January 17, 2021
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Security Certifications: Qualifying Yourself for System Defense

  • By Steve Rowe
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SANS-GIAC Certification

The SANS Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) program is another upper echelon, highly respected security certification program. The SANS Institute is a well-known and well-respected group who deals with information security. Unlike the CISSP program, which is one exam only, the GIAC program has multiple exams and levels one can take. SANS breaks down their exams into Foundational, Intermediate, and Advanced level exams, and one can complete as few as one GIAC exam all the way to completing a grueling program of multiple exams to achieve the GIAC Security Engineer (GSE) certification. Each GIAC certification is designed to stand on its own if that is what the candidate chooses.

Each of the GIAC certifications requires two steps for successful completion. First, candidates must complete a written "Practical Assignment". This assignment requires candidates to write out their solution to a given task. The end goal of this part of the examination is to prove the candidate's hands-on, real-world skills with information security. The second step is to pass a written exam. SANS desires this two-step process as a way for the candidate to show their "real-world" skills with the practical assignment and their knowledge levels with the written exam.

One of the more popular GIAC exams is the foundational GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC). This certification is for current system and network administrators who want to develop their security skills and for the information security professionals who want to solidify their security knowledge. This test examines the essential knowledge that anyone performing information security duties should know.

The Intermediate level exams cover a multitude of topics. Items candidates can select from include, network operating systems security, firewalls, intrusion analysis, and incident handling, to name a few. Checkout www.giac.org/certifications for information on all the intermediate level certifications.

An advanced certification option is the previously mentioned GIAC Security Engineer certification (GSE). This requires candidates to pass a battery of 5 intermediate exams and receive an "honors" level in one of the Subject Area Modules before they can sit for the GSE exam. This certification is the mastery level of the SANS certification tracks.

The following are some important facts concerning the GIAC certification program:

  • Exams typically cost $425. Some discounts may be offered with SANS training. Be sure to check in with the SANS certification Web site for offers.
  • All GIAC certifications require renewal. Be sure to check the SANS certification Web site to find out what the life cycle of your GIAC certification is. Some are live for two years while others are live for up to 4 years. Most GIAC certifications can be renewed by taking a renewal exam currently for $120.

The SANS GIAC certifications are well-respected information security certifications. If security is a career option for you, this certification program is certainly worth checking out. SANS also offers a solid training program for those who wish to train for a GIAC certification. This training can be expensive, but all accounts rate the training from SANS to be of high quality.

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This article was originally published on May 9, 2003

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