Professional development

Discover the top 5 information security management certifications

Infosec Institute
August 21, 2023 by
Infosec Institute

Information security management certification requires you to look at the bigger picture of risk assessment, know the latest security technologies and skills, and understand past and present cyber threats. To best gain that broad perspective and help teams perform in their roles, information security managers rely on experience and certifications in several areas of cybersecurity.

Understanding information security management certifications

Information security certifications help demonstrate knowledge and expertise to employers. These information security management certifications also require proof of job experience, so it’s an easy way for employers to validate both theoretical and practical expertise.

Certifications also help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in information security. Certification is critical in an ever-evolving field where new threats and vulnerabilities are constantly emerging. 

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Top information security management certifications

To reach the next level or stay at the top of your career in information security management, consider the following popular IS management certifications to validate your skills.

1. CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)

CISSP certification validates your knowledge in creating and managing access to information systems so you can help lead a cybersecurity program. You need to create protocols to ensure the wrong people don’t gain access to your company’s information and the right people can access that information smoothly.

CISSP certification also provides a great segue into ISSMP (Information Systems Security Management Professional) training, which helps you sharpen your security management skills, provide real-life context and help you see the bigger picture of an organization’s information security needs.

CISSP certification requires knowledge and training in the following eight domains:

  1. Security and risk management

  2. Asset security

  3. Security architecture and engineering

  4. Communication and network security

  5. Identity and access management

  6. Security assessment and testing

  7. Security operations

  8. Software development security

Information security managers typically have experience in cybersecurity. You need at least five years of practical experience in two or more of the eight domains in the (ISC)² CISSP CBK. 

After you complete CISSP training and are knowledgeable in the abovementioned areas, you’ll be prepared to take the (ISC)² CISSP certification exam. The CISSP exam typically takes around four hours to complete, comprising 125 to 175 multiple-choice questions and advanced innovative items. You need to score at least 700/1000 to pass the exam. While learning about all eight CISSP CBK domains is important, knowledge about security and risk management is weighted slightly higher than the other seven.

Enroll now: CISSP Boot Camp

2. CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)

CISM certification is great for people with practical information security experience who want to take their skills to the next level. The CISM is more management-focused than the CISSP, which covers a broader set of technical topics. The CISM builds on the risk management and security program management skills learned for CISSP and provides expertise for enterprise-level management, including skills that can help you manage teams and deal with security incidents. 

CISM certification requires knowledge and training in the following five domains: 

  1. Information security governance

  2. Enterprise governance

  3. Information security risk management

  4. Information security program development and management

  5. Information security incident management

ISACA offers CISM certification exams, which require registrants to have five years of practical work experience in information security management. However, they also accept experience waivers for a maximum of two years. 

The CISM certification exam is similar to the exam for CISSP certification. It takes roughly four hours to complete and consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. The grading for the CISM certificate is on a scored scale, meaning there’s no specific number of questions you need to answer correctly to pass. Out of a possible score of 800, you must achieve a 450 to earn your certificate, and the testing program will notify you of your score at the end of the test. Studying the above domains is crucial, but knowledge of information security program development and management is weighted slightly higher in this test.

Enroll now: CISM Boot Camp

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What should you learn next?

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3. CISA (Certified Systems Information Auditor)

If CISSP and CISM certifications focus on creating and managing programs and departments for information security, CISA training focuses more on IT and creating, managing and protecting physical systems. IT auditors are the typical target audience for the CISA certification, but it’s also useful for security managers looking to validate their understanding of controls for securing enterprise information — and how to adapt IT systems to remain guarded against evolving threats. 

CISA certification requires knowledge and training in the following five domains:

  1. Information systems auditing process

  2. Governance and management of IT

  3. Information systems acquisition, development and implementation

  4. Information systems operations and business resilience

  5. Protection of information assets

ISACA requires CISA candidates to have at least five years or more of work experience in IS or IT auditing, control, assurance or security; experience waivers are accepted for up to three years. The exam format and grading are the same as the CISM exam, except that more weight is attributed to knowledge concerning protecting information assets.

Enroll now: CISA Boot Camp

4. PMP (Project Management Professional)

In addition to specific information security management certifications, consider rounding out your skill set with general management knowledge. PMP training and certification can teach you how to manage the individual working parts of an organization’s data security efforts and keep an information security department running like a well-oiled machine. You also learn how to manage a team of cybersecurity workers and learn leadership tactics to help your employees perform efficiently and productively.

