Friday, February 24, 2017

Check Point breaks silence about CCSM issues

In my two previous posts I have I have shared my views about lack of continuity with CCSM certification and some other inconsistencies.

I have also reached out to Check Point Education Services for comments.  Wednesday afternoon new certification manager Jason Tugwell called me to make some comments of the situation. Following that call, hi has sent me an official response that I am happy to share with you now. This is what he has to say:


Thank you for speaking with me yesterday.  As a recap of our phone call, I would like to respond on behalf of Education Services to the issues we have had with the CCSM.

We agree that there are 2 primary issues:
1.       The inability to renew the CCSM since there is not a R80 CCSM currently
2.       Inconsistency of CCSM certification lengths of 2 years and 4 years

Response to #1 
·         We are aware that we have not released the R80 CCSM as intended.  As we await the official release of R80.10 we are currently working on an updated CCSE for R80.10 with a CCSM to follow.  Shortly after the release of R80.10 we will be releasing a CCSM with an update plan for the CCSM community.  In the interim, we have come up with a plan that will satisfy both the need for a quality CCSE and a way to extend the CCSM certification.  To any CCSM expired or not we have extended an offer to partner with CCSMs, via our email distribution group, to participate with the R80.10 CCSE exam question development.  This is an opportunity to contribute to the CCSE exam and extend the CCSM certification for 1 year.  We believe the CCSM community can contribute to make the exam a solid product with challenging skill.  If you are a CCSM and not part of our email distribution group, contact Jason Tugwell for more information.

Response to #2
·         We have identified that there have been the errors with CCSM certification listing two different validation dates, 2 year or 4 year.  This inconsistency is still undergoing investigation, however, it appears that it was a clerical error that has affected a small percentage of the CCSM’s.  We do apologize for the error and the confusion it has generated nevertheless, going forward all CCSM certifications will be a 2-year certification as intended.  (See the Check Point Certification FAQ: All professional certifications - those taken in a proctored exam environment - are good for, or considered “Current”, for two years.)  When the investigation is concluded, we will alert the community.

Let me express my sincere apologies for any issues this has caused and my gratitude to the network of Check Point Certified professionals that are interested in maintaining their certifications.

Jason Tugwell “Tug” 

Thank you for your response, Jason. I will continue monitoring the situation and will share with the community any further development.

Friday, February 10, 2017

CCSM, more warning signs

In my previous post I have started to write about issues around CCSM certification with Check Point. As said there, if your CCSM certificate expires soon, you will not be able to renew it, as no new exam version is available yet.

Since then I have been approached by several people with questions and stories about their own CCSM certifications.

Surprisingly, I have realized there is a mess with CCSM certification period. While majority of CCSM professionals have got certificates valid for two years only, some others got four years of certification.
Here are some stories.

CCSM certification extended for two more years.

A colleague of mine passed CCSM exam in 2015. As soon as the qualification had appeared on his profile in UserCenter, he downloaded his e-certificate PDF. Earlier this year, when the company was updating its partner status, he checked his status, and UC said, his CCSM expires early February 2017. That statement was also backed up by e-certificate he downloaded again. Now, here is the twist: although e-cert downloaded in 2017 shows two years of CCSM, the older 2015 e-cert has four years. Most interestingly, his certificates have the same name and ID number, but different expiration dates. Later on, my colleague has raised a ticket with account management, and after sending them 2015 e-cert he has received two year extension.

2017 CCSM get four years

Someone who asked me not to reveal his name said he has been granted CCSM for four years at the beginning of 2017. Same situation is mentioned in the comments to the previous post by one of my readers as well.

Trying to get to the bottom

Being surprised by the inconsistencies, I have put my investigative blogger hat, trying get to the bottom of the truth. I have reached out to Shay Solomon, Director of Education Services at Check Point, asking for a clarification. Shay has answered that CCSM is valid for two years only. My next question was, how comes some people get four year of certification.

Then something strange happen. Shay has asked me to provide the names of my sources. I have made several attempts to get more specific information and then even acknowledgement of the problem's existence and Check Point plans to fix it. Instead, all I have got was "We will look into in".

So here it is, folks. Check Point not only fails to provide means to maintain CCSM status without interruption, but also cannot decide if it is valid for two or four years. The Director of Education Services says two years, but people get certificates for four.

At this point I do not know the gravity of the situation. To assess it, please let me know if your current CCSM has two or four years. Please check both your e-cert you have downloaded and UserCenter status, as they can show different things.

As the issue might be quite delicate, please do not use your real name in the comments or, alternatively, just send the info to my private email address: "varera (at) gmail dot com".

Most importantly, if your e-cert shows four years, keep it in a safe place. You may have to appeal later, if CP takes some sort of a corrective action.

I will continue writing the story as it develops.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

CCSM lacks continuity, and it is Check Point's fault

Security Master program (CCSM) is the highest certification with Check Point available today. It was introduced at the end of 2014 to replaces failing CCMA certification.

It is clear now that CCSM is also experiencing some road bumps on its way.

During the last two weeks I have received several reports from CCSM professionals about inability to extend their CCSM status.

The issue is, CCSM certification is valid for two years only. Just to remind you, CCMA privileges had four year. Many people who jumped into CCSM at the beginning of 2015 are now facing the fact their certification is about to expire. Yet, there is no way to extend it.

Yes, that is not a mistake. You cannot extend your current CCSM certification. The usual was would be to take a new CCSM exam. But here's the caveat, it is still the same CCSM exam based on R77 version. And, not surprisingly, you cannot retake the same exam twice, if you passed it the last time.

One could extent one's CCSE for a year by taking two blade exams, but there is no such an option for CCSM. Nothing can be done. You may only wait till the next version based on R80 will be out.

I have asked Check Point Educational Services to comment on this situation. This is what they say:

"CCSM certification cannot be extended until the R80.10 software, certification training course, and certification exam is released.  This is a known issue."

I personally find the situation quite unsettling. I am privileged to know personally many of Check Point Education Services team members; and trust me, those people are dedicated, intelligent and hardworking.

Why are the processes failing then? Is it something about the system itself? I can't say. Yet I find necessary to start a dialog and to discuss openly and freely good and bad of being a Check Point certified professional.

Please do not hesitate to share your opinion too.

I will continue writing about history, issues and wins of Check Point certification system in this blog. Stay tuned.