Step by Step Guide to Obtain GIAC GSNA Certification

Breaking Down the GIAC GSNA Certification Exam

IT auditors are tasked with ensuring the efficient operation of an organization's systems and networks by examining the IT infrastructure, its applications, and related procedures. They also safeguard the organization's data from external security risks or threats. In today's IT landscape, there are abundant opportunities for IT professionals. However, competition is fierce. In such a scenario, obtaining the GIAC Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA) certification validates one's skills and expertise for relevant job roles. This article will outline the exam details, process of obtaining GSNA certification and detail its benefits for career advancement.

What Is GIAC GSNA Certification?

The GSNA certification from GIAC validates an individual's proficiency in utilizing basic risk analysis techniques and conducting technical audits on vital information systems. Those holding this certification demonstrate advanced skills in auditing networks, perimeters, and applications, along with the ability to perform risk assessments and compile comprehensive reports.

Exam Structure

  • Number of questions: The GSNA certification exam consists of 115 questions, covering various aspects of cybersecurity and governance.

  • Time Limit: Candidates are allotted 3 hours to complete the exam, ensuring sufficient time for thoughtful consideration of each question.

  • Passing score: To attain the GSNA certification, candidates must achieve a score of 72% or higher, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.

  • Exam Cost: The fee for the GSNA certification exam is 979 USD, providing access to valuable assessment and validation of cybersecurity expertise.

Exam Objectives

  • Auditing Access Control and Data Handling in Web Applications

  • Auditing the Enterprise Network

  • Auditing UNIX and Linux Systems

  • Auditing Web Applications

  • Auditing Windows Systems and Domains

  • Risk Assessment for Auditors

  • The Audit Process

  • UNIX and Linux Logging and Continuous Monitoring

  • Windows Logging and Continuous Monitoring

Intended Audience

  • Auditors

  • System administrators

  • Security professionals

  • Network administrators

  • Anyone who wants to implement effective continuous monitoring processes

Top 10 Steps to Obtain GIAC GSNA Certification

The road to achieving a GIAC Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA) certification is both challenging and rewarding. As cybersecurity continues to be a critical concern for organizations worldwide, professionals armed with the right credentials are in high demand. Here is a step-by-step guide to obtain your GSNA certification, ensuring you're prepared to meet the challenges of today's IT security landscape.

Step 1: Understandng the Prerequisites

Before you embark on your journey to GSNA certification, it’s vital to understand the prerequisites. GSNA certification requires a solid foundation in information security principles and practices. Familiarity with systems and network auditing is also beneficial. Ensure you meet these requirements to maximize your learning and success in the certification process.

Step 2: Registering for the Exam

Registration is your first active step towards certification. You can register for the GSNA exam through the official GIAC website. Early registration can often save you money, and scheduling when you feel most prepared can help alleviate test anxiety.

Step 3: Understanding the Open Book Exam Nature

The GSNA exam is open book, but don't be misled—this doesn't make it easy. The exam is designed to test your ability to quickly locate and apply information. This means you’ll need thorough knowledge of the materials and an efficient system to find information quickly during the exam.

Step 4: Creating an Index in the SANS Book

Creating a well-organized index for your SANS book is crucial. This index will be your roadmap during the exam, allowing you to navigate the open book efficiently. Highlight key concepts, terms, and procedures that are likely to be part of the exam.

Step 5: Taking Up Official Training

Although not mandatory, enrolling in official training can significantly enhance your understanding and readiness for the exam. SANS offers various training formats, including live classes and online courses, tailored to fit different learning styles and schedules.

Step 6: Taking Practice Tests

Practice tests are invaluable in preparing for the GSNA exam. They not only familiarize you with the format and types of questions you'll encounter but also highlight areas where you may need further study. Regular practice can boost your confidence and improve your test performance.

Step 7: Acquiring Practical Experience

Practical experience is critical. Try to gain hands-on experience in systems and network auditing. This real-world experience will provide deeper insights and a practical understanding of the concepts covered in the GSNA curriculum.

Step 8: Joining Online Communities

Online communities can be a great source of support and knowledge. Join forums and social media groups focused on GSNA certification and cybersecurity. These platforms allow you to connect with peers, share resources, and find answers to common challenges.

Step 9: Avoiding Exam Dumps

While it may be tempting, avoid using exam dumps. They are often illegal, violate GIAC’s ethical standards, and do not provide the depth of knowledge needed to truly succeed in your role as a systems and network auditor.

Step 10: Taking the Exam

When you feel prepared, it’s time to take the exam. Make sure to manage your time effectively and utilize your indexed book and study materials efficiently to navigate through exam questions.

Benefits of GIAC Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA) Certification

Earning your GSNA certification brings numerous benefits. It not only enhances your credibility and marketability as a security professional but also equips you with the latest skills and knowledge to protect organizations against complex security threats. Here are a few benefits of earning GIAC Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA) Certification:

GSNA Certification Enhances Knowledge and Skills in Systems and Network Security

The GSNA certification provides a comprehensive foundation in systems and network security, covering essential topics such as security principles, best practices, and current technologies. Candidates who achieve this certification gain a deep understanding of how to conduct detailed audits, identify vulnerabilities, and implement security measures effectively. This not only broadens their technical skillset but also prepares them for complex security challenges that organizations face today.

Recognition as a Qualified Security Professional

Holding a GSNA certification positions IT professionals as credible and knowledgeable experts in the field of network security audit. This recognition is crucial for career advancement, as it distinguishes certified individuals in a competitive job market. Employers often prefer candidates with recognized certifications, as these credentials validate the professional’s ability to handle specialized roles and responsibilities with competence and confidence.

Increased Career Opportunities and Advancement

The GSNA certification opens doors to numerous career opportunities, particularly in sectors where security is paramount, such as finance, healthcare, government, and technology. Certified professionals can expect roles such as Systems Auditor, Network Auditor, Security Analyst, Information Assurance Officer, and many more. Furthermore, the certification paves the way for higher positions and roles, including managerial and consultancy roles, significantly accelerating career growth.

Higher Earning Potential

Certifications like the GSNA often lead to higher earning potential. According to industry surveys and employment data, professionals with the GSNA certification tend to earn more than their non-certified counterparts. This is due to the high demand for skilled auditors who can ensure the integrity and security of systems and networks, which are critical assets for any organization.


Starting with a clear understanding of prerequisites and culminating in the proud achievement of certification, your journey towards becoming a GSNA certified auditor is a testament to your commitment to excellence in cybersecurity. Remember, the key to success in this certification lies not just in passing the exam, but in truly understanding and being able to apply the knowledge in real-world scenarios. Equip yourself with the right tools, engage actively with the community, and stay updated with ongoing learning and practical experiences. Your GSNA certification is not just a badge of honor—it’s your entry into a community dedicated to safeguarding the digital world.

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