GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst, also known as GCIA, is a highly respected and widely-recognized intrusion analyst certification. The GIAC GCIA certification exam is designed to evaluate a professional's knowledge and skills in network security and intrusion analysis.
But what exactly is the GCIA certification exam, and what jobs can you take? In this article, we'll provide you with everything you need to know about the GCIA certification exam, including the career opportunities, exam format, and topics covered.
What is the GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA) certification?
The GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA) certification is a vendor-neutral credential that validates an individual's knowledge and skills in intrusion detection and analysis. The GIAC GCIA certification holders possess the skills to configure and monitor intrusion detection systems and read, interpret, and analyze network traffic and log files.
To earn the GIAC GCIA certification, you must pass a proctored exam covering various exam objectives such as network traffic analysis, signature creation, log analysis, and incident handling. The GIAC GCIA exam has 106 multiple-choice questions. The time duration for the GCIA certification exam is four hours. To pass the GCIA exam, you must score 67% or higher.
Here are the areas covered in the GCIA exam:
- Fundamentals of traffic analysis and application protocols
- Open-source IDS: Snort and Zeek
- Network traffic forensics and monitoring
Who can take the GCIA certification?
- Practitioners responsible for intrusion detection
- System analysts
- Security analysts
- Network engineers
- Network administrators
- Hands-on security managers
GCIA certification exam objectives and outcome statements
Advanced IDS concepts
Candidates will demonstrate a thorough understanding of IDS tuning methods and correlation issues.
Candidates will demonstrate knowledge and skill in dissecting and analyzing application layer protocols.
Concepts of TCP/IP and the link layer
Candidates will thoroughly understand TCP/IP communications and link layer operations.
Candidates will demonstrate an understanding of fragmentation and identify fragmentation-based attacks in packet captures.
IDS fundamentals and network architecture
Candidates will demonstrate a basic understanding of IDS concepts, like network architecture and the benefits/weaknesses of common IDS systems.
Intrusion detection system rules
Candidates will create effective IDS rules to detect various malicious activities.
Candidates will dissect IP packet headers and analyze them for abnormalities that could indicate security problems.
Candidates will demonstrate knowledge of IPv6 and how it differs from IPv4.
Network forensics and traffic analysis
Candidates will demonstrate their ability to analyze data from multiple sources (e.g., packet capture, NetFlow, log files) to identify normal and malicious behavior.
Candidates will demonstrate knowledge of packet manipulation and crafting.
SiLK and other traffic analysis tools
Candidates will demonstrate an understanding of SiLK and other tools to perform network traffic and flow analysis.
Candidates will demonstrate a solid understanding of the TCP protocol and the ability to discern typical and anomalous behavior.
Candidates will demonstrate their ability to build tcpdump filters based on given criteria.
UDP and ICMP
Candidates will demonstrate their knowledge of UDP and ICMP protocols and their ability to distinguish typical from anomalous behavior.
Candidates will demonstrate the ability to use Wireshark to analyze typical and malicious network traffic.
GCIA certification exam syllabus
SEC503.1: Network Monitoring and Analysis: Part I
This section introduces the TCP/IP stack to more effectively monitor and find threats in your cloud or traditional infrastructure. "Packets as a Second Language" is the first step in the course. As soon as the importance of collecting zero-day and other attack packets is established, students dive into low-level packet analysis to identify threats. In this section, you'll learn about the TCP/IP communication model, bits, bytes, binary and hexadecimal. In addition, it explains every IP header field and how it works.
