Expected difference between CompTIA Security+ SY0-401 and SY0-501?

How to qualify a guess this far out

So how different should we expect the new Security+ SY0-501 to be compared to the current SY0-401? We expect it to release in October of 2017. Because this is early speculation there is no hard data to fall back on but we can probably glean some guidance from History. Last year’s release of the new Network+ exam objectives was a very significant event. The then new (July 2015) official exam objectives went from 24 to 33 pages! Obviously CompTIA thought a lot was missing in the old version… Cyber security advances have been no less significant over the last few years than the development of new technologies in computer networking. The themes added to the Network objectives can certainly offer some guidance. A+ has also recently seen new objectives (December 2015) and although A+ will be less useful in terms of divining the Security+ SY0-501 exam objectives, some of the new topics may apply to Security+.

The (very) broad brush

Given that Security+ is a mile wide and about an inch deep we indeed need a very broad brush. Understanding that we are by force speculating (we make no representation as to the accuracy of our guesses) but here goes anyways… Obviously the new material in CompTIA’s Certification Exam Objectives for Security+ SY0-501 will aim at reflecting technologies used today that were not included in the objectives 3 years ago.
We expect the following to either see an enhanced focus or outright be added to the new Security+ SY0-501 exam objectives:

– Technologies that support cloud and technologies with an emphasis on cloud security
– Expansion of Virtualization and how to secure it
– Mobile device security and breach of
– Securing cart technology and payment systems
– More on monitoring tools and analysis of metrics obtained from monitoring and tracking tools
– Deepening of the understanding of network access control models
– Side loaded applications and management of the process
– Verification and validation of side loaded applications
– Possibly addition of Samsung, LG and/or other manufacturer specific issues

We also expect greater emphasis will be put on practical knowledge, this has been a trend at all the . These are the sub objectives that will start with “Given a scenario…” Today there are 12 of those sub-objectives in Security+ SY0-401, expect that number to grow. We are going to put our neck out and forecast that the new number will be somewhere between 18 and 22. Examples of that kind of objectives could be “practical approaches to troubleshooting” or “resolving various security issues” etc.

Should I take the Security+ SY0-401 now or wait for the SY0-501 exam?

The short answer is of course that you should take the version available at the time you need to be certified. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out! However there are other considerations too. One is that although the “latest and greatest” always has its appeal, when it comes to CompTIA certification your certification is valid for three years from the date you pass the exam. It doesn’t matter if that date happens to be one day before the retirement date of the exam, you are still certified for three years no matter what. The other consideration is always a tendency to prefer “the devil we know”. There is predictability in committing to Security+ SY0-401 that the SY0-501 objectives can’t offer just yet. It seems pretty certain that if you are planning on getting certified in 2016 and even into spring of 2017 you will have to pick the current version.

CompTIA Security+ Practice Test

CertBlaster offers practice tests for Security+ SY0-401. The product includes 500 questions including what CompTIA refers to as the Performance Based Question (PBQ). Below is a screenshot of an important Performance Based Question type that you will face at the Security+ exam. This type of question puts you in a situation where you have been hacked, you get to see the script used and from analyzing that script you will be asked to figure out what server is under attack, by what type of attack and you will be asked to enunciate the best defense against that attack.


Performance Based Question Security+ SY0-401 Practice Test
Example of Performance Based Question in CertBlaster Security+ Practice Test



What do you think we should expect? Share your views and ideas by entering your comment below!

2 thoughts on “Expected difference between CompTIA Security plus SY0-401 and SY0-501?

    1. Hi Roger, we are expecting Security+ SY0-501 by next summer wuith a “garce period” for SY0-401 till the end of December 2017.

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