Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Training in Information Security Needed to Improve Security Landscape

According to a November 2010 CompTIA report, more companies rate information security as a high priority in 2010 than did in 2008, and the number is expected to keep rising. The new report shows that, in 2008, 35% of organizations named information security a high priority. In 2010, that number was 49%, and it is projected to be 62% in 2012.

While many organizations rate security as a top concern, many of those organizations also struggle keeping up with the new threats and vulnerabilities that, in many cases, are more severe than they used to be. According to CompTIA, those new vulnerabilities include social media attacks, cloud computing security, phishing, and security in mobile environments.

As companies and organizations grapple with the challenge of keeping their systems secure, they are “updating security policies, investing in better technology and expanding training,” CompTIA says. Respondents in the CompTIA study say the “security landscape is improving due to better technology (55 percent), improving IT staff expertise (41 percent), improving security policies and procedures (36 percent) and better end user training (33 percent).”

As you see, a large part of the information security battle deals with training IT workers to prevent and combat security breaches. Understanding the security procedures to set in place for an organization helps prevent many of the attacks to the organization’s systems. Training and education also prepare IT workers to respond to attacks as quickly and harmlessly as possible.

TestOut offers training in information security that will bring every IT professional up to speed on the most current information security topics and procedures. LabSim training courses cover Security+ from CompTIA, SSCP (Systems Security Certified Practitioner) and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) from (ISC)2 , offering IT students and professionals the knowledge and hands-on experience needed to meet the demand for trained information security workers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Certify Now Before CompTIA Policy Changes

You’ve probably heard that after December 31, 2010, CompTIA will no longer offer lifetime certification for A+, Network+, and Security+. The organization from which CompTIA receives accreditation for its certifications is requiring that CompTIA change its policy about the length of time certifications remain valid.

Beginning January 1, 2011, three CompTIA certifications often achieved by IT students, including A+, Network+, and Security+, will be affected by the new Certification Renewal Policy. Under the new policy, the certifications will remain valid for three years instead of for a lifetime. After three years, individuals must either take and pass the updated certification exam or participate in CompTIA’s continuing education program to show that their skills are up to date.

The Better Option for You: Certify Now

While CompTIA certifications will still be valuable for you after the policy changes, wouldn’t it be better to get your certification now and keep it for life? Most of us would prefer to take the certification exam once and avoid having to complete continuing education activities to keep it valid.

Several IT instructors whose students train with LabSim courses have told us that many of their students have decided to complete certification before Christmas this year, and that the change in CompTIA’s policy has been an incentive for those students to certify before the change takes effect.

Students completing LabSim training for A+, Network+, or Security+, now is the time to call the testing center and make your appointment to take the certification exam! With LabSim training available to you, you have the resources to prepare yourself fully to pass the certification exam.

We hope you’ll take this important step for your IT career and complete A+, Network+, or Security+ certification before the end of the year. Best of luck!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Growth Continues in Online Higher Education

In January of this year I wrote about the Sloan Consortium’s report on online education and the staggering 17% increase in online college and university courses since the previous year. Well, that number has been beat. This week, the report was published with results from the same annual survey, nearly a year later, and colleges reported an even higher increase in online enrollment—21% more online students in 2010 than in 2009. The total number of higher education students taking at least one course online in the 2010 fall semester is 5.6 million.

The report—“Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010”—provides data based on responses from 2500 colleges and universities. The report compares the data from public non-profit institutions, private non-profit institutions, and private for-profit institutions, showing differences in strategy and priority. The report addresses the following questions:
  • Is online learning strategic? (63% of institutions said yes; for-profit institutions were most likely to include online learning as part of their strategic plan.)
  • How many students are learning online? (30% of higher ed students are taking at least one course online.)
  • Are learning outcomes comparable to face-to-face? (76% of public institutions rate online education as the same as or superior to face-to-face instruction, 67% of for-profits, and 55% of private non-profits.)
  • What is the impact of the economy on online education? (See below.)
  • How do higher education institutions feel about proposed federal regulations on financial aid? (Fewer than 9% of academic leaders believe that using a debt-to-earnings ratio is a good measure of whether a school’s training leads to gainful employment.)
  • What is the future for online enrollment growth? (Most institutions report they are still growing; some report steady enrollments.)

