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Cisco Retired the CCNA Cyber Ops

by Team Nuggets
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Published on March 30, 2020

We initially thought CCNA Cyber Ops was spared in the certpocalypse, but it appears big changes to this certification were merely delayed.

Cisco will be retiring the two CCNA Cyber Ops certification exams on May 28, 2020, and they've already changed the cert name to Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate. There will be overlap between the previous exams and the new one, especially in regard to foundational topics. However, there's a big change here.

Cisco is consolidating the two exams — SECOPS and SECFND — into one exam, the 200-201 CBROPS, which will be available on May 29, 2020. Cisco is streamlining the process to ensure its relevance to the coming decade's security landscape. Understanding these changes will help you to prepare for and pass the Cisco Certified CyberOps certification exam.

What is Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate Certification?

According to Cisco, this certification is the first step in preparing for a career in cybersecurity and cybersecurity operations. It covers the fundamental skills and knowledge that professionals need to succeed in the challenging cybersecurity field.

Because Cisco is one of the top global producers of networking equipment, having an in-depth understanding of how to configure, secure, and maintain its hardware is a valuable asset.

The 200-201 exam includes the following domains:

  • Security concepts

  • Security monitoring

  • Host-based analysis

  • Network intrusion analysis

  • Security policies and procedures

As you can see, the 200-201 CBROPS exam covers cybersecurity's foundational skills. You'll need to understand topics as a conceptual level, including encryption, PKI infrastructure, firewalls, and antivirus, alongside some specific technologies like Wireshark, TCP, and SIEM.

The certification is approved for the DoD 85701.01-M for the CSSP analyst and CCSP incident responder categories, which makes it ideal for IT pros who work or want to work in the government sector.

Have a Current Cyber Ops Cert?

If you already hold an active CCNA Cyber Ops, you'll automatically receive the new CyberOps Associate certificate on February 24. If you're in the process of studying for current certification, or already passed the SECOPS or SECFND exam, you have until May 28 to sit for these tests and become certified.

What You Need to Know: 200-201 CBROPS

The new Cyber Ops exam, 200-201 CBROPS, has a 120-minute time limit and contains between 95 and 105 questions. An associate-level exam, there are no pre-requisites, however, we recommend at a minimum of 12 months of hands-on cybersecurity experience. Although Cisco has not yet released an official exam price at the time of writing, we expect it to cost $300, the price of most of its associate-level exams.

You may want to consider earning the entry-level certifications, Cisco Certified Technicians (CCT) and Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technicians (CCENT), prior to sitting for the 200-201 CBROPS exam.

What's Changing?

While we don't know too many specifics about the content changes for the new certification, we know that this move is part of a larger effort to maintain the applicability and relevance of Cisco's exams. One main takeaway is that this exam is a condensed version of two separate exams, SECOPS and SECFND. At a high level, the new exam covers the same breadth of material as the previous two exams — from endpoint threat analysis to incident handling to security monitoring.

However, it appears to have less depth. For instance, the SECFND's cryptography domain required knowledge of hash algorithms (MD5, SHA-1, etc.) and encryption algorithms (DES, AES, etc.), while the new exam asks us, for example, to describe encryption's impact on data visibility.

While it's important for you to know about different types of encryption — especially for your job — the CBROPS test requires a more theoretical framework of the issue. This is both good news and bad news.

The good news is that you don't have to memorize as many acronyms or differentiate between so many similar technologies. The bad news is that you need to cover a wider area to become proficient in everything that this test asks.

Why Get the New CyberOps Associate?

Cybersecurity is one of the world's fastest-growing fields. We saw a 8.2% worldwide growth in jobs from 2018, and expect to see around 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings in 2021 alone.

Six out of 10 security jobs require certification, according to Cisco. Becoming certified shows that you have what it takes to prevent, detect, and defend as part of a Security Operations Center team. It's a surefire way to boost your career, move up the ranks, and become a more valued security expert.

This exam is also a stepping stone to other certifications, and by extension, more advanced positions. The CyberOps Associate ranks higher than entry-level, but lower than specialist-level certifications. After becoming certified, CyberOps Associate cert holders can open new doors via advanced certifications, such as CCNP Enterprise, DevNet Professional, CCNP Collaboration, CCNP Data Center, and CCNP Security.

If nothing else, becoming certified can boost your confidence by proving both to yourself and potential employers that you have what it takes to thrive in a challenging cybersecurity field.

Final Thoughts

Threats are becoming more sophisticated. New attack vectors arise as organizations increase their network's surface with technologies like public cloud and IoT. They need to do more than stay afloat, they need to stay ahead of threats.

That's why the demand for IT pros with cybersecurity skills continues to grow — and that's why IT pros need to keep their knowledge up to date with the latest certifications. Cisco is releasing the Certified CyberOps Associate as part of their certification transformation because they recognize this need.

Seek out training that works for you. Understand how changes to the test alter your preparation but don't let it dissuade you from sitting the exam. With enough hard work, effort, and patience, you can become certified with the latest Cisco cybersecurity credentials.


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