The GIAC Experienced Penetration Tester (GX-PT) certification is the latest exam offering in the Applied Knowledge certification lineup. This certification is designed for experienced penetration testers to demonstrate their ability to accomplish a wide variety of hands-on penetration testing related tasks in a time-sensitive and unfamiliar environment. The exam encompasses a wide spectrum of skills honed outside of the classroom and acquired through practical application of testing principles in real-world IT environments. The exam’s certification objectives span the technical facets of the penetration testing phases and encompasses reconnaissance, network scanning, exploitation, and post-exploitation scenarios. Candidates are expected to demonstrate their ability to perform attacks from initial access through data exfiltration and persistence within the context of real-world environments.
The GX-PT is a CyberLive certification and shows employers and colleagues that the holder is capable of being a technical leader for red and purple team penetration test exercises. It combines the enterprise red team skills validated with the GPEN certification with a focus on advanced, hands-on concepts. The volume of concepts tested highlights a successful candidate’s ability to perform difficult tasks in a short amount of time. This is not a certification that can be attained by knowing the concepts at a surface level. Real-world experience is a must to successfully navigate the scenarios posed on the exam. Unprepared and inexperienced candidates will struggle. The fully immersive hands-on CyberLive exam shows that candidates not only grasp the concepts but can effectively apply them to solve complex problems.
Just like in the real world, the GX-PT challenges candidates to solve highly technical scenarios from various environments using a wide range of available tools. The candidate may be dropped into a Linux host to troubleshoot a network access issue or eavesdrop on network traffic or a Windows host to exploit a domain controller to escalate privileges and exfiltrate data. The ideal GX-PT candidate will have the skills and knowledge of concepts and tools to succeed in any of these diverse, real-world environments. In some cases, the scenarios are designed to be solved in multiple ways. The exam is designed to have one correct answer for each item, but the path to that answer could differ between candidates depending on their skillset or comfort level with certain tools. The exam allows the candidate to exercise their creativity in problem solving.
The GX-PT is GIAC’s fifth Applied Knowledge certification. Its addition provides even greater flexibility for candidates pursuing their GIAC Security Expert (GSE) or GIAC Security Professional (GSP) certification. Each certification earned is added to your GIAC portfolio, marking your progress to GSP or GSE certification. To learn more about the GSP and GSE requirements, be sure and check out this blog post.
Drawing from my experience integrating and testing security solutions for Department of Defense (DoD) systems, it’s clear to me that the penetration testers who excel in pivoting between complex issues, gather information quickly, and display deep understanding of their target environments are the most highly valued. The GX-PT certification proves these qualities in candidates. Passing this exam demands a level of knowledge that extends beyond the classroom.
Having personal involvement in interviewing and hiring candidates for information security roles, it’s clear to me the GX-PT certification speaks for itself to prospective employers. It highlights candidates who possess the qualities of technical expertise in multiple penetration testing objectives. Additionally, the GX-PT serves as a valuable self-assessment tool for candidates to identify gaps in their capability and knowledge of some penetration testing objectives. This, in turn, can aid candidates in their career path by directing them towards continued learning objectives.
In conclusion, the GX-PT isn’t just another certification. It’s an essential milestone for seasoned penetration testers to elevate their capability beyond practitioner-level certifications. It is an ideal choice for those aspiring to expand their careers as penetration testers and those looking to demonstrate their capabilities as technical leads for red and purple penetration testing teams.
Interested in learning more about taking the GX-PT certification? Visit the GX-PT Certification page here.