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The courses set out the material covered on the various GIAC exams and in related projects quite well. That's why that material is reviewed next. Currently, five GIAC certifications can be considered "foundational," as follows:

  • GIAC Gold Standard Certificate (GGSC-0100). This certification recognizes security professionals, such as managers, security officers, auditors, and system administrators, who can effectively apply the Gold Standards developed by The Center for Internet Security to Windows 2000 systems.
  • GIAC Information Security Officer-Basic (GISO-Basic). This certification recognizes individuals who are responsible for information security resources and have basic technical knowledge of threats, risks, and best practices. The GISO-Basic is geared toward candidates who are new to the security industry who desire basic knowledge of security principles and techniques.
  • GIAC IT Security Audit Essentials (GSAE). This certification recognizes entry-level security professionals with the skills necessary to perform a security audit, including knowledge of checklists, limited risk assessments, and best practices. The course blitzes through a broad but shallow survey of security topics, concepts, terms and technologies, designed to orient individuals unfamiliar with security and to help them understand and deal with security topics.
  • GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC). This certification provides serious coverage of computer and network security topics, tools, and techniques. Topics include information assurance basics, IP concepts and behavior, security policy, threats, virus protection, password management, PGP, cryptography, and system backups.
  • GIAC Security Leadership Certificate (GSLC). This certification recognizes junior to mid-level security managers who have mastered the essential knowledge related to information security issues, technologies, and best practices.

Of all of the entry-level certifications, the GSEC deserves a bit more coverage. Although no GIAC certifications have prerequisites, SANS highly recommends that would-be security professionals master the materials associated with the GSEC before pursuing any of its higher-level certifications.

The Security Essentials class costs $2,180 for the online class and for related exam and project fees; at SANS conferences, classroom costs are almost the same. Those who want to take only the exam and submit a project without a class pay $425.

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