Choosing the Right CompTIA Security+ Certification: What’s new in SY0-701?

As you embark on the path to bolstering your cybersecurity skills through obtaining certifications, choosing between the CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 and SY0-701 exams can be a pivotal decision in your professional development. Both exams serve as a gateway to demonstrating your cybersecurity expertise but differ in their focus and the recency of the content they cover. The SY0-601, with its established presence, offers a broad foundation in cybersecurity principles, while the SY0-701 introduces updated content and new domains to reflect the most recent trends within the field. This guide is designed to walk you through the updates and new emphases of the SY0-701 exam, offering a detailed comparison to its predecessor, the SY0-601. It centers on the enhancements and newly introduced domains in the SY0-701, providing a clear view of how the exam has evolved to address the latest developments in cybersecurity. With a focus on the SY0-701, you’ll gain insights into what’s new, what’s been refined, and how these changes can influence your decision-making process regarding certification.

Core Differences and Updates:

The update from SY0-601 to SY0-701 reflects CompTIA’s response to the cybersecurity field’s dynamic nature, incorporating emerging threats, technologies, and best practices. Notably, the SY0-701 exam emphasizes a prerequisite recommendation of having a Network+ certification and two years in a security/systems administrator role, signaling a shift towards a more experienced audience.

The essence of the exams—cost, duration, question format, and certification validity—remains unchanged, ensuring a degree of continuity. However, subtle adjustments in the exam blueprint, such as the omission of the exact passing score in initial SY0-701 documentation, hint at procedural refinements. This discrepancy, potentially indicative of a new grading approach, underscores the importance of scrutinizing exam specifics.

SYO-701’s Key Structural Changes

The new CompTIA Security+ SY0-701 domains have been structured to align more closely with the evolving landscape of cybersecurity, offering a fresh perspective on essential concepts and practices. Below is a rephrased summary of each domain:

  1. Foundational Security Principles (12%): This segment lays the groundwork for understanding key security principles, highlighting the crucial CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability) triad. It delves into different security control types, such as preventive, deterrent, and corrective measures, while also introducing the concept of Zero Trust architecture as a foundational security model.
  2. Analyzing Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Countermeasures (22%): In this domain, the focus shifts to the identification and comprehension of typical threat actors, including their motives, whether they’re nation-states or hacktivists. It explores various channels through which threats can materialize, including email, SMS, and software vulnerabilities, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and mitigating these threats.
  3. Principles of Secure Design (18%): Here, the examination centers on the architecture of secure systems. This includes discussions on the classification and securing of data, alongside considerations for ensuring system reliability and availability, such as through load balancing and strategic site location to enhance data security.
  4. Operational Security Measures (28%): As the most significant domain by weight, it covers the spectrum of operational security activities. This ranges from conducting incident response to leveraging automation and orchestration for enhanced security measures. It also includes the utilization of data sources, like logs and vulnerability scans, to aid in security assessments and investigations.
  5. Governance, Risk Management, and Security Awareness (20%): This final domain addresses the governance side of security, detailing the components of effective security governance, including policy formation and standard setting. It further explores risk management methodologies and strategies, as well as the implementation of security awareness initiatives, such as training on phishing detection.

Each domain of the SY0-701 exam has been meticulously designed to provide candidates with a comprehensive understanding of today’s cybersecurity challenges, equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the field.

An Update in Domains from SYO-601 to SYO-701

The CompTIA Security+ SY0-701 exam has introduced changes in its domain structure compared to the previous SY0-601, reflecting an update in the curriculum to better match the evolving field of cybersecurity. Below is a revised overview of these changes:

