The eight domains of the CISSP exam represent a comprehensive roadmap for cybersecurity expertise. Among these domains, two stand out for their critical role in today’s digital landscape: Domain 8 – Software Development Security (SDLC) and Domain 10 – Security Communication Networks. This article delves into these crucial domains, demystifying their complexities and empowering you to master their concepts.

Whether you’re a seasoned security professional or an aspiring CISSP candidate, this article serves as your guide. We’ll navigate the intricacies of Domain 8, exploring best practices for integrating security throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC). You’ll gain insights into common vulnerabilities and coding flaws, equipping yourself to build secure applications from the ground up.

Next, we’ll shift gears and explore Domain 10, venturing into the realm of secure communication networks. Here, we’ll unveil essential protocols and encryption methods, demonstrating how to safeguard data in transit across networks.

By mastering these vital CISSP domains, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills to secure the software development process and fortify the defences of communication networks. So, prepare to demystify the intricacies of secure software development and communication within the CISSP framework!

The original CISSP curriculum, delineated into 10 domains, provided a comprehensive framework covering diverse facets of information security, ranging from asset security and security operations to software development security. However, the revamped structure condenses these domains into a more streamlined model of 8 domains, incorporating a strategic amalgamation of related topics into broader categories.

This article endeavours to dissect and compare the CISSP 10 domains against the newer CISSP 8 domains, aiming to elucidate the structural alterations, the impact on certification preparation, and the relevance of these changes in aligning with contemporary cybersecurity landscapes. By exploring the intricacies, merits, and possible implications of these domain structure variations, this analysis aims to equip cybersecurity professionals and CISSP aspirants with a comprehensive understanding, aiding in informed decisions and effective exam preparation.

Let us embark on a detailed exploration, navigating through the intricacies of these domain structures to unravel their distinct characteristics, implications, and significance in the ever-evolving domain of information security.

Brief Overview of CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)

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The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential is recognised globally as a gold standard in the field of information security. Established by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)², CISSP certification validates the expertise and knowledge of cybersecurity professionals in designing, implementing, and managing robust security programs to protect organisations against evolving cyber threats.

CISSP certification encompasses a comprehensive range of cybersecurity domains, ensuring certified professionals possess a broad understanding of various security disciplines, enabling them to address multifaceted security challenges effectively. The CISSP certification serves as a testament to an individual’s proficiency and commitment to upholding the highest standards of information security practices.

Explanation of CISSP Domains and their Significance in the Certification

The CISSP exam evaluates candidates across eight essential domains covering critical aspects of information security. Each domain represents a distinct area of expertise, emphasising specific knowledge areas that a cybersecurity professional must comprehend and master to obtain the CISSP certification. These domains are structured to provide a comprehensive understanding of various facets of information security, ensuring that certified individuals possess a well-rounded skill set to address diverse security challenges in real-world scenarios.

The domains encompass a broad spectrum of topics, including Security and Risk Management, Asset Security, Security Architecture and Engineering, Communication and Network Security, Identity and Access Management (IAM), Security Assessment and Testing, Security Operations, and Software Development Security. Each domain is carefully curated to cover essential principles, methodologies, and best practices relevant to the respective area of information security.

By comprehensively covering these domains, the CISSP certification ensures that cybersecurity professionals possess a holistic understanding of information security principles, enabling them to navigate complex security landscapes, devise robust security strategies, and effectively mitigate risks across various domains of an organisation’s infrastructure.

CISSP 10 Domains

The CISSP 10-domain structure was introduced in 2021 to reflect the evolving cybersecurity landscape and the need for professionals to have a broader understanding of security concepts. The ten domains cover a wide range of topics, from security and risk management to cloud security and software development security.

Domain 1: Security and Risk Management

This domain delves into the foundational principles of security and risk management, covering topics such as risk assessment, governance frameworks, security policies, compliance, ethics, and security awareness training. It emphasises the significance of aligning security with organisational objectives and ensuring effective risk management strategies.

Domain 2: Asset Security

Asset Security focuses on safeguarding an organisation’s assets by employing principles and practices related to asset classification, ownership, data privacy, retention, and disposal. It encompasses the protection of physical and digital assets, emphasising confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Domain 3: Security Architecture and Engineering

Security Architecture and Engineering involve designing and building secure systems by applying security principles, models, architectures, and secure design principles. This domain covers security controls, secure development methodologies, security models, and cryptographic systems.

Domain 4: Communication and Network Security

This domain covers secure communication and network infrastructure, addressing topics such as network protocols, secure transmission, VPNs, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and secure network architecture. It focuses on ensuring secure data transmission and network resilience.

Domain 5: Identity and Access Management (IAM)

IAM emphasises managing and controlling user access to resources. It covers identity management, authentication mechanisms, access control models, user provisioning, privilege management, and single sign-on solutions to ensure appropriate user access while maintaining security.

Domain 6: Security Assessment and Testing

Security Assessment and Testing encompass evaluating, assessing, and validating security controls. It includes topics such as security assessments, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, security auditing, and conducting security tests to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities.

Domain 7: Security Operations

This domain deals with security operations management, incident response, monitoring, threat intelligence, disaster recovery, business continuity, and managing security incidents. It focuses on ensuring the effective operation and response to security incidents.

Domain 8: Software Development Security

Software Development Security emphasises secure software development practices, covering topics such as secure coding practices, software development lifecycle (SDLC) security, security controls in software, and addressing vulnerabilities in applications.

Domain 9: Legal, Regulations, Investigations, and Compliance

This domain covers legal and regulatory compliance, investigations, privacy laws, intellectual property rights, digital forensics, and handling legal and regulatory compliance within security frameworks.

