Profile From the Front Line - Paul W of NGSSoftware Ltd.
I first became involved with SANS and GIAC when I saw that Microsofts website recommended them for IT security training in December 2001. I was working for LINN Products in Glasgow, Scotland at the time as an IIS Admin/Oracle developer. My focus was on the Web so security was (and still is) a big issue. So I followed Microsofts link to the SANS/GIAC Reading Room full of past GIAC papers and have not left it since. The quality of the peer reviewed, publicly viewable papers on bleeding edge security issues was very high as they were written by practising security professionals.
Since then I have Attended, Volunteered, Proctored and presented at Eight SANS conferences and have GSEC, GCIH and GCFW. The GCFW paper was hard but I did a good job and the result was a job offer from Pentest Ltd. The offer came as a direct result of volunteering for the Forensics Track at SANS, London 2004. The GCFW practical paper I had just completed, helped Pentest Ltd to make an initial assessment of my skill level and I have now completed six months successfully developing their Oracle Security Software. After the GCFW I then took and passed, the GCFA forensics practical specialised on Oracle Forensics as well as the GTHQ. This has propelled me along with my experience at Pentest Ltd to a new role at NGSSoftware in London. NGSSoftware are incredibly innovative and a World class organisation dealing with the most prestigious names in the field, just like SANS and GIAC.
This process would not have been possible via the multiple choice exams that many IT companies choose to use. There is no cheat sheet for a GIAC paper, it really does mean something if you pass it. I can also link to it in my CV and Google gives it a very high ranking. Not only did writing the practical paper help me learn but it has helped me improve my job and enabled me to contribute to the SANS/GIAC community which I learnt from initially.
GIAC is the only IT certification I have seen that is so closely linked to commercial practise. I would not be too surprised to see the open, peer reviewed, practical paper method of certification that GIAC use, spread to other industries in the future.