SEC501: Advanced Security Essentials - Enterprise Defender

GIAC Certified Enterprise Defender (GCED)
GIAC Certified Enterprise Defender (GCED)
  • In Person (6 days)
  • Online
38 CPEs

Cyber reskilling and upskilling are significant concerns for enterprises both large and small. Technologists must have a broad range of knowledge and certain basic skills in multiple areas. Every member of a security team, increasingly extended into Information Technology and DevOps, must prepare to ensure that any system, software, or infrastructure that is coded, built, and deployed is resilient to attack. Team members must have the knowledge necessary to identify the adversaries in their midst, which requires knowledge of the adversaries' tactics, techniques, and procedures, as well as familiarity with real-world tools that reveal their activities within the enterprise. Adversaries must be contained when uncovered-controlling their lateral movement and limiting the extent of their infiltration minimizes the risks of disclosure, alteration, and destruction of mission-critical enterprise data. Critically, having all hands on deck is key to eradicating the adversary, remediating compromised systems, and recovering lost assets. Prevent. Detect. Respond.

What You Will Learn

The experience of continuous adversary activity, of increasing magnitude, leading to frequent attacks, and the inevitable compromise which too often results in data loss and leakage. Enterprises must have cross-trained professionals fully prepared to contribute meaningfully to CERT/CSIRT activities when required. Experienced technologists who are exploring cyber career pathways and looking for hands-on practical experience with cutting-edge tools of the trade will find what they need in SEC501: Advanced Security Essentials-Enterprise Defender. It is the only SANS course that provides training across cybersecurity sub-disciplines in the tools and techniques used daily to defend the enterprise. Full-day course topics cover defending network architecture, penetration testing, security operations, DFIR/CERT/CSIRT, and malware analysis. Twenty five labs, conducted in-class, provide hands-on experience with real-world tools (e.g., Cisco routers, Covenant, Metasploit, Nessus, Nmap, Procmon, Snort, SOF-ELK, TShark, Wireshark, etc.) in each of these areas, demonstrating:

  • active defense
  • attacks against network devices (and defenses)
  • digital artifact collection
  • forensic data recovery
  • interactive behavioral analysis of malware
  • intrusion detection and Snort signature creation
  • log aggregation and correlation
  • manual code reversing
  • network forensics
  • network scanning and enumeration
  • packet and protocol analysis
  • password cracking
  • super timeline analysis
  • system exploitation and post-expolitation pivoting
  • vulnerability assessment
  • web application scanning and attacks

and more.

In SEC501: Advanced Security Essentials-Enterprise Defender you will

  • Delve into the secrets of how Ransomware operates and what it needs to function, then find the data needed to defeat it by deceiving it into believing you have met its demands.
  • Launch real-time attacks against network devices by compromising authentication, redundancy, routing protocols, and encrypted credentials, then hardening devices against these same attacks and validating that they fail.
  • Discover and compromise systems, enumerate accounts, steal credentials, and discover, identify, attack, compromise, and pivot to other systems on the target network using exploitation tools and frameworks exactly as your adversary would do.
  • Detect vulnerabilities with sniffers, scanners, and proxies, giving you the opportunity to remediate the weaknesses in your systems before the attack begins.
  • Directly consume threat intelligence, identifying signatures of nascent attacks in packets captured from your network and creating and testing new rules for your Network Intrusion Detection System.

Business Takeaways

This course will help your organization:

  • Reskill and upskill technologists to substantially contribute to enterprise cybersecurity
  • Improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and success of cybersecurity initiatives
  • Build defensible networks that minimize the impact of attacks
  • Identify exposure points to ultimately prioritize and fix the vulnerabilities, increasing the organization's overall security
  • Detect the adversary, on premise and in the cloud, via monitoring and analysis of network activity, and correlation of activity across systems
  • Understand attack methods against systems, network devices, web applications