Three-quarters of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for online courses and programs, while nearly one-half of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for face-to-face courses and programs.

Why do you think demand for online courses is greater than the demand for face-to-face instruction in an economic downturn?

Further, the report states that almost all recent growth in online enrollments has come from the growth of existing offerings, not from institutions new to offering courses online.

Many of the institutions who utilize LabSim certification training offer LabSim as the curriculum in online IT courses. For those of you who teach those online courses using LabSim, how has LabSim allowed you to meet the demand for online course offerings?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

19 Years! Happy Birthday, TestOut.

Today TestOut celebrates 19 years as a company. Not many IT certification training providers have been doing what they’re doing as long as TestOut, and it shows in the quality of TestOut’s LabSim training courses and the support TestOut provides to LabSim users.

Today, TestOut CEO Noel Vallejo shared his gratitude for the opportunity TestOut has had to develop LabSim courses and provide training to so many people. Vallejo also expressed gratitude that the company has been able to provide a living for so many people for 19 years.

“I am grateful to be associated with such smart, talented people,” Vallejo said. “In our 19-year history, there have been some difficult times. But although there have been some painful growing experiences, we’ve had far more positive experiences together and that is why we are so strong today.

“There is no greater reward than to associate with all of you. I am thankful for the success we enjoy and look forward to greater success in the future.”

TestOut celebrated its 19th birthday with a company lunch and birthday cake. Enjoy some photos of TestOut’s 19th birthday party!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nominate a Former Student for the 2011 GREAT Awards

LabSim instructors at private sector colleges and universities, have you recently had an IT student who really stands out to you for his or her excellence? Someone who beat the odds and overcame obstacles to succeed in an IT education and then career? Now is the time you can give that former student some much-deserved recognition.

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities sponsors the 2011 GREAT Awards that honor recent graduates of career education who have achieved success in spite of significant difficulty. Winning students (5 last year) are given an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill before members of Congress.

As you think of the students in your classes over the past several years, some students probably stand out in your mind as those who excelled above others in IT training. Did their work ethic set them apart? You can probably also think of students who have gone on to find success in their IT career. But as you think about your past students, those who have achieved both successes in the face of difficult circumstances stand apart from the rest. Perhaps the student you’re thinking of struggles daily with a physical disability that made their education difficult. Perhaps the student supported a family while working and going to college. Whatever the circumstance, the academic and career achievements of your former student may be recognized through the GREAT Awards.

Please take a few minutes to nominate the student or students you’re thinking of by completing the GREAT Awards nomination form before December 31, 2010.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why A+ and Network+ Should Matter to You

Still looking for a good reason to get an IT certification this year? Network World’s Elsa Wenzel reported this week that, according to CompTIA, 68 percent of IT hiring managers regard IT certifications as a medium or high priority as they consider job candidates. A candidate certified in A+ or Network+ will earn 10% more on average than a candidate without certification, and a candidate with a higher-level certification may expect a 40% higher salary than a candidate without.

CompTIA certifications like A+ and Network+ are so highly valued because they show you have a broad base of fundamental skills. A+ certification, for example, demonstrates that you are competent installing Windows as well as installing motherboard components; configuring operating systems as well as configuring wireless networks; and troubleshooting power devices and printers. Managers can place greater trust in an IT employee with A+ certification combined with hands-on experience.

, another entry-level certification, shows employers that you have a fundamental understanding of computer networks and a proven base of skills working with networking components. An employee with Network+ certification will be confident implementing network wires, connecting network devices, configuring DNS addresses, securing network switches, configuring routing, and troubleshooting network communications.

In her article, Wenzel gives specific advice to hiring managers as well: “Don't take someone's experience, training, and certification at face value,” she wrote. “Ask what they had to do to get a certification. Hands-on lab work in addition to an exam is a good sign.”

If you need a competitive advantage in your job search, and if you would appreciate a higher salary, make it a priority to start training with a LabSim course as soon as possible, gain hands-on experience for your field, and complete your certification as soon as possible.

Emily Howard, TestOut