Professional development

2 1/2 alternatives to the Computer Security Incident Handler (CSIH) certification

Greg Belding
June 10, 2021 by
Greg Belding

Software Engineering Institute (SEI), part of Carnegie Mellon, is going to retire the Computer Security Incident Handler certification (CSIH) this year. While it may come as a disappointment, don’t fret. There are two-and-a-half alternatives to this certification: GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH), Certified Incident Handler by EC-Council (E|CIH) and Incident Response and Network Forensics.

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CSIH certification

The CSIH certification is an incident handler and responder certification for information security professionals with one or more years of professional experience in incident handling or equivalent information security-related work experience. CSIH verifies that the certification handler has the skills to excel in incident handling for organizations as well as instructing them how to keep organizations current with the latest network security knowledge. This certification was retired on May 1, 2021, at which point SEI will no longer be issuing this certification to candidates. Also known as CERT-CSIH, current holders of this certification should know that the CSIH cert will cease being an approved DoD 8570 baseline certification. Not surprisingly, DoD no longer lists CISH as an approved certification.

With all of this said, there are four alternative certifications you can earn as a replacement for this incident handling certification that is very soon to be obsolete.


The GIAC Certified Incident Handler certification (GCIH) is a viable replacement for the CSIH certification. This certification verifies that the certification holder understands what a security incident is, and how to handle an incident once it has occurred. In other words, the holder will know how to detect, respond to and resolve information security incidents with the help of a wide range of security skills. The certification is intended for incident handlers, incident responders and a wide range of information security professionals.

The GCIH certification covers three main areas of information:

  • Incident handling and computer crime investigation
  • Computer and network hacker exploits
  • Hacker tools (Nmap, Nessus, Metasploit and Netcat)

Other certification exam information:

  • Exam questions: 150
  • Exam length: four hours
  • Minimum passing score: 73%

Infosec offers a GCIH training boot camp, more details are available here.

Certified Incident Handler (E|CIH)

Certified Incident Handler (E|CIH) is an alternative certification that is a good replacement for CSIH. Also known as E|CIH v2 as the certification exam is on its second version, this certification has a prerequisite of one year of cybersecurity experience, which is a little broader than the one year of incident handler experience that CSIH requires but it is still in the general ballpark. Another requirement to sit for the E|CIH certification exam is that you need to complete an official E|CIH course.

It should be noted that E|CIH is not a DoD 8750 baseline certification, so if you are looking for an alternative that is compliant with DoD 8750, I humbly refer you to GCIH. For roles that do not need to comply with DoD 8750 regulations, this certification is a solid alternative for CSIH.

This certification covers the following:

  • Incident handling and response
  • Forensics readiness and first response

And it covers handling and responding to the following incidents:

  • Malware
  • Email security
  • Network security
  • Web application security
  • Cloud security
  • Insider threats

Other important certification exam information:

  • Exam questions: 100
  • Exam length: three hours
  • Exam format: multiple choice
  • Passing exam score: 70%

Incident Response and Network Forensics

The Incident Response and Network Forensics training offered by Infosec is not a certification per se, it is the half in this article’s title that probably made you scratch your head. What Incident Response and Network Forensics is is an alternative to CSIH that equips those that take this training boot camp with the knowledge and skills that can help you obtain incident handling and incident response certifications as well as strong network forensics training. How it works is it builds your knowledge regarding incident response and network forensics with a combination of hands-on labs and instruction from subject matter experts. This training is intended for incident response professionals, information security professionals such as computer security incident response team members (CSIRT) and those looking to learn more about this exciting corner of information security.

To take part in this training, you will need to have one or more years of professional work experience in incident handling or the equivalent experience gained in another information security role.

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What should you learn next?

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Replacing the Computer Security Incident Handler certification

The Computer Security Incident Handler (CSIH) certification is retired as of May 1, 2021. If this seems like a monkey wrench in your plans, don’t fret; there are two-and-a-half solid alternatives to CSIH that will close the certification gap that this soon-to-be-retired certification formerly filled. If you need an alternative certification that satisfies DoD 8750, GCIH is going to be the alternative to CSIH for you.



Incident Response and Network Forensics, Infosec Institute 

EC-Council Certified Incident Handler, EC-Council 

GCIH Certification, GIAC

Greg Belding
Greg Belding

Greg is a Veteran IT Professional working in the Healthcare field. He enjoys Information Security, creating Information Defensive Strategy, and writing – both as a Cybersecurity Blogger as well as for fun.