What is the Certified Wireless Security Professional?

C. Mitchell

A certified wireless security professional, or CWSP, is a person who is recognized as an expert when it comes to making sure that wireless Internet and telephone networks are protected from security threats. The title “Certified Wireless Security Professional” is an internationally recognized professional certification, and the standards and requirements for achieving it are universal. To earn the certification, applicants must complete a series of mandatory training, and must pass a wireless security exam. Certified wireless security professionals provide essential services to businesses and network administrators to ensure the safety and security of their wireless networks.

The kind of security that a wireless network needs depends on the intended use of the network.
The kind of security that a wireless network needs depends on the intended use of the network.

Wireless networks are in many ways extremely convenient. Users can be online from anywhere without having to plug in, and connectivity follows users within the network’s range. This convenience comes at a price, however. Taking the network outside the confines of the wired world means that it is easier for the people inside to access it, but the same is true for people outside. Wireless networks are, generally speaking, much easier to hack into, piggyback onto, or pluck information from than wired networks are.

Wireless security professionals can install software that discourages hacking.
Wireless security professionals can install software that discourages hacking.

A certified wireless security professional will often find work advising a business on how to set up and monitor in-house wireless networks. The CWSP will evaluate the business’ wireless networking structure, and adapt it to prevent vulnerabilities and reduce risk. Advising the businesses on ways to maintain its networks and monitor abuses is also usually part of the job.

Certified wireless security professionals also work with telecommunications companies and wireless service providers to ensure that the networks themselves are protected from vulnerabilities. If a network is strong before it begins being used, the chances of security problem are often lower. All wireless networks are subject to security concerns, but a network with protections is in a better position to fend off attacks.

The kind of security a wireless network needs depends in large part on the intended use of the network. Personal wireless Internet connections typically only need a password to secure their contents, which does not require the services of a certified wireless security professional. Networks that cover entire companies, or phone networks that cover huge swaths of land, are more at risk of infiltration, and are what CWSPs are trained to work with. A corporate Internet system that is hacked can lead to significant loss of assets, trade secrets, and time. Cellular data networks that fail or are taken down can lead to major municipal disruptions.

The job of the certified wireless security professional is an important and complex one. Intense training is required. At the culmination of that training, the professional must pass a standardized CWSP exam in order to be certified. CWSP certification is one of many forms of information technology qualifications that most wireless professionals hold. It is considered an advanced level certification because it typically adds to other certifications that a professional holds, such as the Certified Network Service Administrator certification. CWSP certification must be renewed approximately every three years, which ensures that all professionals are up to speed with the very latest developments in wireless technology and the threats that face it.

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