- Concepts of TCP/IP
- Introduction to Wireshark
- Network Access/Link Layer: Layer 2
- IP Layer: Layer 3
- UNIX Command Line Processing
SEC503.2: Network Monitoring and Analysis: Part II
This section wraps up the packets as a second language portion of the course and lays the groundwork for more in-depth discussions. In this course, students will learn about the primary transport layer protocols used in the TCP/IP model and the modern trends that are changing how these protocols are used. To help you analyze your own traffic, this section explores two essential tools, Wireshark and tcpdump, using advanced features. Using Wireshark display filters and tcpdump Berkeley Packet Filters, large-scale data is filtered down to traffic of interest for identifying threats in traditional and cloud-based infrastructures. The TCP/IP transport layers, including TCP, UDP, and ICMP, will also be examined in this context. Several innovations with serious implications for modern network monitoring will be discussed, along with the meaning and function of every header field.
- Wireshark Display Filters
- Writing BPF Filters
- Real-world application: Researching a network
SEC503.3: Signature-Based Threat Detection and Response
The third section of the course builds upon the foundation of the first two sections, focusing on application layer protocols. By applying this knowledge, you will explore the state-of-the-art mechanisms for threat detection in the cloud, on endpoints, hybrid networks, and traditional infrastructures. During this course, students learn about Scapy, a powerful Python-based packet crafting tool that allows them to manipulate, create, read, and write packets. With Scapy, you can develop packets to test monitoring tools or next-generation firewall detection capabilities. This is especially important when a newly announced vulnerability is added to a user-created network monitoring rule. The course includes a variety of practical scenarios and uses for Scapy.
- Advanced Wireshark
- Introduction to Snort/Suricata
- Effective Snort/Suricata
- Microsoft Protocols
- Modern HTTP
- How to Research a Protocol
- Real-world Application: Identifying Traffic of Interest
SEC503.4: Building Zero-Day Threat Detection Systems
Section 4 provides an in-depth discussion of modern and future network intrusion detection systems based on the fundamental knowledge gained in the first three sections. Students will now synthesize everything they have learned and apply it to a design of threat detection capabilities that surpass Snort/FirePower/Suricata and next-generation firewalls by using advanced behavioral detection (Zeek) and next-generation firewalls.
- Network Architecture
- Introduction to Network Monitoring at Scale
- IDS/IPS Evasion Theory
SEC503.5: Large-Scale Threat Detection, Forensics, and Analytics
This section continues the trend of giving less formal instruction and providing more hands-on practice. Three major areas are covered in this section, beginning with data-driven, large-scale analysis and collection using NetFlow and IPFIX. Using the protocols developed in the first sections of the course, NetFlow becomes a powerful tool for performing threat hunting in both cloud and traditional infrastructure. After covering the fundamentals, students will build custom NetFlow queries and use them to analyze more advanced data. The second area introduces traffic analytics as a continuation of the large-scale analysis theme. After learning various tools and techniques for hunting zero-day threats at the network level, students can practice them in hands-on exercises. In addition, you will discuss and demonstrate cutting-edge techniques for detecting anomalies using artificial intelligence and machine learning. In the final area, you will explore network forensics and incident reconstruction. Through hands-on exercises, students apply all the tools and techniques they have learned throughout the course to three detailed incidents.
- Using Network Flow Records
- Threat Hunting and Visualization
- Introduction to Network Forensic Analysis
SEC503.6: Advanced Network Monitoring and Threat Detection Capstone
During the final section of the GCIA certification exam course, you can perform a hands-on server-based network monitoring and threat detection capstone that will challenge and engage you. In this course, students answer numerous questions requiring the use of the tools and theory covered in the course, either alone or in teams. The challenge is based on six real-life data sets in a time-sensitive incident investigation. It is designed as a "ride-along" event, where students answer questions based on analyzing the same data a team of professionals conducted.
The bottom line
If you wish to establish a career in intrusion detection, the GCIA certification is undoubtedly a well-known and highly-respected certification. By passing the GCIA exam, you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in intrusion detection and analysis, making you an in-demand security professional.
So if you're ready to take the GIAC GCIA certification, CBT Proxy can help you pass the exam on your first attempt. To learn more about the GCIA exam, click the chat button below, and one of our guides will contact you accordingly.