A Guide to the Top Data Center Security Certifications

Choosing which data center security certification to pursue can be daunting. This detailed guide will help you navigate the labyrinth of security certifications available for data center pros.

Christopher Tozzi, Technology Analyst

May 13, 2024

4 Min Read
A Guide to the Top Data Center Security Certifications

There are plenty of security certifications available for the IT industry today. Most, however, focus on IT roles and functions that exist outside of data centers.

For that reason, it can prove challenging to find data center security certifications. Data center security is unique in certain respects, and if you want to advance your career in the data center industry, you need to find security certifications that address the special requirements of security inside data centers.

To that end, read on for a look at what to know about data center security certifications, along with a list of popular certifications to consider in this realm.

What Is a Data Center Security Certification?

A data center security certification is a formal credential that attests to expertise related to security within data centers.

Data center security certifications can cover various aspects of security – including securing software systems, securing operational technology, managing physical security threats, and more.

Currently, no major certifications are available that focus on data center security specifically or exclusively. However, several types of security certifications can be useful for individuals employed in the data center industry.

The Challenges of Data Center Security

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Before we dive into a comparison of top data center security certifications available today, let’s first discuss why getting certified in security for data centers can be challenging.

It’s not just that no certificate offerings focus on data centers in particular. It’s also that data center security involves many different components, including:

  • Software security: If you work in a data center, you may need to help secure software systems against risks like ransomware.

  • Physical security: Since data centers are physical locations, securing them against physical threats is also a priority.

  • Operational technology security: Modern data centers often include operational technology (OT) components, such as digital access controls. These OT assets can also be attacked via both software-based and physical attack techniques.

Most of the popular security certifications geared toward IT professionals today focus on software security. That makes sense given that most IT roles don't manage physical security or OT. But if you work in a data center, learning about software security alone isn't enough – you must also understand the complex requirements surrounding physical and OT security threats.

Data Center Cybersecurity Certifications to Consider

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Given the large attack surface that spans the physical and digital world, it makes sense to break data center security certifications into categories based on the type of security concepts they address. Here’s a look at major security certifications available in the three core areas described above.

Software Security Certifications for Data Center Professionals

To prove your mastery of software security concepts, consider the following certifications:

  • CompTIA Security+ a popular entry-level cybersecurity certification that enjoys a lot of name recognition within the IT industry.

  • CISSP an information security credential from ISC2, a non-profit focused on cybersecurity education.

  • CSF LI This certification attests to expertise in NIST’s cybersecurity framework, which is widely used as a reference for establishing cybersecurity best practices at companies around the world.

  • CEH The "Certified Ethical Hacker" certification demonstrates that you can think like a threat actor, which is valuable if part of your job is helping to protect the software assets inside data centers against attack.

Data Center Physical Security Certifications

Physical security certifications tailored toward the IT industry and data centers are not as abundant as cybersecurity certifications, but a handful of notable offerings exist:

  • PSP, or Physical Security Professional, which covers all key aspects of physical security and its role in supporting other security domains (like software security).

  • PSC, or Physical Security Certification. This certification is geared less toward the IT industry than the PSP certification and more toward defense and government security needs – but that could be a powerful characteristic if you want to show that you have a deep understanding of physical security concepts.

Operational Technology Security Certifications

Certifications devoted to OT security are also rare, and those that exist don't focus on the data center industry, or even the IT industry as a whole, in any special way. Nonetheless, there are some certifications available that cover the fundamentals of OT security from different angles:

  • GISCP, which focuses on security for industrial control systems. Not all of what you'll learn while earning this certification is applicable to data centers, but this will demonstrate a broad command of what it takes to protect operational technology in any setting.

  • ISA/IEC 62443, which also focuses on securing industrial control systems. This certification is geared toward the government sector, but it can be useful in the data center industry as well.

  • The IoT Fundamentals Certificate, which deals with internet of things (IoT) security. Not all IoT devices fall within the realm of operational technology, but some (like those that manage physical access controls or monitoring systems) do – so learning how to secure IoT devices is a step toward mastering OT security.

Advancing Your Career With Security Certifications

Becoming certified in data center security is harder than earning a security credential in other fields. You’ll likely need to pursue multiple certifications to cover all angles of data center security. But given the high priority that businesses place on securing assets inside data centers, pursuing data center security credentials is likely to be well worth the effort if you want to advance your data center career.

About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Technology Analyst, Fixate.IO

Christopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.

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