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Cisco Systems is bringing back three security specialist certifications it retired in 2008 and 2009 because, as two managers from Cisco told Channel Insider, businesses are having difficulty finding security professionals with specialized skill sets.

The three specialist certifications being reintroduced are Cisco VPN Security Specialist (retired in March 2008), Cisco Firewall Security Specialist (retired in November 2008) and Cisco IOS Security Specialist (retired in January 2009). The three were retired when Cisco changed the Advanced Security Certification so it did not require these specialities. However, since their retirements, the three security specialist certifications have become more in demand. In fact, the Cisco Firewall Specialist certification is the seventh most requested certification by employers, according to Joe Iovinelli, CEO of IT staffing firm SmartSource.

According to David Bump, security certification portfolio manager at Learning@Cisco, the three security specialist certifications had great recognition in the past, and with increasing demand for specialized security skill sets, Cisco is bringing them back. They will make their reappearance on February 2nd.

“We’ve noticed an increased demand for recognition of security professionals,” Bump said.

There’s a growing skills gaps that is making it difficult to find appropriately trained IT security professionals, said Tejas Vashi, senior manager responsible for product management for Learning@Cisco. The number of security threats affecting business continues to increase at a rapid pace, and the threats in cyberspace are evolving quicker than professionals can be trained to protect against them.

“As a result, we’ve had this increasing growth in terms of technology that is meant to support this evolution. As a result, what you’re seeing is a need to react, and therefore folks who are knowledgeable in security or have a security background are highly sought after,” Vashi said.

Additionally, the security professional’s role has changed considerably over the last decade.

Whereas an IT security professional used to manage everything related to IT security, the evolution of threats and security technology has driven the need for defined roles within the IT security realm. Now, instead of one individual managing an enterprise’s security, it’s generally an entire team.

The industry is looking for professionals who can fill specific roles instead of being generalists, Bump said.

With the re-addition of these new specialist certifications under the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) banner, the total number of CCNP specialist certifications rises to six. The other three include Cisco IPS Specialist, Cisco NAC Specialist and Cisco ASA Specialist.

The new specialist certifications draw on courses and exams that are already available to Cisco partners, so they’re available immediately. Cisco also offers professional development paths and continuing education under each of the security specializations.