CISSP – Study Material

I found it tough to decide which study books to use when preparing for the CISSP exam, I ended up buying 4 books in the end so here I will tell you what I thought of them all in the hope that it will help you decide which books to buy too.

The first book I bought was the CISSP All-in-One Certification Exam Guide by Shon Harris. This book is heralded as the number one study tool for the CISSP exam and on the front cover it has the bold statement “All-in-One is All You Need”. The book is full of great information and does cover all areas needed to pass the exam. It is packed with good information and examples and has practice questions at the end of each chapter to help you gauge you knowledge on the domain covered by the chapter. To begin with I started to try and read this book cover to cover and could not get in to it at all. Personally I found the writing style to be distracting and the content seemed to be a little long winded, I found my mind would often wander while reading this book so I took a different approach. I did the practice questions at the end of each exam then found the relevant sections for each question I got wrong and read them. This cut down the amount I had to read from this book massively and made it more bearable.

I then decided to get two more books seeing as I had plenty of time to study. I bought the Official (ISC)2 Guide to the CISSP CBK by Harold Tipton and Kevin Henry. This is a fantastic book crammed with information and no filler. It is both good for preparing for the exam and for reference later on. At over a thousand pages this is not light reading at all, the text is very dry and factual but very clearly laid out with lots of end notes, references and sample questions. This book was money well spent and I am sure I will use it for a long time to come.

The other book I bought was the CISSP Study Guide 4th edition written by James Michael Stewart, Ed Tittel and Mike Chappel published by Sybex. I found this to be the most useful book of all while studying for the exam, unlike the others, this book is broken down in to 19 chapters making the whole thing seem more manageable. I read this book cover to cover and found it to be very easy to understand, well presented and broken down in to many bite size sections covering and explaining the material very well. Again each chapter has practice questions which are great to check how much of the material has been understood and committed to memory.

In the end I used the CISSP Study Guide by Sybex for most of my preparation and used the Official (ISC)2 Guide to the CISSP exam for further reading on subjects I needed to gain a clearer understanding of. I found it to be an effective method and would encourage this to others.

One other book that I feel I must mention is Security Engineering, _a guide to building dependable distributed systems _written by Ross Anderson, although this book is not aimed at all towards the CISSP exam, it is an excellent book on computer security and really helped me understand many security issues.

I also used the internet extensively to research the subjects covered in the exam using mainly Wikipedia, SANS and NIST publications to give me a deeper understanding on many subjects.

If you were to buy only one book to get you started, I would have to recommend the CISSP Study Guide by Sybex.

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