CompTIA Security+ (SY0-601) – a review of the course materials

If you’re not familiar with CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) yet, it’s one of the IT industry’s top trade association. Its members encompass large software and hardware vendors as well as small and medium companies, freelancers, instructors, as well as universities.

CompTIA is primarily known for the trainings and associated certifications it is offering. Incidentally, the first industry IT training I was delivering, back in 1999 or early 2000, was a preparatory class for CompTIA’s A+ certfication. It was a great training for a beginning instructor to deliver, as the contents were quite basic, so I could fully concentrate on the delivery aspects.

Currently, the most widely sought-after certifications CompTIA is offering are in the field of information security. CompTIA’s Security+ certification (exam code SY0-601 in the current version as of January 2021), is considered to be an ideal certification for beginners, before moving on to more challenging certifications. An overview of the certification can be found at CompTIA’s official website, practice questions and exam objectives can be requested here.

As part of our university’s membership in CompTIA’s academic program, I reviewed the official training materials to evaluate their suitability as part of a practice-oriented lab course in our Bachelor of Science program for Information Security and Data Privacy at Ansbach University of Applied Sciences.

CompTIA provides high-quality slides as part of the instructor materials for its Security+ (SY0-601) certification

The course materials are provided in ebook form with approximately 700 pages of densely-packed contents, intended to be delivered as a five-day industry training. The class also comprises 32 lab exercises that complement the theoretical aspects nicely.

Here’s the overview of the chapters as they are recommended to be delivered over five days (“Close” indicates the end of a training day in the schedule).

01A Compare and Contrast Information Security Roles
01B Compare and Contrast Security Control and Framework Types
02A Explain Threat Actor Types and Attack Vectors
02B Explain Threat Intelligence Sources
03A Assess Organizational Security with Network Reconnaissance Tools
03B Explain Security Concerns with General Vulnerability Types
03C Summarize Vulnerability Scanning Techniques
03D Explain Penetration Testing Concepts
04A Compare and Contrast Social Engineering Techniques
04B Analyze Indicators of Malware-based Attacks
05A Compare and Contrast Cryptographic Ciphers
05B Summarize Cryptographic Modes of Operation
05C Summarize Cryptographic Use Cases and Weaknesses
05D Summarize Other Cryptographic Technologies
06A Implement Certificates and Certificate Authorities
06B Implement PKI Management
07A Summarize Authentication Design Concepts
07B Implement Knowledge-based Authentication
07C Implement Authentication Technologies
07D Summarize Biometrics Authentication Concepts
08A Implement Identity and Account Types
08B Implement Account Policies
08C Implement Authorization Solutions
08D Explain the Importance of Personnel Policies
09A Implement Secure Network Designs
09B Implement Secure Switching and Routing
09C Implement Secure Wireless Infrastructure
09D Implement Load Balancers
10A Implement Firewalls and Proxy Servers
10B Implement Network Security Monitoring
10C Summarize the Use of SIEM
11A Implement Secure Network Operations Protocols
11B Implement Secure Application Protocols
11C Implement Secure Remote Access Protocols
12A Implement Secure Firmware
12B Implement Endpoint Security
12C Explain Embedded System Security Implications
13A Implement Mobile Device Management
13B Implement Secure Mobile Device Connections
14A Analyze Indicators of Application Attacks
14B Analyze Indicators of Web Application Attacks
14C Summarize Secure Coding Practices
14D Implement Secure Script Environments
14E Summarize Deployment and Automation Concepts
15A Summarize Secure Cloud and Virtualization Services
15B Apply Cloud Security Solutions
15C Summarize Infrastructure as Code Concepts
16A Explain Privacy and Data Sensitivity Concepts
16B Explain Privacy and Data Protection Controls
17A Summarize Incident Response Procedures
17B Utilize Appropriate Data Sources for Incident Response
17C Apply Mitigation Controls
18A Explain Key Aspects of Digital Forensics Documentation
18B Explain Key Aspects of Digital Forensics Evidence Acquisition
19A Explain Risk Management Processes and Concepts
19B Explain Business Impact Analysis Concepts
20A Implement Redundancy Strategies
20B Implement Backup Strategies
20C Implement Cybersecurity Resiliency Strategies
21A Explain the Importance of Physical Site Controls
21B Explain the Importance of Physical Host Security Controls


The quality of the training materials: definitely great

 Looking at the contents of the instructor/student materials, it is apparent that CompTIA’s authors have invested quite some time and effort into developing these. The course is well-rounded in itself and does a great job of covering all the basics of information security. For students that need more introductory materials in fundamental areas like Linux or networking, CompTIA is offering separate courses and certifications like A+, Linux+, or Network+.

The training materials are well written and follow a clear didactical outline and comprise more than the fundamental aspects of information security. Anyone thoroughly studying the course and preparing for the associated certification is well set up to continue their learning journey with more challenging aspects of IT security. CompTIA also offers advanced cybersecurity courses and certifcations like the CySA+, PenTest+, or CASP+. 

CompTIA’s Security+: a great introductory course for infosec beginners

In short, CompTIA did a great job with its Security+ training. It’s a comprehensive and well-planned course, suitable both for adoption in a commercial as well as applied academic context. If you’re considering adopting it, reach out to one of many training partners. If you intend to become a commercial or academic training partner, Christina Allmeroth from CompTIA Germany is more than happy to advise.


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