Introduction to CompTIA SY0-401 Security+

CompTIA’s Security+ is a popular IT certification, and the certification topics range from networking to cryptography. In this video, I’ll give you an overview of the Security+ certification and I’ll give you some tips to help with your exam testing experience.

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Hello, everyone. Welcome to Professor Messer’s CompTIA SY0-401 Security+ Plus training course. I’m James Messer, and I’ll be your host through all of these videos that we’ve made available for you, absolutely free, to learn everything you’re going to need to know to pass your Security+ exam.

First, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’ve been working in the technology industry for over 25 years now, and I’ve had jobs that have ranged from delivering printer cables to working in mainframe and supercomputer environments and, of course, managing day to day operations of networks and security. This is one of the things I like about the Security+, is that once you have this certification, you can really apply it towards so many different aspects of information technology. And of course, I am also CompTIA certified as well. So as you go through this course, you’ll know that you’re learning this information from someone who has also gone through and passed this exam.

When you start going through my video course, you may find that the structure is a little bit different than other video courses you may have seen before. I like to keep my videos relatively short. I focus on a single topic or set of topics.

So you’ll find that most of the videos are 15 minutes or less. I try to make them very quick so that you can get in, get the information you need. And then you can either stop and go do something else, or you can go directly to the next video.

It was important to me when I started creating this series that the videos themselves would be worthwhile. I not only wanted to create absolutely free videos that anybody could watch, but I wanted those videos to be very high quality. It was important, as someone who’s done corporate training in the past and someone that has had technical roles that needed to get certifications, that I was providing you with something that would be worthwhile to watch.

We’ve designed these videos for everyone, whether you’re looking for your first job. Maybe you’re looking to move up in your current career, or maybe you’re changing industries and now getting into technology. We think that this video series should work perfectly for you.

And as I mentioned, this is an absolutely free course. Not just one video is free or two videos are free. Every single video of this course can be watched online for absolutely free.

There’s no registrations involved. There’s nothing extra that you need to do. You simply go to the web page. You click on the video. And you can watch every minute of every video.

If you do want to take these videos offline, I do have versions that you can purchase so that if you wanted to be on a plane or away from your internet connection, you would still have access to all of this training material. I’ve also taken all of the content of my videos and created a relatively inexpensive study guide that you can purchase. This has all of the text and all of the graphics.

All of the displays that you see are in this downloadable PDF file. That way, you can concentrate on watching the videos instead of taking notes, and all of your notes, when you’re ready to study for that final exam, will be in one place for you. You can find information on the offline videos, the downloadable PDF study guide, and every single video in the entire index can be found at my website at

CompTIA stands for the Computing Technology Industry Association. It is our industry’s largest provider of these vendor-neutral IT certifications. It used to be in our industry that we would have to go to individual manufacturers to be able to take their specific exam. What CompTIA has done is create a vendor-neutral version of that so that one single exam can take the place of all of those manufacturers’ exams.

You’ll also notice that CompTIA is a worldwide organization with reach to over a hundred different countries. You can not only take the Security+ exam in English, but also in many different languages around the world. CompTIA certifications are some of the most popular and well known certifications in our industry. If you’re someone who is looking for a job, one of the things you’ll notice is that CompTIA certifications comes up again and again when you’re looking at job descriptions.

Many people also use CompTIA certifications to improve their own career. You can get your Security+ and move into, perhaps, a security group within your own existing organization. And some organizations won’t even hire you unless you have certain CompTIA certifications. A very good example is the federal government of the United States that requires certain certifications to even hold a security job within their ranks.

And of course, your goal may not be any of these things. It may just be that you’re getting your certification for your own personal satisfaction. This latest version of the CompTIA Security+ exam is the SY0-401. If you’re looking at your study materials and the books that you use, make sure that they all are referring to this particular version number of the exam.

If you’re working in an educational facility that is a CompTIA Academy partner, you might also see this exam referred to as the JK0-022. It’s exactly the same exam with exactly the same questions and the same content. But the numbering scheme is a little bit different if you are a CompTIA Academy partner.

The Security+ exam is 90 minutes long, and you’ll get a maximum of 90 questions. The bulk of these questions will probably be traditional multiple choice questions. But CompTIA will also ask you performance-based questions. These questions may be a matching set of questions. You may have to rank things in a certain order. But they are outside the scope of what you would traditionally see in a multiple choice exam.