You Will Learn

  • Core components to build a defensible network infrastructure and properly secure your routers, switches, and other network infrastructure
  • Formal methods to perform vulnerability assessment and penetration testing to find weaknesses on your enterprise network
  • Analysis methods to detect advanced attacks against your network and indicators of compromise on deployed systems, including the forensically sound collection of artifacts and what you can learn from them
  • How to respond to an incident using a six-step process of incident response: Preparation, Identification, Containment, Eradication, Recovery, and Lessons Learned
  • Approaches to analyzing malware, ranging from fully automated techniques to the manual analysis of static properties, interactive behavior, and code reversing

You Will Be Able To

  • Identify network security threats against infrastructure and build defensible networks that minimize the impact of attacks via analysis of network device configurations and simulated attacks
  • Decode and analyze packets using various tools to identify anomalies and improve network defenses
  • Understand how the adversary compromises systems and how to respond to attacks using a six-step incident handling process
  • Perform penetration testing against an enterprise to determine vulnerabilities and points of compromise
  • Understand and utilize active defense techniques
  • Collect forensic artifacts detailing prior system activity, carve out deleted data from storage devices, analyze super timelines, and conduct network forensic analysis
  • Use various tools to identify and analyze malware across your enterprise

What You Will Receive

  • MP3 audio files of the complete course lecture
  • Course media with the course virtual machines

SEC501 Features 25 Labs That Will Show You How To

  • Build a defensible network architecture by auditing router configurations, launching successful attacks against them, hardening devices to withstand those same attacks, and using active defense tools to detect an attack and generate an alert
  • Perform detailed analysis of traffic using various sniffers and protocol analyzers, and automate attack detection by creating and testing new rules for detection systems
  • Identify and track attacks and anomalies in network packets using multiple technologies
  • Use SIEM for visualization and correlation of multi-system activity to identify and verify a data breach
  • Use various tools such as vulnerability scanning and network discovery to assess systems and web applications for known vulnerabilities, and exploit those vulnerabilities using penetration testing frameworks and toolsets
  • Collect digital artifacts and recover deleted data using digital forensic techniques, and analyze a supertimeline created from these artifacts to determine the vector of initial compromise
  • Apply network forensic analysis to contain a Ransomware outbreak, differentiating between systems only downloading the malware, and those which executed the malware
  • Find, identify, analyze, and clean up malware such as Ransomware using a variety of techniques, including monitoring the malware as it executes and manually reversing its code to discover its secrets

Here's What Students Say about SEC501

"This is the best technical training course I have ever taken. SEC501 exposed me to many valuable concepts and tools but also gave me a solid introduction to those tools so that I can continue to study and improve on my own." - Curt Smith, Hildago Medical Services

"SEC501 offers a great explanation of Net Defense best practices that often get overlooked." - Kirk G., U.S. Navy

"For an intensive and in-depth course, I found SEC501 to be extremely educational yet fun and entertaining." - Hisham Al-Muhareb, Saudi Aramco

Syllabus (38 CPEs)

Download PDF
  • Overview

    Proper design and configuration of network devices protects both the components being configured and the rest of the enterprise that depends on those devices to defend other components from attacks. In other words, a good house needs a good foundation!

    In this course section we will discuss published security benchmarks, vendor guidance to secure various products, and regulatory requirements and how they impact defending infrastructure against specific attacks. To illustrate these points, we will look in detail at securing and defending a router infrastructure against a number of device- and network-based attacks. Securing private and public cloud infrastructure against common attacks will also be discussed.

    • Initial Router Configuration and Audit
    • Securing AAA
    • Securing Redundancy Protocols
    • Log Infrastructure in Defense
    • Defending Routing Protocols
    • Final Router Hardening Steps/Audit

    • Security Standards and Audit
    • Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting
    • Defending Network Infrastructure
    • Name Resolution Attacks and Defense
    • Securing and Defending Private and Public Cloud Infrastructure
  • Overview

    Security is all about understanding, mitigating, and controlling the risk to an enterprise's critical assets. An enterprise must understand the changing threat landscape and have the capacity to compare it against its own vulnerabilities that could be exploited to compromise the environment. This course section will present the variety of tests that can be run against an enterprise, and show how to perform effective penetration tests to better understand the security posture for network services, operating systems, and applications. In addition, we will talk about social engineering and open-source intelligence activities to better emulate increasingly prevalent threats to users.

