Red Hat is launching what it says is the first performance-based security certification for enterprise Linux servers, officials announced Thursday.

The security track, Red Hat Certified Security Specialist (RHCSS), covers a wide range of security-centric offerings, including setting up directory services and authentication, SELinux security policy administration and configuring VPNs.

Most Linux security courses are just tests conducted either online or offline, said Leigh Day, a Red Hat spokeswoman. Red Hat courses, on the other hand, are always hands-on with exams putting students in front of a terminal.

Employers look at certifications, or certs, as an indication of a baseline of knowledge in the particular area, whether its the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) or CompTIA's A+ course.

Linux is considered by its advocates as fundamentally more secure than other operating systems, notably the bug-prone but dominant Windows OS. But with the rise in popularity for the open source OS, so too is its attractiveness to malware writers looking for vulnerabilities to exploit.

Similarly, companies want trained IT staffers to mitigate that threat and manage the network.

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