IP Video Market Info were kind of enough to create a blog post which contains hyperlinks to 
"series of videos from Pelco that provide strong coverage of these fundamentals (note: you can download the videos from Pelco's site as well).
The focus of this series is on traditional CCTV.  To complement this, you should read guides on IP video surveillance. Two in-depth guides are available - Axis's Technical Guide to Network Video and Vivotek's IP Video Surveillance Handbook.
Finally, review our tutorials directory for dozens of resources introducing video surveillance and our free Video Surveillance Book."
Did I mention this was FREE training?  Who doesn't like "free" anything particularly when its offered by the guys behind the machines?  What a great starting point to learn more about these systems and how to operate, install, and manage them.

Feel free to check out the rest of the article and training they have available at: 

SURVEY: Career Progression in the Security Industry

As of late, I've become curious as to how one moves up the corporate security ladder.  In the military, it was quite simple - you took a test and did well on your performance evaluations.  I have become curious how different that is in the private sector so I've decided to ask professionals such as yourselves. Please take a few minutes to answer my survey.  I'll publish the results in a week or so once I have gotten replies back.  Feel free to comment below if you would like to further share your thoughts.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

About Us