Domain 10: Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)

Secure SDLC involves integrating security into the software development process from inception to deployment. It emphasises secure design, coding practices, testing, deployment, and maintenance, ensuring that security is an integral part of the software development lifecycle.

CISSP 8 Domains

The CISSP certification originally comprised 10 domains, but it underwent a revision, condensing into 8 domains. While the 10-domain structure offers a more granular breakdown of security concepts, the 8-domain model seeks to streamline and consolidate the domains while retaining core security principles.

Unique Domains in the 8-Domain Structure

Mastering the CISSP: SDLC Question Breakdown In Domain 8
  1. Security and Risk Management (Domain 1): In the 8-domain model, Security and Risk Management encapsulate various aspects previously covered in multiple domains, integrating risk assessment, governance, security policies, compliance, and security awareness into a single domain.
  2. Asset Security (Domain 2): Asset Security remains unchanged, retaining its focus on the classification, ownership, protection, and handling of organisational assets.
  3. Security Architecture and Engineering (Domain 3): Similar to the 10-domain structure, this domain concentrates on secure design, security models, cryptography, and secure engineering principles.
  4. Communication and Network Security (Domain 4): The domain covering secure communication and network infrastructure, including topics such as network protocols, transmission security, VPNs, firewalls, and network architecture, remains consistent in both structures.
  5. Identity and Access Management (IAM) (Domain 5): IAM continues to focus on managing user access to resources, incorporating authentication, authorisation, RBAC, and user management.
  6. Security Assessment and Testing (Domain 6): This domain concentrates on security assessment methodologies, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and security testing, ensuring the identification and mitigation of vulnerabilities.
  7. Security Operations (Domain 7): Security Operations remain unchanged, emphasising security operations management, incident response, monitoring, threat intelligence, and security incident management.
  8. Software Development Security (Domain 8): Similar to the 10-domain structure, this domain addresses secure software development practices, secure coding, secure development lifecycle, and mitigating software vulnerabilities.

Comparison Between CISSP 10 Domains and 8 Domains

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The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is a globally recognised credential that validates the expertise of cybersecurity professionals. It is highly sought after by organisations of all sizes, as it demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity principles and practices.

The CISSP certification has undergone several revisions over the years, with the most recent update in 2021 introducing the 10-domain structure. This change reflects the evolving cybersecurity landscape and the need for professionals to have a broader understanding of security concepts.

Coverage and Depth

10 Domains: The 10-domain structure offers a more detailed breakdown of security concepts, covering various facets of security comprehensively. This includes areas like security operations, secure software development, and legal and regulatory compliance, which are more granularly addressed.

8 Domains: In contrast, the 8-domain structure condenses and consolidates certain domains, leading to a broader coverage per domain. While it may seem to reduce depth, it still adequately covers essential security principles without extensive fragmentation.

Relevance and Breadth

10 Domains: The 10-domain structure offers a broader scope, allowing candidates to delve into specific areas with greater detail. It emphasises a wide range of security aspects, providing an in-depth understanding of each domain’s intricacies.

8 Domains: While condensing domains, the 8-domain structure still maintains a comprehensive approach to security, albeit with a slightly broader focus in each domain. This approach ensures candidates grasp core concepts without overwhelming fragmentation.

Preparation and Exam Difficulty

10 Domains: The 10-domain structure might require candidates to manage a more extensive breadth of topics, potentially making exam preparation more demanding due to the depth of knowledge needed in each area.

8 Domains: With fewer domains, the 8-domain structure streamlines preparation by condensing and integrating topics, potentially making it more manageable for candidates to grasp the core concepts, resulting in a slightly less demanding preparation process.

Considerations for Aspiring CISSP Professionals

Aspiring CISSP professionals should carefully consider several factors as they embark on their journey to earn this esteemed certification:

Factors to Consider when Choosing Between the 10 Domains and 8 Domains Structure

Domain Preference and Comfort Level: Consider your familiarity and comfort with a more comprehensive or condensed approach to security domains. Assess whether you prefer a deeper dive into specific areas or a broader coverage across fewer domains.

Study Resources and Materials: Evaluate the availability and relevance of study resources aligned with your chosen domain structure. Adequate study materials can significantly impact your preparation and understanding of the subject matter.

Professional Background and Experience: Consider your existing knowledge and experience in the field of information security. Professionals with extensive experience might find the 10 domains more accommodating for in-depth exploration, while those seeking a broader overview might prefer the 8 domains.

Preparation Time and Strategy: Assess your available study time and preferred study strategy. Determine whether a more detailed or broader approach aligns better with your study habits and timelines.

Recommendations and Advice for CISSP Certification Aspirants

Research and Understand Both Structures: Thoroughly explore the content and coverage of both domain structures. Leverage available resources, forums, and official CISSP documentation to gain insights into the content of each domain structure.

Assess Personal Learning Style: Consider your learning style – whether you grasp concepts better with more detailed information or prefer a broader overview. Choose a structure that aligns with your learning preferences and enhances your understanding.

Consult with Peers and Professionals: Engage with CISSP-certified professionals or peers who have experience with both structures. Seek advice and opinions to gain perspectives that might assist in making an informed decision.

Take Practice Exams and Assessments: Attempt practice exams or sample questions related to both structures to gauge your comfort level and understanding of the content. This practical approach helps in assessing which structure resonates more with your preparation.

Stay Flexible and Adaptable: Remain open to adapting your study approach based on initial experiences. If one structure doesn’t suit your learning style, be prepared to pivot to the other structure without losing study momentum.


The comparison between CISSP’s 10 domains and 8 domains reveals significant differences in coverage, depth, and exam focus. The 10-domain structure provides a comprehensive breakdown of various security aspects, offering a detailed exploration of specific topics. Conversely, the 8-domain structure consolidates domains to provide a broader yet more condensed overview of critical security domains.