My Top 10 Tips For Preparing and Passing the CISSP Exam

Compared with most other technical certification exams, the CISSP exam is quite long. Passing the test requires not only the prerequisite knowledge to answer the questions correctly, but the stamina and mental fortitude to get through the six-hour, 250-question paper-based exam.

CertCitie's Tony Bradley nails down his Top 10 tips to passing the CISSP exam.  I've been doing most of them. 

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Security+ vs. CISSP Part 1

I took the Security+ certification test.  I didn't read any books but I did read a lot of test questions, went to a seminar sponsored by my local ISSA chapter and I've got a few years experience in all the Security+ domains.  After studying hard for a few weeks, I don't think that the test was that hard.  If I had not been prepared then I can see how it might have been difficult as there are some pretty specific questions on things I did four years ago.

The Security+ is NOTHING compared to the CISSP.  I've yet to take the actual CISSP cert test, but as I've been studying it is VERY clear that these tests are from different planets.  It is like comparing the Comptia N+ to cisco's CCNP or CCIE… o.k. maybe not CCIE, but CCNP for sure.

I've been studying to take the CISSP on and off for about a year due to a fairly full plate.  I plan on taking the test in the next few months so I've started reading up on some practice questions.  My orginal plan was to get a Security+ cert so that I could prepare for the CISSP.  As I've been reading the practice questions on CISSP I'm finding that the Security+ is simply not robust enough to even come close to helping me study for the CISSP.

Once I take the actual CISSP I'll be able to make a better assessment, though.

One of the most helpful items I found on was a Security+ cheat sheet.  It is a very concentrated view of all five security+ domains and makes for a great study reference. 


Recognize and be able to differentiate and explain the following access control models

· MAC (Mandatory Access Control)
· DAC (Discretionary Access Control)
· RBAC (Role Based Access Control)

To understand MAC, DAC and RBAC you must first understand Access Control.

Access Control is the control of user and process control access to  network and operating system resources.  For example, many spyware and adware applications not only download themselves on to your computer without your permission, but they also help themselves to your systems CPU, hard drive and memory.  What happens to most of us is that we get hit with 10 or 15 of these applications by accessing the Internet without protection.  Imagine 10 to 15 badly written memory hogs using your CPU and memory to access your cached references to your web surfing habits (or worse credit card, ssn) and send that potentially valuable information to some server in Nigeria or Russia.


Mandatory Access Control (MAC)


Mandatory Access Control is military grade security.  Like DAC, it has been around since the 60’s.  With MAC, the security on all resources are strictly policy controlled.  All processes and users (or subjects) must specifically given permission to access a resource (or object). 


Subjects are given a number indicating their level of access.  Subjects can access any object with a lower number.  With modern military and national security systems this permissions matrix is supplemented with a classification level.


Discrestionary Access Control (DAC)


Discretionary Access Control is where a subject has control over an object. In this case a “subject” could be a home user.  And lets say the home user has admin privileges because he wants to download applications like Kazaa Lite ++.  The “object” or resource is Money Quick, a financial application that creates important bank account spreadsheets. 


The home user is no fool so he locks the Money Quick application down so that only the administrator has permissions to the file.  She is the only administrator on the computer so there is no problem right?  Wrong.  With DAC any application that runs while the current user is logged on has the same permissions. 


So, the home user finds Kazaa Lite ++ on Internet and downloads it.  The shareware app is of course loaded with all kinds of spyware, adware, Trojan filth that goes directly for her Money Quick software.


Is very popular and has been in use primarily in the commercial and academic worlds since the ’60’s.


Role Based Access Control (RBAC)


Role Based Access Control is fairly new and is considered the evolution of the DAC & MAC.  With RBAC, each subject is assigned a role.  Users without roles can be put into groups that pertain to a certain department or job such as sales or management.  Objects only allow subjects on a permission basis.  Modern operating systems such as Solaris, Linux and Window 2k/XP/03 are perfect example of how Role Based Access Control works.


The RBAC started in the 1990s and fully materialized in the RBAC96.  There is currently a lot of research being done on the RBAC. 



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