CASP Keeps this Veteran on his Toes

by Jim Staats | Apr 23, 2012

As the technical equivalent of a “gym rat,” Weylin Piegorsch took on the new CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification exam for the professional challenge and came away impressed. Piegorsch, a network engineer for Computer Sciences Corp., said although his current job duties don’t revolve around computer security, “I expect CASP to bear great rewards for future positions, and was interested in it to increase my future marketability.”

It doesn’t hurt to have the CompTIA pedigree, as he can attest. Embedded with the genes of a lifelong computer “nerd” from his father, Piegorsch, 33, said not that long ago he was a veteran of the U.S. Navy with little in the way of applicable technical skills.

“When I left the Navy, where my work was not related to being an IT technician, I had very little recent credentials I could put by my name to demonstrate my technical value and capability,” he said. “Due to the vendor neutrality, CompTIA certification was the first path I chose to pursue.”

Now possessing an extensive list of professional certifications including CompTIA Security+, CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+, in that order, as he noted, Piegorsch said the opportunity afforded him to become an early beta tester for CASP was a no-brainer.

As to the exam itself, Piegorsch described it as anything but a no-brainer. As one with a four-year degree in computer science focused on computer security, extensive training in network operations, CCNA certification and several years of experience in both policy and implementation of computer security, Piegorsch said “even with what I have, I feel I barely passed.”

“It really is a hard exam,” he noted. “I was able to rely on (experience) to get me through the parts I understood and exercised good judgment to figure out enough of the rest.”

Piegorsch said his interest in such technical challenges dates back to his younger years when he assembled workstations for nearby companies, became a defacto technician for his college computer department and eventually served as security manager on his submarine and shift supervisor at the U.S. Department of Defense’s  Pacific communication center.

The Kailua resident remains connected to the DoD, but these days it’s in a civilian role migrating the Pacific-region telephone network from TDM to VoIP service.
For Piegorsch, the lack of directly applicable security duties is of little consequence.

“CASP occupies a strongly-needed niche,” he said. “Some certifications, like (CompTIA) Security+, validate your ability to learn computer security. Other certifications, like CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), validate your ability to manage computer security. I know of no other certification that tests a candidate’s ability to actually implement the knowledge of Security+ and the policies of CISSP, in a vendor-neutral setting.”

The comprehensive exam, Piegorsch said, requires significant knowledge, an understanding of sound security-related engineering practices and an ability to marry all aspects of computer security into an actual product.

“I feel that it’s one of my most important certifications that I hold,” he said.


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