CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 vs. CompTIA Security+ SY0-601

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CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 vs. CompTIA Security+ SY0-601

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Imagine waking up one day and the website or software on which all of your business activities run has been hacked down, and all of your customers can no longer access it.

Destroying things has always been an easier way to assert power than building things, so it should be no surprise that these days Cyber attacks are more common and easier than ever; much easier than protecting your cyberspace.

A cyber attack launched with less than $50 could return over $10,000 according to Deloitte, a cyber risk service company, and don’t think too far, your company would be the party paying $10,000 as you would not want your site crashed and secrets leaked.

The pay for cyber-security professionals is humongous, but the pay when cyberattacks occur is even more humongous.

Preventing cyber attacks by hiring experts may be costly, as cyber security experts earn a lot, but it is nevertheless a win-win deal for both IT professionals and companies as the companies would have to pay far more if they were to be attacked.

The best bet for anyone hoping to delve into the world of cyber security, or for companies looking to secure their systems, is, for the individual, to seek the necessary knowledge necessary for the CompTIA security+ certification (maybe by taking courses dedicated to this);  and for the company, to gather a team of in-house experts who have taken the CompTIA security+ certification too.

The certification is regarded as the first security certification any IT professional should earn. It is also preferred by more employers than any other IT certification for validating hands-on core cyber security skills as it focuses on the latest trends in risk management, risk mitigation, and threat management.

Having the globally-recognized CompTIA security+ certification certifies that you can detect threats, attacks, vulnerabilities and understand vulnerability scanning concepts and penetration testing.

Before November 2020, all you needed to do to secure a CompTIA security+ certification was to sit for the Security+ SY0-501 examination, but in November, a new version of the security+ examination, Security+ SY0-601, was introduced, and now, you have either of the two certifications to pick from until Security+ SY0-501 retires in 2021, so let’s examine them and see the key differences.


Both certifications require passing a 90-minutes-long exam and both comprise of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions.

Both certifications cost around $370 though this may vary and are available in different languages.

Exam Domains

CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 Exam Domains

Threats, Attacks and Vulnerabilities (21%)
Technologies and Tools (22%)
Architecture and Design (15%)
Identity and Access Management (16%)
Risk Management (14%)
Cryptography and PKI (12%)

CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 Exam Domains

Attacks, Threats and Vulnerabilities (24%)
Architecture and Design (21%)
Implementation (25%)
Operations and Incident Response (16%)
Governance, Risk and Compliance (14%)

Key Differences

1. The new Security+ SY0-601 covers one domain less than the SY0-501 but is nevertheless better tailored to suit the current demands of the security world better.

2. CompTIA Security+ (SY0-601) has 35 exam objectives, compared to 37 on SY0-501.

3. SY0-601 includes more examples under each objective – the number of examples increased by about 25%. This helps you understand better the meaning of each objective.

4. “Attacks, threats, and vulnerabilities” domain now takes 24% of the exam objectives, 3% more than the SY0-501 and this highlights the tailoring of the new SY0-501 to focus more on our current needs.

5. 7 in 10 business leaders feel their cyber security risks are increasing according to Accenture. To combat these emerging threats, IT pros must help identify cyber attacks and vulnerabilities to mitigate them before they infiltrate information systems, and this is what this domain focuses on.

6. The architecture and Design domain now takes 21% rather than 15% of the exam objective.

This domain focuses on maintaining a strong cyber security posture and supporting hybrid environments. It helps understand secure virtualization, secure application deployment, and automation concepts.


Cyber security challenges change day by day, and CompTIA Security+ exams adapt to the changes by constantly upgrading their exams and ensuring that only experts with the most relevant skills get certified.

Employers would, on any blessed day, go for an expert with a certification that certifies knowledge of the latest and more relevant problem-solving skills than ones with a less recent certification.

Taking the SY0-601 certification exam seems to be the better choice, as it is easier due to the reduced number of domains and more examples, and it is also better tailored to the demands of the cyber security world.

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