    Finding basic vulnerabilities is easy but not necessarily effective if these are not the vulnerabilities attackers exploit to break into a system. Advanced penetration testing involves understanding the variety of systems and applications on a network and how they can be compromised by an attacker. Students will learn to scope and plan their test projects, perform external and internal network penetration testing and web application testing, and pivot through the environment like real-world attackers. And while penetration testing is critical to identify an enterprise's exposure points, students will also learn how to prioritize and fix these vulnerabilities to increase the enterprise's overall security.

    • Network Scanning Fundamentals
    • Scanning with Nessus
    • Exploitation and Metasploit Basics
    • Post-Exploitation and Pivoting
    • Basic Web App Scans and Attacks
    • Penetration Testing Scoping and Rules of Engagement
    • Open-Source Intelligence
    • Social Engineering
    • Network Mapping and Scanning Techniques
    • Enterprise Vulnerability Scanning
    • Network Exploitation Tools and Techniques
    • Post-Exploitation and Pivoting
    • Web Application Exploitation Tools and Techniques
    • Reporting and Debriefing
  • Overview

    Traffic analysis and intrusion detection used to be treated as a separate discipline within many enterprises. Today, prevention, detection, and response must be closely knit, so that once an attack is detected, defensive measures can be adapted and proactive forensics implemented so the enterprise can continue to operate. This course section will start with a brief introduction to network security monitoring, followed by a refresher on network protocols, with an emphasis on fields to look for as security professionals. We will use tools such as tcpdump and Wireshark to analyze packet traces and look for indicators of attacks. We will also use a variety of detection and analysis tools as well as explore Snort as a Network Intrusion Detection System and examine rule signatures in-depth., Students will also conduct network forensics, and make use of the SOF-ELK platform to demonstrate the power of Security Information and Event Management tools.

    • Analyzing PCAPs with tcpdump
    • Attack Analysis with Wireshark
    • Snort Basics
    • Detecting Malicious Activity with Security Onion
    • Security Analytics with SOF-ELK
    • Network Security Monitoring
    • Advanced Packet Analysis
    • Network Intrusion Detection/Prevention
    • Writing Signatures for Detection
    • Network Forensics and More
    • Event Management Introduction
    • Continuous Monitoring
    • Logging and Event Collection and Analysis
    • SIEM and Analytics
  • Overview

    Enterprises rely on their CERT/CSIRT to find, scope, contain, and eradicate evil from their networks. Incident investigators employ DFIR practices to determine what happened: DFIR teams conduct investigations to find evidence of compromise, remediate the environment, and provide data to generate local threat intelligence for operations teams in order to continuously improve detection. While traditionally seen as a finite process, incident response is now viewed as ongoing, with DFIR professionals searching for evidence of an attacker that has existed in the environment without detection by applying new threat intelligence to existing evidence. This is the crux of the concept known as "threat hunting."

    This section begins with a discussion of Active Defense approaches in some detail, then presents the core concepts of DFIR. We will explore some of the hundreds of artifacts that can give forensic investigators specific insight about what occurred during an incident. Students will learn how incident response currently operates, after years of evolving, in order to address the dynamic procedures used by attackers to conduct their operations. We will also look at how to integrate DFIR practices into a continuous security operations program. Next, a cyclical, six-step incident response process is presented. Each step will be examined in detail, including practical examples of how to apply it. Finally, students will learn about the artifacts that can best be used to determine the extent of suspicious activity within a given environment and how to migrate techniques to a large data set for enterprise-level analysis.