  1. Introduction of “Foundational Security Principles” in SY0-701: This new domain doesn’t have a direct match in the SY0-601 exam. It consolidates fundamental security concepts that were previously dispersed across various objectives in SY0-601, emphasizing a holistic approach to understanding security principles from the ground up.
  2. Repositioning and Renaming of Domains: The original “Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities” domain from SY0-601 has been transformed into “Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Mitigations” in SY0-701, now serving as the second domain. This change signifies a shift in focus towards a more encompassing view of addressing and mitigating cybersecurity threats.
  3. Transition of “Architecture and Design” to “Security Architecture”: The second domain in SY0-601 has evolved into the third domain in SY0-701, underscoring a refined emphasis on designing secure systems within the updated exam.
  4. Distribution of “Implementation” Across Multiple Domains: The broad “Implementation” domain from SY0-601 doesn’t find a one-to-one correspondence in SY0-701. Instead, its concepts have been integrated across several domains, indicating a more integrated approach to applying cybersecurity practices.
  5. Conceptual Similarity with Varied Terminology: While the last two domains in both SY0-601 and SY0-701 share conceptual similarities, they are presented with different nomenclatures. “Operations and Incident Response” along with “Governance, Risk, and Compliance” in SY0-601 have evolved into “Security Operations” and “Security Program Management and Oversight” in SY0-701, respectively. This renaming reflects an updated perspective on these critical areas within the field of cybersecurity.

What’s Been Removed in SYO-701?

The transition from CompTIA Security+ SY0-601 to SY0-701 has resulted in the removal and modification of several elements to align the certification more closely with current cybersecurity trends and needs. Here’s an overview of the notable areas where changes have been made:

Implementation Scenarios

The focus on scenario-based learning and practical implementation has been significantly reduced in SY0-701. This indicates a shift towards a broader understanding of security concepts, moving from 14 detailed implementation scenarios in SY0-601 to only seven in SY0-701.

Penetration Testing Techniques

Penetration testing, once a heavily emphasized topic in SY0-601 with a dedicated objective, has seen a reduction in focus. The new exam touches on it more generally within management, audits, and assessment discussions, moving away from detailed technique explanations to broader assessment types.

Digital Forensics

Digital forensics, previously detailed in SY0-601, is now briefly mentioned in the context of incident response activities in SY0-701. This change reflects a more integrated approach to incident management and response, rather than a separate focus on forensics.


Specific tools and commands for network reconnaissance, file manipulation, and forensics highlighted in SY0-601 are not mentioned in SY0-701. This removal suggests a shift from tool-specific knowledge to a broader understanding of processes and methodologies in cybersecurity.

Social Engineering and Physical Security Controls

The detailed objectives on social engineering techniques and physical security controls found in SY0-601 have been condensed into smaller sections in SY0-701. This indicates an integrated approach to these topics within the broader cybersecurity context.

Virtualization and Cloud Computing Concepts

Detailed objectives on virtualization and cloud computing present in SY0-601 have been streamlined, with SY0-701 focusing on related acronyms without the explicit mention of specific technologies like fog computing and edge computing. This reflects the fast-evolving nature of cloud technologies.

Attack Frameworks

The explicit mention of attack frameworks like MITRE ATT&CK and Cyber Kill Chain in SY0-601 has been removed in SY0-701. This change may point towards a more generalized approach to understanding cyber threats without reliance on specific frameworks.

Specific Acronyms Removed

A range of specific acronyms present in SY0-601, including ABAC, CAC, CBT, DMZ, DNSSEC, EOS, EOL, MAM, MITM, NAS, OSI, OWASP, QA, RAM, RCS, and WORM, have been removed in SY0-701. This streamlining likely aims to focus on the most impactful and current concepts within cybersecurity, ensuring the certification remains relevant and practical.

Which Security Plus Exam is best for You?

Deciding which Security+ exam to pursue, SY0-601 or the newer SY0-701, boils down to your current level of knowledge, access to study resources, and career aspirations. If you’re closer to the beginning of your cybersecurity journey and have access to a wealth of study materials tailored to the SY0-601, this path might be more straightforward due to the abundance of preparatory content available. On the other hand, if you’re aiming to ensure your knowledge reflects the latest in cybersecurity trends, practices, and technologies, the SY0-701 might be the better choice. This version focuses on newer domains like hybrid/cloud operations and Zero Trust architecture, offering insights into more current cybersecurity environments. Ultimately, both exams validate crucial cybersecurity skills, but your choice should align with your professional goals and the resources you have at your disposal to prepare effectively.

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