The Department of Defense (DoD) in the United States has long recognized the importance of protecting its information systems from cyber threats. To ensure the personnel managing these systems are qualified, the DoD has established directives 8140 and 8570. These directives mandate baseline certifications for Information Assurance (IA) positions. In this context, the CompTIA Security+ certification has emerged as a vital credential that satisfies these requirements. Let’s delve deeper into what these directives entail and how CompTIA Security+ fits into the picture.

What are DoD 8140 and 8570?

DoD Directive 8570.01-M, also known as Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program, was introduced in 2005. Its purpose was to set standards and processes that would ensure all DoD workforce members dealing with information assurance had a standardized level of competency, achieved through certifications and continuous education.

DoD 8140, which replaces the older 8570 directive, is part of the wider DoD Directive 8140.01, “Cyberspace Workforce Management.” While it maintains many principles of the 8570, it provides updated guidance to align with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework. The emphasis is on developing a workforce capable of securing, protecting, and defending the DoD’s and associated contractors’ information systems and networks.

Categories and Levels Defined by the Directives

The directives categorize IA positions into Technical (IAT), Management (IAM), and System Architect and Engineer (IASAE) levels, each with its set of certification requirements. The levels range from I to III, indicating increasing levels of expertise and responsibility.

CompTIA Security+ and DoD Directives

CompTIA Security+ is widely recognized and respected in the IT industry. It’s an entry-level certification that covers fundamental cybersecurity knowledge required by IT professionals. When it comes to DoD 8140/8570, CompTIA Security+ certification meets the baseline certification requirement for:

  • IAT Level II: Technical staff such as system administrators, network administrators, and security technicians.
  • IAM Level I: Managers responsible for the security of an organization’s information systems.

The Core Benefits of CompTIA Security+ in Satisfying DoD Requirements

  • Recognized Baseline Certification: Security+ is acknowledged by the DoD as meeting the IA baseline certification standards, making it an essential credential for personnel seeking compliance with DoD directives.

  • Covers Fundamental Security Concepts: The certification curriculum encompasses essential cybersecurity topics such as threat management, cryptography, security risks identification, and management, providing a solid foundation required for DoD IA roles.

  • Vendor-Neutral: As a vendor-neutral certification, Security+ equips personnel with knowledge that applies across a wide range of technologies, which is beneficial for the varied systems used in defense.

  • Continuous Learning: CompTIA’s Continuing Education (CE) program aligns with the DoD’s focus on continuous learning and ensures that IA personnel remain up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity practices.

  • Global Recognition: Security+ is globally recognized, which means it is not only useful for DoD compliance but also supports career advancement in various organizations around the world.

How to Achieve and Maintain the Security+ Certification

To obtain the Security+ certification, candidates must pass a single exam that tests their cybersecurity knowledge and skills. Upon certification, to maintain the credential, professionals must accumulate Continuing Education Units (CEUs) by engaging in various activities and training related to information assurance.

Conclusion

For professionals aspiring to or currently working in IA roles within the DoD, obtaining and maintaining the CompTIA Security+ certification is not only a strategic career move but also a requirement for compliance with DoD 8140 and 8570 directives. It provides assurance that they possess the knowledge and skills necessary to protect and defend critical information infrastructures. As cyber threats evolve, the role of standardized education and certification becomes ever more critical in ensuring national security, and Security+ plays a pivotal role in this arena.

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