Announcing a New Certification Resource: Skillset Facebook Groups!

We’re big on practice questions at Skillset. That’s why each of our certification practice tests has several thousand questions within it: Because practice, you may have heard, makes perfect.

But if there’s one thing we’re as enthusiastic about as practice questions, it’s discussion, feedback, and back-and-forth learning. The topic we spend the most time on, beyond writing more questions, is how to give our users more options to connect with one another, provide insights and feedback, and learn from one another.

That’s exactly why we’ve created a series of Facebook Groups specifically designed to provide motivation and discussion around certification.

For every certification practice test we provide on Skillset, we’ve created a group (and we’ll keep adding them as we add certification tests). And in each group, we’ll post one question every day. The objective being: Find your daily motivation, learn something new, and find a resource and a community to rally around as you prepare for your own big test (or as you simply stay fresh and knowledgable).

Check out (and join!) each of our groups as they relate to specific tests:

Let us know what you think, and keep an eye out for our first questions, coming up today — and every day — for you to pick over and discuss.

Happy testing!


Why IT Pros Lie: A Certification Doesn’t Always Make You Qualified for a Job (And That’s Okay!)

It’s the most open dirty little secret in Information Technology hiring today: the lies we tell to get our foot in the door.

To be sure, they are white lies, subtly bolstering our appeal to hiring managers by insinuating greater experience or a more narrow focus than we might actually have had with a specific project or technology. A couple weeks watching SQL logs while the DBA was on vacation might turn you into a database administrator; fiddling with widget on the company home page means you have experience with JavaScript.

Have you every started an IT job where you knew everything you needed to know the minute you walked in the door? Few people have. Information Technology is a vast and ever-changing field, with many silos of knowledge and few systems which can be relied upon to operate identically from organization to organization. Learning the quirks and foibles of a particular combination of software versions and hardware systems is a skill in and of itself. It is not one that can be easily tested in a lab environment.

Of course, these lies are provoked in some sense by the lies we’re told in the job postings themselves: requests for expertise in wildly disparate technologies which no sane person could specialize in simultaneously, or demands for years of experience with technologies which have only emerged months earlier. The bill of goods that job candidates are selling is matched, in some sense, by the goods that employers claim they are looking for.

Why You Need a Security+ Certification in 2015

In the Information Technology (IT) industry, acquiring certifications in certain disciplines is just as essential as acquiring a traditional degree.

There are numerous benefits that come from acquiring an IT certification, so whether you are an active or aspiring IT professional, it would behoove you to consider what IT certifications are available and what they can do for you. There are many different types of certifications depending on what type of IT professional you aspire to be. Choosing the right certifications is essential to furthering your career as a professional. One example of an IT certification that can allow you to further your career immediately is the Security+ certification.

Security+ (pronounced “Security-Plus”) is a certification provided by CompTIA which designates that a professional is knowledgeable in the field of security, which is becoming one of the fastest growing fields in the IT sector. This is a certification that you should update every three years through CompTIA in order to make sure that you are on the cutting edge of security technology.

Some of the most relevant job titles for this certification include IA Technician, IA Manager, Network Administrator, Security Consultant and Security Engineer. The CompTIA Security+ certification has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Defense, Hitachi Information Systems, CSC, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman as the ideal way to indicate that a professional is apt in the right areas of security IT.

Does Technology Actually Make Education Better? Hot EdTech Links for April

A good craftsman never blames his tools.

It’s an idiom that’s been around for as long as any of us can remember. Less commonly known is that the saying originated in a more negative light: A bad craftsman always blames his tools.

In either case, the true message is more subtle, and more powerful: The tools we use do not make (or break) the finished product, nor do they define our performance. It’s only how we use them that truly makes a difference. And defining the “how” involves planning, thoughtfulness, careful attention, and adjusting for inevitable setbacks and changes along the way.

This is becoming more true, not less, as technology continues to saturate every aspect of our lives, including education.

