A Step by Step Guide on How to Obtain a GIAC Certification


Overview of the Certification

Global Information Assurance Certification is an information security certification entity that provides vendor-neutral technical and practical certifications that help individuals stay ahead of black hat techniques. This equips professionals with cutting-edge knowledge in cybersecurity to govern and manage an enterprise’s IT programs.

GIAC certifications develop and administer professional cybersecurity certifications. Its arsenal of 30 cybersecurity certifications provides master in critical and specialized InfoSec domains. They are a testament to the highest and most rigorous cybersecurity skills available to any industry, government, or military clients across the world.

Because of its emphasis on both technical and practical elements, these certifications align with the real-world implications of IT security. Its exams are focused on the application of this knowledge for protecting enterprise’s proprietary information and IT security programs. Today’s cyberattacks are highly sophisticated and exploit specific vulnerabilities. Broad, general InfoSec certifications are no longer enough. Professionals need specific skills and specialized knowledge to meet multiple, varied threats.

The design of a certification exam can impact the quality and integrity of certification. GIAC exam content and question design are developed through a rigorous process led by GIAC’s on-staff psychometrician and reviewed by experts in each technical area. More than 146,000 certifications have been issued since 1999. GIAC Certifications meet ANSI/ISO 17024 standards and align with the NICE framework.

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Is This Certification Right for You?

Defending against attacks is an ongoing challenge, with new threats emerging daily and APT (advanced persistent threat) on everyone’s mind. Well prepared organizations understand what has worked and will always work is taking a risk-based approach to cyber defense. Ensuring the highest level of cyber security means having the expertise and knowledge to focus on the right areas of cyber defence.

Technical knowledge is no longer sufficient for leading a security function across complex organizations. Today’s security leaders must combine technical knowledge with leadership and management skills that are rooted in a deep understanding of the business. GIAC certifications prove performance mastery of intensive, practical steps necessary for defending applications and systems against the most dangerous threats.

Knowledge in a particular area, Intrusion Detection or Incident Handling, is both important and valuable. Individuals who earn any of the GIAC certifications have worked hard, demonstrated essential technical skills, and should rightfully take pride in their accomplishments. Those who pursue an in-depth technical education in all areas of information security are the target audience for the GSE certification.

GIAC Gold status demonstrates that the certification holder understands and can communicate the knowledge and skills necessary in key areas of information security. GIAC Gold is your chance to shine and demonstrate not only your technical knowledge but also your ability to write clearly. Once a Gold paper has been approved, it will be published in GIAC’s Reading Room.

Eligibility Criteria and Road Map for GIAC Certifications

Initially, all SANS GIAC certifications required a written paper or “practical” on a specific area of the certification in order to achieve the certification. In April 2005, the SANS organization changed the format of the certification by breaking it into two separate levels.

The “silver” level certification is achieved upon completion of a multiple-choice exam. The “gold” level certification can be obtained by completing a research paper and has the silver level as a prerequisite. Other than that, there are no eligibility criteria. The certifications that GIAC offers, according to its own website, are(1)

Certification Category
GSEC: GIAC Security Essentials Cyber Defense
GCIH: GIAC Certified Incident Handler Penetration Testing
GCFA: GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst Incident Response and Forensics
GPEN: GIAC Penetration Tester Penetration Testing
GCIA: GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst Cyber Defense
GWAPT: GIAC Web Application Penetration Tester Penetration Testing
GCFE: GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner Incident Response and Forensics
GSLC: GIAC Security Leadership Management, Audit, Legal
GREM: GIAC Reverse Engineering Malware Incident Response and Forensics
GISF: GIAC Information Security Fundamentals Cyber Defense
GCED: GIAC Certified Enterprise Defender Cyber Defense
GICSP: Global Industrial Cyber Security Professional Industrial Control Systems
GSNA: GIAC Systems and Network Auditor Management, Audit, Legal
GMON: GIAC Continuous Monitoring Certification Cyber Defense
GNFA: GIAC Network Forensic Analyst Incident Response and Forensics
GCWN: GIAC Certified Windows Security Administrator Cyber Defense
GXPN: GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester Penetration Testing
GISP: GIAC Information Security Professional Management, Audit, Legal
GPPA: GIAC Certified Perimeter Protection Analyst Cyber Defense
GCCC: GIAC Critical Controls Certification Cyber Defense
GMOB: GIAC Mobile Device Security Analyst Penetration Testing
GAWN: GIAC Assessing and Auditing Wireless Networks Penetration Testing
GCTI: GIAC Cyber Threat Intelligence Incident Response and Forensics
GCUX: GIAC Certified UNIX Security Administrator Cyber Defense
GPYC: GIAC Python Coder Penetration Testing
GWEB: GIAC Certified Web Application Defender Developer
GSTRT: GIAC Strategic Planning, Policy, and Leadership Management, Audit, Legal
GSSP-JAVA: GIAC Secure Software Programmer-Java Developer
GASF: GIAC Advanced Smartphone Forensics Incident Response and Forensics
GLEG: GIAC Law of Data Security & Investigations Management, Audit, Legal
GCDA: GIAC Certified Detection Analyst Cyber Defense
GRID: GIAC Response and Industrial Defense Industrial Control Systems
GDAT: GIAC Defending Advanced Threats Cyber Defense
GCPM: GIAC Certified Project Manager Management, Audit, Legal
GSSP-.NET: GIAC Secure Software Programmer- .NET Developer
GDSA: GIAC Defensible Security Architecture Cyber Defense
GSE: GIAC Security Expert GSE
GCIP: GIAC Critical Infrastructure Protection Industrial Control Systems
GCSA: GIAC Cloud Security Automation Developer
GEVA: GIAC Enterprise Vulnerability Assessor Penetration Testing
GOSI: GIAC Open Source Intelligence Cyber Defense
GBFA: GIAC Battlefield Forensics and Acquisition Incident Response and Forensics

What is the Cost of GIAC Certification?

Category Price
GIAC Certification (Challenge) Attempt $1,999
GIAC Gold Certification $579
GSE Hands-on Lab Fee $2,579
GSE Entrance Exam $529
Certification Attempt Retakes $799
Certification Attempt Extensions $399
Gold Certification Attempt Extension $399
Certification Renewal $429
Practice Exams (Additional) $169

Affiliate Pricing for GIAC Certification Attempts purchased in conjunction with SANS training is $799 (as of October 1, 2019). GIAC Certification Attempts purchased independently from a SANS training package are $1,999.

Alumni of a SANS training course wishing to attempt the associated GIAC certification at a later date are eligible for a $850 discount. You will receive an email notification when your certification attempt has been activated in your account. Each certification attempt includes 2 practice tests, a $338 value.

GIAC’s website reads a disclaimer, saying, ‘The GIAC certification program only offers certification attempts to individual candidates, including verification of individual identity at multiple steps. GIAC does not permit the resale or transfer of any certification registration or GIAC exam voucher. Each certification attempt purchased is non-transferable and any certification application/registration instance is intrinsically tied to one and only one individual account.’

What are the Salary Options for GIAC Certification?

The average salary for GIAC Security Essentials is about $91k. Overall, the salary for all categories of certifications ranges between $70K to $150k. As GIAC reports, over 81% of hiring managers said that GIAC certification played a role in the certification process

Where to Get Online Resources for GIAC Certification?

GIAC has an official training partner – SANS institute. Apart from that, there are some affiliate training institutes aligned with SANS institute. These providers provide the practice exams for the certification. Because of its high standard, the training providers must be vetted and are held to a high standard.

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