Certifiably Secure: The GIAC Security Expert
Sometimes, an ordinary information security certification isn’t enough for some people. They need something more demanding or difficult to really become fully engaged in the process. One current nonpareil certification for those inclined to go the extra mile—and then some—is the capstone certification in the SANS Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) program known as the GIAC Security Expert, or GSE.
Obtaining a GSE requires that candidates first earn five intermediate-level GIAC certifications, and that they earn “honors” (special recognition for high achievers) in at least one subject area:
- GIAC Certified Firewall Analyst
- GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst
- GIAC Certified Incident Handler
- GIAC Certified Windows Security Administrator
- GIAC Certified UNIX Security Administrator
After meeting the pre-requisites, GSE candidates must then sit for and pass another GSE exam.
GIAC credentials are most typically earned by attending courses offered at SANS conferences, but an increasing number of their courses are also available online. According to the training and course matrix on the SANS home page, all five of the component certs required for the GSE are available online already. Expect to spend about $2,400 per topic for training and the cert exam, whether you study online or at a conference. Presumably, there’s an additional charge for the GSE exam, but I can’t find any specifics on the GIAC web site on that cost right now (most challenge exams costs from $250 to $450 so it’s probably somewhere in that neighborhood).
Because maintaining a current GSE requires keeping all five component certs current, and each of those components has a two-year expiry period, the GSE itself has no other expiration period. But keeping those five component credentials current should be enough to keep even those extraordinary mortals who earn a GSE pretty busy. At last report (mid-2003) only two individuals had earned this credential, but with these requirements that’s no big surprise!