    • Active Defense: Honeyports
    • Data Recovery with FTK Imager and Photorec
    • Discovering Artifacts
    • Ransomware Timeline Analysis of Ransomware
    • Ransomware Network Analysis of Ransomware
    • Active Defense
    • DFIR Core Concepts: Digital Forensics
    • DFIR Core Concepts: Incident Response
    • Modern Digital Forensics & Incident Response
    • Widening the Net: Scaling and Scoping
  • Overview

    Malicious software is responsible for many incidents in almost every type of enterprise. Types of malware vary widely, from Ransomware and Rootkits to Crypto Currency Miners and Worms. In this course section, we will define each of the most popular types of malware and walk through multiple examples. The four primary phases of malware analysis will be covered: Fully Automated Analysis, Static Properties Analysis, Interactive Behavior Analysis, and Manual Code Reversing. Students will complete various in-depth labs requiring them to fully dissect a live Ransomware specimen from static analysis through code analysis. They will also gain hands-on experience with manipulating the malware through behavior analysis techniques, and in decrypting files encrypted by Ransomware by extracting the keys through reverse engineering. All steps are well defined and tested to ensure that the process to achieve these goals is actionable and digestible.

    • Static Properties Analysis of Ransomware
    • Interactive Behavior Analysis of Ransomware - Part I
    • Interactive Behavior Analysis of Ransomware - Part II
    • Manual Code Reversing of Ransomware
    • Introduction to Malware Analysis
    • Malware Analysis Stages: Fully Automated and Static Properties Analysis
    • Malware Analysis Stages: Interactive Behavior Analysis
    • Malware Analysis Stages: Manual Code Reversing
  • Overview

    This final course section will serve as a real-world challenge for students by requiring them to work in teams, use the skills they have learned throughout the course, think outside the box, and solve a range of problems from simple to complex. A web server scoring system and Capture-the-Flag engine will be provided to score students as they submit flags to score points. More difficult challenges will be worth more points. In this defensive exercise, challenges include packet analysis, malware analysis, and other challenges related to the course material.

GIAC Certified Enterprise Defender

The GIAC Certified Enterprise Defender (GCED) certification builds on the security skills measured by the GIAC Security Essentials certification. It assesses more advanced, technical skills that are needed to defend the enterprise environment and protect an organization as a whole. GCED certification holders have validated knowledge and abilities in the areas of defensive network infrastructure, packet analysis, penetration testing, incident handling and malware removal.

  • Network and cloud-based defensive infrastructure
  • Penetration testing; Digital forensics; Incident response
  • Network monitoring, forensics, and logging
  • Packet analysis; Intrusion analysis; Malware analysis
More Certification Details


While not required, it is recommended that students take SANS's SEC401: Security Essentials: Network, Endpoint, and Cloud course or have the skills taught in that class.

Laptop Requirements

Important! Bring your own system configured according to these instructions.

A properly configured system is required to fully participate in this course. If you do not carefully read and follow these instructions, you will not be able to fully participate in hands-on exercises in your course. Therefore, please arrive with a system meeting all of the specified requirements.

Back up your system before class. Better yet, use a system without any sensitive/critical data. SANS is not responsible for your system or data.

