GIAC Certified Windows Security Administrator (GCWN) icon

GIAC Certified Windows Security Administrator (GCWN)

Practitioner Certification

The GIAC Certified Windows System Administrator (GCWN) certification validates a practitioner's ability to secure Microsoft Windows clients and servers. GCWN certification holders have the knowledge and skills needed to configure and manage the security of Microsoft operating systems and applications, including: PKI, Group Policy, AppLocker, PowerShell, and hardening Windows against malware and persistent adversaries.

Areas Covered

  • Securing PowerShell
  • Zero Trust multifactor authentication
  • Windows endpoint protection
  • Operating system and application hardening
  • PKI management
  • Restricting administrative compromise

Who is GCWN for?

  • Individuals responsible for installing, configuring, & securing Microsoft Windows clients & servers
  • Windows endpoint and server administrators
  • Practitioners who want to validate PowerShell automation skills
  • Practitioners implementing the CIS Critical Security Controls
  • USA military and government cyber defenders
  • Blue teamers

Exam Format

  • 1 proctored exam
  • 75 questions
  • 2 hours
  • Minimum passing score of 66%

Note: GIAC reserves the right to change the specifications for each certification without notice. Based on a scientific passing point study, the passing point for the GCWN exam has been determined to be 66% for all candidates receiving access to their certification attempts on or after October 26th, 2012. To verify the format and passing point of your specific certification attempt, read the Certification Information found in your account at


NOTE: All GIAC Certification exams are web-based and required to be proctored. There are two proctoring options: remote proctoring through ProctorU, and onsite proctoring through PearsonVUE. Click here for more information.

GIAC certification attempts will be activated in your GIAC account after your application has been approved and according to the terms of your purchase. Details on delivery will be provided along with your registration confirmation upon payment. You will receive an email notification when your certification attempt has been activated in your account. You will have 120 days from the date of activation to complete your certification attempt.

Exam Certification Objectives & Outcome Statements

  • Active Directory and WMI Scripting
    The candidate will be able to use PowerShell and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) to query and manage Active Directory, Group Policy Objects, Local Users and Groups, and Active Directory permissions.
  • Endpoint and PowerShell Security
    The candidate will be able to secure PowerShell and Windows endpoints against ransomware and other malware using PowerShell hardening, AppLocker, Credential Guard, Group Policy preferences, Windows privileges, and PowerShell logging.
  • Hardening Services and Features
    The candidate will be able to use PowerShell to harden and manage Windows roles and features, Windows Firewall rules, IPsec zero trust policies, audit policies, and event logging.
  • PowerShell Fundamentals
    The candidate will demonstrate familiarity with PowerShell's use of objects, properties, methods, arrays, flow control, and how to write basic PowerShell functions and scripts.
  • PowerShell Remote Command Execution
    The candidate will be able to securely configure and use PowerShell Remoting, OpenSSH for WIndows, Just Enough Admin (JEA), Group Policy, and the Task Scheduler for remote command execution.
  • Windows Certificate Services
    The candidate will be able to implement a Windows Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and manage certificates used for multi-factor authentication, smart cards/tokens, data encryption, and digital signatures.

Other Resources

  • Training is available in a variety of modalities including live training and OnDemand
  • Practical work experience can help ensure that you have mastered the skills necessary for certification
  • College level courses or self paced study through another program or materials may meet the needs for mastery.
  • Get information about the procedure to contest exam results.

Practice Tests

  • These tests are a simulation of the real exam allowing you to become familiar with the test engine and style of questions.
  • Practice exams are a gauge to determine if your preparation methods are sufficient.
  • The practice bank questions are limited so you may encounter the same question on practice tests when multiple practice tests are purchased.
  • Practice exams never include actual exam questions.
  • Purchase a GCWN practice test here.
  • GIAC recommends leveraging additional study methods for test preparation.

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