Predictions for Microsoft security exams

Between Bill Gates' executive e-mail (Microsoft Progress Support: Security) and an upcoming 20-city, two-month security training blitz, Microsoft has clearly sharpened

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its focus on security. This security focus is interesting on a number of fronts that relate to certification.

For one thing, Gates talks about big changes to Windows XP in the wake of the forthcoming Service Pack 2 (SP2), which replaces older, more optimistic security defaults with newer, more restrictive ones.

Windows XP SP2 also includes numerous nice-sounding security enhancements. These include security status monitoring using a new Security Center item in Control Panel to survey and report on security software status, including updates, patches, anti-virus and firewalls. There is also a new dynamic system protection feature that will automatically lock down a machine when it senses a less-secure connection (like DSL or a hotel network) and open itself up when it senses a more-secure connection (like a well-protected corporate network). I predict both of these will results in a refresh to security and XP related MCP exams (without making my crystal ball even break into a sweat).

Likewise, Gates' comments about a new version of the Internet Security and Acceleration Server (ISA Server 2004) tells me that it will be no big stretch to soon see a successor to exam 70-227, which covers ISA Server 2000. A natural extension to this vision would be a requirement that this new exam replace exam 70-227 as the security specialization slot for MCSA: Security and MCSE: Security for Windows Server 2003.

Finally, with all kinds of security enhancements planned for rollback into Windows Server 2003 and other 2003/2004 server platforms, it's also not unreasonable to expect certification exam refreshes that incorporate these capabilities or focus more exclusively on them. At a minimum, I'd expect exams 70-298 and 70-299 to be affected, and possibly to see SQL Server, Exchange Server and SMS related exams refreshed as well.

This should make for some interesting Microsoft watching over the next six months or so. Please stay tuned for less speculative news on these topics as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you can't go sit in front of a Microsoft trainer to get up to speed on security, you will find most of the same information available online for your perusal at Microsoft's newly launched Security Guidance center. Be sure to check it out at http://www.microsoft.com/seminar/securitysummit/default.mspx.

Ed Tittel is a long-time certification follower. He's series editor for Exam Cram 2, a popular assembly of cert prep books from Que Publishing, and a contributing editor for Certification Magazine. He also covers certification topics for InformIT.com, and numerous other TechTarget Web sites.

This was first published in April 2004

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