  • CPU: 64-bit Intel i5/i7 (8th generation or newer), or AMD equivalent. A x64 bit, 2.0+ GHz or newer processor is mandatory for this class.
  • CRITICAL: Apple Silicon devices cannot perform the necessary virtualization and therefore cannot in any way be used for this course.
  • BIOS settings must be set to enable virtualization technology, such as "Intel-VTx" or "AMD-V" extensions. Be absolutely certain you can access your BIOS if it is password protected, in case changes are necessary.
  • 16GB of RAM or more is required.
  • 125GB of free storage space or more is required.
  • At least one available USB 3.0 Type-A port. A Type-C to Type-A adapter may be necessary for newer laptops. Some endpoint protection software prevents the use of USB devices, so test your system with a USB drive before class.
  • Wireless networking (802.11 standard) is required. There is no wired Internet access in the classroom.
  • Your host operating system must be the latest version of Windows 10, Windows 11, or macOS 10.15.x or newer.
  • Fully update your host operating system prior to the class to ensure you have the right drivers and patches installed.
  • Linux hosts are not supported in the classroom due to their numerous variations. If you choose to use Linux as your host, you are solely responsible for configuring it to work with the course materials and/or VMs.
  • Local Administrator Access is required. (Yes, this is absolutely required. Don't let your IT team tell you otherwise.) If your company will not permit this access for the duration of the course, then you should make arrangements to bring a different laptop.
  • You should ensure that antivirus or endpoint protection software is disabled, fully removed, or that you have the administrative privileges to do so. Many of our courses require full administrative access to the operating system and these products can prevent you from accomplishing the labs.
  • Any filtering of egress traffic may prevent accomplishing the labs in the course. Firewalls should be disabled or you must have the administrative privileges to disable them.
  • Download and install VMware Workstation Pro 16.2.X+ (for Windows 10 hosts), VMware Workstation Pro 17.0.0+ (for Windows 11 hosts), or VMWare Fusion Pro 12.2+ (for macOS hosts) prior to the start of the class. If you do not own a licensed copy of VMware Workstation Pro or VMware Fusion Pro, you can download a free 30-day trial copy from VMware. VMware will send you a time-limited serial number if you register for the trial on its website. This course requires a "Pro" version of VMware software. The "Player" versions are not sufficient.
  • On Windows hosts, VMware products might not coexist with the Hyper-V hypervisor. For the best experience, ensure that VMware can boot a virtual machine. This may require disabling Hyper-V. Instructions for disabling Hyper-V, Device Guard, and Credential Guard are contained in the setup documentation that accompanies your course materials.
  • Download and install 7-Zip (for Windows Hosts) or Keka (for macOS hosts). These tools are also included in your downloaded course materials.

Your course media are delivered via download. The media files for class can be large. Many are in the 40-50GB range, with some over 100GB. You need to allow plenty of time for the download to complete. Internet connections and speed vary greatly and are dependent on many different factors. Therefore, it is not possible to give an estimate of the length of time it will take to download your materials. Please start your course media downloads as soon as you get the link. You will need your course media immediately on the first day of class. Do not wait until the night before class to start downloading these files.

Your course materials include a "Setup Instructions" document that details important steps you must take before you travel to a live class event or start an online class. It may take 30 minutes or more to complete these instructions.

Your class uses an electronic workbook for its lab instructions. In this new environment, a second monitor and/or a tablet device can be useful for keeping class materials visible while you are working on course labs.

If you have additional questions about the laptop specifications, please contact support.

Author Statement

"My introduction to cybersecurity began in the early 1990s as a neuroscience Ph.D. student on the day after our lab was the victim of a cyber attack. That's when I discovered that our UNIX workstations had known vulnerabilities for which patches had to be downloaded and installed. Entirely self-taught, I learned to patch and rebuild kernels and compile, deploy, configure, and use tools like Tripwire, SATAN, and TCP Wrappers. Later, as a full-time enterprise administrator, I learned about switches, routers, and firewalls; RSA SecurID, IPSec VPN, and proxy gateways; hardening Windows endpoints; automating the auditing of Active Directory and the dynamic population of security groups; administering Nexpose; and wrangling IPTables. My own multifaceted technology background makes me particularly enthusiastic about being the lead author for SEC501. The course reflects my own experience as a jack of all trades and provides the perfect opportunity to share that excitement with you!"

- Ross Bergman


A must for cyber security professionals!
Gary Oakley
The disciplines/skills taught in SEC501 were exactly what my career and team needed to mature our SOC. Bryce Galbraith was an amazing, extremely knowledgeable instructor who kept all of the material interesting and fun,
John Barrow
Caesars Entertainment Corporation
This is the best technical training course I have ever taken. SEC501 exposed me to many valuable concepts and tools but also gave me a solid introduction to those tools so that I can continue to study and improve on my own.
Curt Smith
Hildago Medical Services
I would recommend SEC501 as a strong foundation to any security practitioner role. It is broad but assumes a reasonable level of technical proficiency that is refreshing.
Karl King
Vodafone UK
SEC501 offers a great explanation of Net Defense best practices that often get overlooked.
Kirk G.
US Military

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