The knowledge helpful for PMI’s (Project Management Institute) PMP certification is more general and encompasses three domains:

  1. People

  2. Process

  3. Business environment

PMI requires PMP candidates to possess either a four-year degree with 36 months of work experience leading projects in the last eight years or a secondary education diploma with 60 months of work experience leading projects in the previous eight years. In addition to these requirements, candidates need at least 35 hours of project management training or CAPM® certification. While studying all three domains is important, more weight is given to the process portion of the exam.

Enroll now: PMP Boot Camp

5. CRISC (Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control)

For IT and IS professionals, CRISC certification tests your risk management skills for information systems at an enterprise level. It’s an excellent choice for information risk analysts and security managers who want to learn more in their fields. Knowing how to identify potential threats and how to respond to system attacks is an essential skill for information security managers. With a constantly evolving landscape of threats to information systems, learning standard practices and more unique approaches helps you stay on top of your organization’s information security. 

CRISC certification requires knowledge and training in the following four domains:

  1. Governance

  2. IT risk assessment

  3. Risk response and reporting

  4. Information technology and security

You can obtain CRISC certification through ISACA, which requires candidates to have three or more years of experience in IT risk management and IS control; no experience waivers are accepted. Like other ISACA information security management certifications, the exam takes roughly four hours to complete and consists of 150 multiple-choice questions with scaled grading scores. The risk response and reporting domain is weighed more than the other three, but be sure to study all before the exam.

Enroll now: CRISC Boot Camp

Choosing the right certification

If you’re ready for a managerial role in information security, you likely already have an area of focus that reflects your current job role. While higher-level information security management certifications like those mentioned above are important, other certifications that fit your passion and experience can help you on your way.

Choosing certifications that enhance and sharpen your skills is a good idea, as playing to your strengths is a positive in any profession. Also, to bolster your overall knowledge, consider some basic IT or IS management certifications in areas you know aren’t your strongest.

Which security certification should you get first?

Begin with information security certifications that cover the most common and general areas of information security; in this case, it would be the CISSP certification (or Security+ if you don’t have the experience).

Then, if you’re passionate about systems and auditing, consider the CISA. Or you can head straight to higher-level IS management certifications like the ISSMP, CISM or CRISC.

How to prepare for information security certification exams?

Training courses focused on your chosen certificate are essential, but so are mentally and physically preparing for the exams. Here are some tips to help reduce stress when it comes to exams. 

  • After completing your IT or information security management certification courses, if you haven’t already prepared with practice questions, download available practice exams or use online questions databases to prepare. They’re great for refreshing your knowledge and giving you an idea of the actual test. Don’t stress-cram for your exam the night before, as this can leave you drained.

  • Use the night before your exam to gather the materials you need for the test — rushing to collect them in the morning can lead to unneeded stress. Most certification exams require one or more forms of personal identification. In addition, make sure you have the proper equipment and essential materials.

  • Get yourself in the right mindset for test-taking the morning of your exam. Give yourself time to leisurely perform your daily routine and psych yourself up by thinking like the confident leader you’ll soon become.

  • If offered, take breaks provided during the exam. Use the restroom, drink water and try to give your brain a short break from focusing on exam questions and topics.

If you’re wondering what to expect on these certification exams, browse these exam overviews.

Here are some practice resources for the certification exams mentioned above that can help you prepare for exam day. 

What should you learn next?

What should you learn next?

From SOC Analyst to Secure Coder to Security Manager — our team of experts has 12 free training plans to help you hit your goals. Get your free copy now.

Train for a brighter career future

The best information security certifications can help you find a fulfilling position at a company you love and improve your earning potential.

Depending on where you live, a single certification like the ones covered can increase your current annual salary from $12,000 to $30,000, according to Forbes and (ISC)² studies. You broaden your skill set to enhance your hiring chances for future positions. You may also discover a career path you didn’t know about, opening new possibilities in the world of information security.

Infosec Institute
Infosec Institute

Infosec’s mission is to put people at the center of cybersecurity. We help IT and security professionals advance their careers with skills development and certifications while empowering all employees with security awareness and phishing training to stay cyber safe at work and home. More than 70% of the Fortune 500 have relied on Infosec Skills to develop their security talent, and more than 5 million learners worldwide are more cyber-resilient from Infosec IQ’s security awareness training.