It has been about 10 days since I took the CISSP exam and still I am dreaming all things security. Literally dreaming, at night while I am trying to get restful sleep. This time I dreamed up an analogy to the whole CISSP preparation and exam that I think can be appreciated and found humorous.
The CISSP exam is like studying for a certification exam on doors.
Not everyone needs to be certified. If you just merely use doors, most likely you don’t need to be certified. But if you install doors-especially unusual doors, or if you wish to design doors-especially with specific purposes in mind, you may want to prepare and pass the door exam and get door certified.
Certification has advantages. Being door certified will tell the world that you are qualified on all things related to doors-hinges, knobs, the door-y part. Just by having the certification good things can happen to you, you may have more opportunities. The certification could open many new and exciting doors.
Experience is essential. Let’s say you’ve been studying one of the bodies of concentration, the garage door domain. Well, if you have installed a garage door before then you will be able to relate and bring something experiential to the exam. If you install garage doors for a living then you probably will have no problems with this domain. If you design garage doors, their installation and write documentation and are in charge of sales, well then you can consider yourself an expert on the garage door domain and you will have very little problems with this subject on the exam. Your experience will help you with questions regarding spring sizes and radio frequencies. You should memorize sizes and frequencies, but there won’t be any questions related to that on the final exam. The question on the final exam will be something like what is the worst type of garage doors opener to use around bombs. You won’t know the answer 100%, but your experience should help you narrow it down to an educated guess.
Some questions are designed to trick you. You have to immerse yourself into the (ISC)2 world. Let’s say you get a question from the farm door domain.
The question is what color should a barn door be? You’ve narrowed the answers to “Red” and “Red & White”. Well, in reality a barn door can be whatever color the farmer wishes it to be, but you have to know what color the barn door is supposed to be in the (ISC)2 farm, er, I mean world. The question also may be negatively worded, like: The color of barn doors is essential to the function of the entire farm, not just the barn. Which of the following colors is the worst color to use on a barn door: A Red, B White, C, Black, D Brown. Of course the answer is brown. However, none of the practice tests will explain why the correct answer is most correct and the others are righter, just that D is the best answer. Shon Harris will have had a 3-minute segment on the color of barn doors which starts out, “Now, what is a barn door? We’ve talked about that before. The color of barn doors are essential to the function of the entire farm, not just the barn…” And some smart dude from India submitted the question. If he can get the color right then you should too. Duh. Moron.
Study deep. You may have a clear understanding between the different types of opaque doors used in residential, commercial, industrial and high-security settings both internal and external. You may understand the different types of glass used in internal sliding patio doors, external restaurant drive-thru doors, 1980 computer monitors, the 12-inch by 12 inch glass used in oatmeal factory doors, and the bullet-proof plastic used in jails. You may understand the purpose and the placement of the sticker that states: “THIS DOOR TO REMAIN UNLOCKED DURING BUSINESS HOURS’ and understand the history of why there was no business before the creation of the sticker. But the question on the final exam will be what is the best type of opaque material to use in airplane cockpit sliding doors while flying in areas that are highly populated with penguins. The answer will have to do with cold temperatures, the number of drinks served on a transatlantic flight and how many passengers breath through their nose. However, the answers will reflect this.
I am still waiting for the results of the exam. I feel pretty calm about it. Hopefully I got enough right to pass!