The SANS Institute is currently working on a wireless security certification within its GIAC credentialing program, officials announced recently. The GIAC Assessing Wireless Networks (GAWN), which will be one of three 600-level certifications (the organization’s highest tier), will cover topics like protocols, cryptography and rogue access points.
“The certification is to quality people who have demonstrated skills in wireless security, auditing and analysis techniques,” said Joshua Wright, deputy director of training for the SANS Institute, and author and teacher of the GAWN course. “By passing this certification, they show that they can successfully assess the security of wireless networks, audit implementations of wireless networks and design a secure wireless infrastructure. It’s such a wonderful field for professionals to get into. It’s at the cornerstone of two significant growth markets.”
It’s an in-demand market too, said Stephen Northcutt, director of GIAC certifications. He explained that customers’ calls for the course at SANS Institute events was part of the impetus behind developing the GAWN certification. “I realized that we needed to essentially create a certification worthy of the course,” he said. “I was working to come up with a structure so I could say the exam really matched it.”
This development process involved dividing Wright’s course content into individual reusable learning objects, then ranking them according to factors like practicality. “By getting the relevance, the importance and the difficulty all sorted out, we can then construct an exam design,” Northcutt said. “We can weight the pieces of the exams down to the atomic learning level.” However, the test still needs to go through rigorous psychometrics, and he predicts that the final version of the exam will come out sometime during March next year.
In the meantime, prospective certification candidates can prepare by taking the course the SANS Institute offers. This includes slide decks, written materials and hands-on lab exercises, Wright said. “It’s all instructor-driven material. One of the things I love about the SANS Institute is you can come here and take a class, and you get the advantage of being able to interact with your peers and your instructor.”
“We assume that the users come in with at least some background knowledge on configuring, deploying and managing wireless networks,” he added. “We don’t require the students to have a lot of knowledge about auditing wireless. We provide all the hands-on knowledge for that in the course itself. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge in the class. The SANS analogy we hear a lot is that it’s like drinking from a fire hose. That’s really what our delivery method is like. There’s so much information to cover in six days that it’s not necessary for students to come in with a lot of knowledge ahead of time, but they have to be prepared to absorb a lot of knowledge in a very short amount of time.”