The passing score on the Security+ exam is 750 on a scale of 100 to 900. That’s a little bit different than a percentage complete. And it’s difficult to calculate that, because we believe that CompTIA rates their different questions as having a different value. So you’re never quite certain the number of questions that you would have to get correct to be able to pass the exam. You just have to do the best you can and hope that you got some of those high valued questions correct.

The exam includes topics from six different areas or domains. The first domain is network security. And 20% of your exam will be associated with topics from that particular domain.

Domain 2 is compliance and operational security, for 18% of the exam. Threats and vulnerabilities is another 20% of the exam. And then you have application, data, and host security at 15% of the exam. And section 5 is access control and identity management, for 15%. And finally, cryptography is 12% of the exam.

You’ll get a randomized set of questions from all of these domains to make up the total of 100%. And you’ll want to check with CompTIA’s exam objectives to know exactly what’s expected from each one of these domains. That’s why I always give my first tip to anybody who’s taking a CompTIA– is to go to the CompTIA website and download those exam objectives. They’re very detailed, and they will let you know exactly what you need to learn to be able to pass this certification exam.

Of course, I’ve also got these videos available for you to watch. And I’ve also got these videos integrated into a book from GTS Learning. So you can watch a little bit of a video and read all about it on the same page of these ebooks. There are also topics on my website, in my forums and on my online chat, where you can discuss all of these topics with other people who are also taking these exams.

There are a lot of different testing centers for the CompTIA exams. Some are better than others. So you may want to familiarize yourself with the testing centers in your area and perhaps visit some of them before you book your exam.

You want to get a lot of sleep and be ready to take that exam so when you walk in the door, you’re able to focus on everything that’s expected of you. And if you can arrive on site a little bit early, you may also be able to relax, be able to look over your notes, and in some cases, even start the exam before your allotted time.

Sometimes there’s a lot of anxiety when you’re taking an exam like this. So when you sit down in the testing center in front of your computer, before clicking that Start button, you may want to take a few deep breaths, maybe write down some notes on the information that the testing center is giving you, and see if you can’t become more comfortable with the environment that’s around you. If during your exam there is some noise in the outside or the environment is not comfortable, you can stand up and let the testing center know that there are problems. It’s much better for the testing center to resolve these issues during your exam than to have you go all the way through the exam and not do as well because there were problems with the environment.

The CompTIA exam allows you to move throughout any question on the exam at any time. So you can jump all the way to the end. You can look at questions in the middle of the exam. And then you can go all the way back to the very first question if you’d like to.

If you run across a question that you’re having a problem with, you can mark it and move to another question. And then before you submit the exam, you can look at a list of all of the questions that you’ve marked, and jump back to them at any time to address any questions that you might have had. So it’s a good way, from a time management perspective, to skip over the ones that you’re really having a problem with, make sure you’re able to answer the ones you really know, and then easily find those to jump back to later.

Before you submit the exam to be graded, you’ll get a page that lists out everything on the exam– all of the questions. It will show you what your answer was for those questions. And it will tell you if you have any questions that have been marked. So before you’re able to submit that, make sure you look over that, and be sure that you’ve answered every single question that’s on the exam.

Once you hit that Submit button, there’s no going back. Your exam will be graded, and you’ll know immediately whether you passed or whether you failed. If you pass, congratulations. But if you’ve failed, don’t walk out without a sheet of paper that tells you how you did on the exam. It will take each of the Security+ domains and tell you how you did on each one. If you’re planning a retest, it’s useful to have that information so you’ll know what sections you need to really study for next time.

So you can start studying right now for your Security+ exam. Go out to my website at, and start watching those videos. If you need a companion book, you can find that at I’ve also got all of the videos arranged by all of the CompTIA domains in exactly the same order as the exam objectives. So it’s very easy to find the topics you’re looking for.

I’ve also got online message boards that you can use to communicate with others who are taking the exam. And of course, these are also absolutely free to participate in. I’ve also got a real-time chat that’s at the bottom of every page of my website, so you can interactively communicate with all of the other students that are on the Professor Messer website. And I like to hang out in there as well and answer questions whenever I can.

Well, this should be your start to learning everything you need to know for your Security+ exam. I hope you’re excited to get started. And we wish you the best of luck with your studies.