The Certified Information Security Analyst and the Certified Information Systems Auditor certifications are both valuable tools for advancing your career. CISA and CISM are two of the most important certification standards in the information security industry, so it’s essential that you understand the differences between them before you make a decision on which one to pursue first.
CISA and CISM are both performance-based certifications:
- Both primarily test your analytical skills, ability to identify an organization’s risk areas and potential for growth in the field of information security auditing or analysis.
- Both credentials require that you have at least one year of experience working in information security and pass a test with multiple sections on different topics such as auditing, risk management, computer audit review standards (CARR), control self-assessment (CSA), information security audit manual (ISAM) standards, etc.
So which certification is right for you? Here’s an in-depth look at how these two certifications compare.
The Certified Information Security Manager certification was created in 1989 as a way of certifying senior-level information security professionals with 10 years of experience. CISM is a globally recognized certification that is administered by the International Board of Standards and Practices for Information Security Management (Board). CISM holders must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and pass a thorough background check before receiving their certification.
CISM holders must recertify every three years by documenting 40 hours of continued education and submitting a re-application form. CISM certification holders are typically employed as IT Directors, Vice Presidents, or Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) in large organizations with many different departments, divisions, and subsidiaries. There are two parts to the CISM certification exam:
- Ethics and Professional Issues, and
- Information Security Management.
You must pass both parts of the exam to receive your certification.
The Certified Information Systems Auditor certification was created in 1987 to serve as a standard for auditing and analyzing the security of computer systems in businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. CISA certification is administered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). CISA holders must also adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and pass a thorough background check before receiving their certification.
CISA holders must recertify every five years by documenting 40 hours of continued education and submitting a re-application form. CISA certification holders are typically employed as Information Security Analysts (ISA) or Information Systems Auditors (ISA) in small to large organizations that require a thorough audit and analysis of information systems in order to reduce risk and comply with government regulations.
Difference between CISA and CISM
Both are valuable certifications for information security professionals, but there are some differences between the two. The differences between CISA and CISM are:
- CISM certification holders typically have more experience than CISA holders. While both certifications require one year of experience, many CISM candidates have at least 10 years of experience in the field, while CISA candidates have one year of experience in the field.
- CISM exam topics include a more in-depth look at organizational change management, business continuity management, and enterprise risk management than the CISA exam.
- CISM certification holders are generally higher-level employees than CISA holders, and many CISM candidates are employed in executive positions such as the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), or Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
- CISM certification holders have more responsibilities in an organization than CISA candidates, and they often oversee large departments that require a deep understanding of organizational change management, business continuity management, and enterprise risk management.
Key Differences Between CISM and CISA
There are some key differences between CISM and CISA that are worth noting.
- CISM certification holders are typically responsible for overseeing a large number of employees and departments within a company, whereas CISA certification holders are primarily responsible for auditing computer systems and maintaining a high level of security.
- CISM certification holders are often responsible for managing employee change requests and implementing new policies, but CISA certification holders are primarily responsible for identifying security risks, recommending changes to reduce or eliminate those risks, and creating a compliance report.
- CISM certification holders may be required to manage large budgets and work with upper management to find solutions to potential problems, but CISA candidates are primarily responsible for identifying potential problems and making recommendations to fix them.
- CISM certification holders often have the authority to enforce changes in an organization, such as creating new policies, imposing new regulations, or imposing fines, while CISA certification holders primarily report on current compliance with regulations and recommend changes to increase compliance.
Could you do CISA or CISM Certification mock exams?
While there’s no way to know for certain whether you’ll pass the CISA or CISM certification mock exams without first taking the test, you can prepare for the exam by taking practice tests, reading study guides, and taking online courses. CISM and CISA certification exams are both computer-based, so make sure you are prepared for this type of test.
You’ll also have to pay a small fee to register for the exam, and you’ll need to make sure that the date and location of your exam is convenient. CISM and CISA exam prep is important, so make sure to give yourself enough time to study, review, and practice before taking the test. You may want to consider joining a study group to help keep you accountable and on track with your studying.
The difference between the two certifications is that the CISM certification is for managers and directors who oversee information security whereas the CISA certification is for auditors who assess the security of a company’s computer systems. Both certifications require one year of experience in the field, but CISM is for professionals with 10 years of experience whereas CISA is for one year of experience.
The CISM is for management whereas the CISA certification is for auditors who assess the security of a company’s computer systems. Both certifications require one year of experience in the field but CISM is for professionals with 10 years of experience whereas CISA is for one year of experience. The CISM certification is for management whereas the CISA certification is for auditors who assess the security of a company’s computer systems.