Some of this technology is incredibly powerful, like apps that allow students to examine, interact with, and truly explore subjects and stories — galaxies and physics experiments. Other types are simply about efficiency, like testing software. But no matter what the technology is, it’s not going to do the teaching for teachers — and it’s not going to do the learning for students. The other age-old saying that a student is only as good as his teacher remains more true now than ever.

That’s what Peg Tyre is arguing in her much-discussed post from earlier this month, non-subtly titled “iPad < Teacher,” in which she declares that too much attention is being given to EdTech, and not enough to the teachers who need to wield it. Technology is great, and it is undoubtedly transforming education, but only teachers, as it ever has been, can truly make the difference.

Speaking of making differences, here are the best EdTech links this month, all about using education technology in various fields:


  • In Part 8 of his STEM education resources series, Michael Gorman put together an unbelievable list of 80 sites, apps, and resources for STEM learning.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Ed Tech Teacher has a nice note about teaching visual learning with the Canva design school.
  • We’re all about personalized learning here at Skillset, so Renee Hill’s excellent EdSurge article about socially engaged contributors being key to the personalized learning process really struck a chord.
  • Richard Byrne always has simple, helpful tips for using technology in the classroom, and this week he recommends moving the classic “letter to myself 10 years later” assignment to a blog — a simple, technology-forward spin on a teacher favorite that will probably increase both engagement and eventual delivery of those letters to students 10 years down the road.
  • Hands-on learning usually means exactly that: Getting your hands dirty with real-life projects. But that doesn’t mean that technology or virtualization can’t play a role. Caitlin McLemore gives the broad strokes about how to enhance hands-on education with technology.
  • And in a post aptly named “Beyond Earth Day,” EdTech Ideas used this week’s celebration of Earth Day publish a handy checklist (and a rundown of quick ideas) for students to use both on the holiday and at any point in the future to help think more deeply and long-term about their environmental impact.

An Update on Our Computer Forensics Blog Contest

A link to for IT career planningLast week, we set out on a quest to find the best computer forensics investigation blogs for 2015. We scoured the internet, social media, and Reddit; we asked our friends, our mentors, and our mothers.

We used any resources we could find, and came up with a list of nine particularly excellent InfoSec blogs that focus exclusively (or at least primarily) on computer forensics and investigations.

But we want to go beyond making a list. We want to find the best. forensics blog. ever.

The problem with coming up with “the best,” of course, is that the definition of the best differs from person to person. We could have gone a numbers of ways, but ultimately, we settled on a fairly simple definition: The best blog is the blog that the people say is best.

The people. That’s you!

So we set up a poll and invited you to vote on your favorite — for whatever reason you saw fit: Post quality, humor, personality, novelty. Whatever you like.

Mildly surprisingly, the “biggest” blog is not the front runner in the votes so far. Nor is it a blog that posts every day. Those are definitely two things that might bias the results in a blogs favor for no other reason. But in fact, the current frontrunner is a blog that publishes just once a month and has no affiliation with a professional organization of any kind.

The leader is a personality-driven blog by a much-celebrated InfoSec thought leader: Zeno’s Month.

Zeno’s Month is written by Zeno Geradts, a popular forensics thinker, speaker, and writer who provides a short and link-filled monthly update about the things he’s learned, done, or is interested in.

As a seasoned blogger, it’s not surprising to me that the most popular pick is a personal blog by an accessible expert offering their unique perspective. Even though every single website on the planet has a blog now, personal thoughts by knowledgeable people is what started the blogging revolution, and it’s what still drives much of the interest today.

But don’t get to comfortable, Zeno. You’re officially ahead of some pretty heavy hitters, including the SANS Blog and Forensic Control. Those are pros who aren’t going to let themselves fall behind for long.

Agree? Disagree? There is still time to vote. Tell us your favorite computer forensics investigation blog right now!