Talk the Security Talk? Now, Walk the Walk

by Jim Staats | May 14, 2012

Young Nik Roby is not only a veteran of the IT field; he’s a serial achiever when it comes to industry security credentials. For him, it’s a simple case of current events and proving grounds, and one certification stands above the rest: CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP).

“I’ve taken the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) and passed, along with CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) - Security, and various other exams, but the CASP was my favorite,” said Roby, 29. “I like how it focused on modern technology. I thought it was very relevant. The fact that it focused on real life skills was very huge, not just (something) where I had to memorize a few things.”

Roby, a network engineer and instructor for cybersecurity firm KEYW Corporation, knows a thing or two about real life skills. A system administrator during his college years at the University of Maryland, Roby plied his technical skills for the U.S. Army for eight years as an information systems security officer, before moving to the private sector two years ago.

He remains a man of action, not just words.

“To me, it definitely looks like CASP is trying to compete with the skills for upper level exams requiring people to prove they have skills in modern topics and not just (the ability) to memorize,” said Roby. “(Candidates) have to know how to follow the rules of the workplace.”

The Maryland resident said he put a high value on the significant hands-on portions of the exam.

“I like how it makes you prove that you can do things and not just memorize some rules,” he said.

Roby, whose other industry certifications include CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+, said he appreciated the immediacy of topics covered in the CASP exam. Much of it, he concluded, was data that “other standardized tests can’t cover yet.”

Roby said he felt fortunate to come into the exam on the heels of previous security examinations. Even with that benefit, Roby said he was initially astonished to learn of his success in the admittedly challenging exam. He estimated that about 70 percent of the information tested as part of the CASP exam was directly applicable to his daily job duties.

Roby was so impressed with the CASP program, in fact, that he printed out and correlated his results and exam objectives to give to his supervisor, along with a copy of his certification.

“I think (CASP) is a good judge of somebody who has a pretty in-depth knowledge of networking security,” he said. “Someone who can pass this has relevant skills on modern networks and fairly decent knowledge on what topics are out there. It conveys to me that this person has a good bit of knowledge.”

When he does value words over actions, it’s a matter of speed – as in, how fast word spreads.

“I’ve mentioned to my colleagues about the exam and that I thought it was great, but it’s so new that no one heard of it,” said Roby in a sentiment that’s changing rapidly.

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