Passing the CWSP (Certified Wireless Security Professional)

Last week I sat the CWSP exam and passed on my first attempt. My overall score was 91%. I want to share my insight into the exam and what I used to prepare.



The CWSP study material sets the foundation of 802.11 security. Its the building blocks to understandinghow 802.11 security works from encryption, EAP, dynamic key generation, security policy, roaming and the 802.11 standard. For anyone who  troubleshoots, designs, deploys or debugs 802.11, the CWSP compliments your abilities.

There is a tremendous amount of value contained in the CWSP study guide, should you choose not to actually go for the certification itself. I can not tell you how many times, over and over again where I referenced martial in the CWSP for colleagues and customers. There is instant creditability when you can speak confidently in great detail about the inner workings of 802.11.


If I can offer one valuable piece of advice. Never skimp on foundation learning. Understanding, in detail, how the different 802.11 security components and mechanics work are critical. Cause, as you will learn, may of the new and future standards are almost always applied to the existing mechanics. A solid foundation lends to better comprehension of future advancements in 802.11.


Taking any exam, its importance to read the exam objectives. Objectives are the clear definition of what you will be tested on. There should be no surprises, if your study efforts are inline with the objectives. Also, don’t start carving up the objectives and think that this section is only worth 5% and not give it your all, when it comes to studying. All objectives should be studied.

It is also important to take these objectives, break them out and reference other authored material for a different perspective on the subject. I used the following:

802.11-2007 Standard

Cisco Wireless LAN Security ISBN: 1-58705-154-0

CWNP White Papers

– 802.11i Authentication and Key Management (AKM) White Paper

Robust Security Network (RSN) Fast BSS Transition (FT) White Paper

CWNP Website – CWSP

CWNP Forums – CWSP

CWNP Self Study Material – CWSP


If you’re studying a topic and something just doesn’t make sense, tap a knowledgeable source. I always enjoy talking geek details with my friends to get a different spin on things.


Its simple, to pass the CWSP, it requires a great deal of attention to detail. Take notes often and frequently on all subjects. I used mental case and to store and reference my notes.

You can find a few of my notes here for reference:



You probably will not believe me when I tell you I read the CWSP study guide over 20 times, cover to cover, but I did. Read a book over and over is much like watching a move a number of times. You catch little things you missed the first, second or third time around. I got into a habit of reading a chapter a night.


CWNP.COM has a number of CWSP practice exams. The CWSP study guide includes a CD with exam questions as well. Do them often and pay very close attention to the questions being asked. Don’t study the questions, rather study the content of the question being asked.


The CWSP exam is multiple choice. In almost all cases, if you are confident in your studies, you can quickly exclude one or more possible answers from your choices.



If you have experience with radius server configuration, 802.11 captures, and exposure to wireless equipment you will certainly improve your odds of passing. It would be a stretch to say, you NEED this hands on in order to pass, but it certainly helps!

Thank you CWNP

I want to thank all the good folks at CWNP for putting together a great exam and study guide. Also the fine authors – Coleman, Westcott, Harkins and Jackman for a job well done on great material.

CWSP is by far my personal best 802.11 security book ever read. Ive read it over 20+ times. Great read …

I also want to mention — thanks to Marcus for answering my, “HUH” questions and letting me bounce  random and sometimes confusing thoughts off of him. I really appreciate it.

I also want to thank Kevin for keeping CWNP relevant and restructuring the certification path and keeping the exam material relevant and up to date. I appreciate your dedication to the WiFi community.

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George Stefanick

George Stefanick

1 Comment

  1. July 21, 2013 at 11:01 pm — Reply

    Sybex is now the official publisher for Certified Wireless Network Professional, the certifying vendor for the CWSP program. This guide covers all exam objectives, including WLAN discovery techniques, intrusion and attack techniques, 802.11 protocol analysis. Wireless intrusion-prevention systems implementation, layer 2 and 3 VPNs used over 802.11 networks, and managed endpoint security systems. It also covers enterprise/SMB/SOHO/Public-Network Security design models and security solution implementation, building robust security networks, wireless LAN management systems, and much more.

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