Wireless training, certification grow steadily in popularity

Security is probably one of the most specialized areas for enterprise wireless LANs. Training companies are expanding their wireless offerings, emphasizing hands-on curricula, with an eye to readying attendees for one of several formal certifications.

One such company is Security University, based in Stamford, Conn. In 2001, the company began offering classes on hacking wireless networks. Now Security University offers three certification-training programs, based on the Planet3 Wireless, for wireless administration, analysis and security. Attendees take the Security University offerings, and then arrange separately to take the Planet3 Wireless certification test.

Nearly 400 network professionals took the courses last year; about 500 are expected this year, says Sondra Schneider, Security University's founder and CEO.

Security University offers five-day and seven-day programs, and an intense three-day and seven-day "bootcamps" for wireless security. The focus as been on 802.11-based WLANs, but Schneider says Security University is expanding this to cover emerging technologies such as Bluetooth and RFID.

Security University partners with various equipment vendors to offer extensive hands-on workshops for each certification. The workshops are designed to build on each other, moving students through increasing complex "what if" scenarios. The hardware labs and workshops were deliberately added to extend and complement the basic certification requirements.

Schneider says about 80% of attendees from 2003 to 2005 had little wireless experience or background. Now, only about 55% fall into that category.

"That's a big difference in two years, and it shows you how much [wireless] activity is going on," she says. "Now the attendees are more equal in base wireless knowledge, and learn more from the instructor and other attendees during the workshops."

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