FOR528: Ransomware for Incident Responders

  • In Person (4 days)
  • Online
24 CPEs

Ransomware attackers have become more sophisticated, and their techniques constantly evolve. More than ever, organizations are at risk of losing their data and information to these attacks, which can lead to revenue losses, reputational damage, theft of employee time and productivity, and inability to function normally. The FOR528: Ransomware for Incident Responders course teaches how to deal with the specifics of ransomware, from initial detection to incident response and postmortem analysis. The class features a hands-on approach to learning by applying real-world data exercises to train students on how to prepare for, detect, hunt, respond to, and deal with the aftermath of ransomware.

What You Will Learn

Learning to thwart the threat of human-operated ransomware once and for all!

The term "Ransomware" no longer refers to a simple encryptor that locks down resources. The advent of Human-Operated Ransomware (HumOR) along with the evolution of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) have created an entire ecosystem that thrives on hands-on the keyboard, well-planned attack campaigns. It is a rapidly growing threat that has evolved from being a single machine infection following an ill-advised mouse click to becoming a booming enterprise capable of crippling large and small networks alike.

Organizations are at risk of losing their data and information to these attacks, which can lead to revenue losses, reputational damage, theft of employee time and productivity, and inability to function normally. It is now common to see these large-scale sophisticated attacks where the ransomware actors first establish persistence and execute tools on their target, then move laterally throughout the organization, ultimately exfiltrating data before deploying their ransomware payloads.

Even though payments to ransomware actors slowed down in 2022 as compared to previous years, that same year there were over 2,600 posts made to extortion sites related to ransomware. This number does not include an unknown quantity of incidents that were resolved through communication and/or negotiation behind the scenes prior to public notification. Of the reported incidents from 2022, the following are the top 10 sectors in terms of compromise*:

  • Construction
  • Hospital and Health Care
  • Government Administration
  • IT Services and IT Consulting
  • Law Practice
  • Automotive
  • Financial Services
  • Higher Education
  • Insurance
  • Real Estate

The FOR528: Ransomware for Incident Responders course teaches students how to deal with the specifics of ransomware to prepare for, detect, hunt, respond to, and deal with the aftermath of ransomware. The class features a hands-on approach to learning using real-world data and includes a full day Capture the Flag challenge to help students solidify their learning. The four-day class teaches students what artifacts to collect, how to collect them, how to scale out your collection efforts, how to parse the data, and how to review the parsed results in aggregate.

The course also provides in-depth details along with detection methods for each phase of the ransomware attack lifecycle. These phases include Initial Access, Execution, Defense Evasion, Persistence, Attacks on Active Directory, Privilege Escalation, Credential Access, Lateral Movement, Data Access, Data Exfiltration, and Payload Deployment.

Unfortunately, many businesses will find themselves falling victims to ransomware attacks because they feel they are not in danger. No matter if you are a small, medium, or large organization, every internet-connected network is at risk, and the threat is not going away any time soon.

The time to be proactive about ransomware is now!

*: Statistics from

The FOR528 Ransomware for Incident Responders In-Depth Course will help you understand:

  • How ransomware has evolved to become a major business
  • How human-operated ransomware (HumOR) operators have evolved into well-tuned attack teams
  • Who and what organizations are most at risk of becoming a ransomware victim
  • How ransomware operators get into their "victim's" environments
  • How best to prepare your organization against the threat of HumOR
  • How to identify the tools that HumOR operators often use to get into and perform post-exploitation activities during a ransomware attack
  • How to hunt for ransomware operators within your network
  • How to respond when ransomware is running actively within your environment
  • What steps to take following a ransomware attack
  • How to identify data access and exfiltration

Ransomware for Incident Responders Course Topics

  • Ransomware evolution and history
    • First-recognized ransomware attack
    • Human-Operated Ransomware (HumOR)
    • Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS)
  • Windows forensics artifacts critical to ransomware incident response, such as:

    • Windows Event Logs
    • Shellbags
    • Shimcache
    • System Resource Usage Monitor (SRUM)
    • Windows New Technology File System (NTFS) metadata analysis
    • Artifacts as denoted in the SANS Windows Forensic Analyis poster
  • Evidence Acquisition Tools and TechniquesParsing forensic artifacts
  • Ingesting parsed data into a SIEM
  • Analyzing SIEM/aggregator data via TimeSketch and Kibana
  • Initial Access
    • Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
    • Phishing
    • Software vulnerabilities
  • Execution and Defense Evasion
    • Threat actor tooling
    • Security tool bypass methods and scripts
    • Native execution methods
    • Scripting engine abuse and script deobfuscation
  • Persistence
    • C2 frameworks and Remote Monitoring Management
    • Post-exploitation frameworks
    • Native Windows persistence mechanisms
  • Active Directory Attacks
    • Overview of Active Directory and Kerberos
    • AD Enumeration
    • Kerberoasting
    • AS-REP Roasting
    • DCSync attacks
  • Privilege Escalation and Credential Access
    • Commonly targeted accounts and methods of access
    • User Account Control (UAC) bypass
    • LSASS and NTDS.dit attacks
  • Lateral Movement
    • RDP
    • SMB
    • WinRM
  • Data Access
    • Network share enumeration and access
    • File/folder access including deleted files
    • Registry analysis
  • Data exfiltration
    • Archive creation and data staging
    • Data exfiltration routes
  • Backup and Recovery tampering
  • Payload deployment
  • Encryption specifics including source code review
  • Decryptors
  • Cobalt Strike architecture, components, and payloads
  • Dealing with an active threat
    • Pre-encryption, during encryption, and post-encryption
  • Hunting methods and techniques

Business Takeaways

  • Bolster defenses by implementing preventative measures to stop ransomware actors from gaining access to your organization
  • Quickly detect when a ransomware actor has gained access to your environment and is leveraging tools common to the trade
  • Identify what ransomware attacks look like to help work out a plan for responding if it's detected on the network
  • Respond quickly through understanding where to focus your efforts given your unique environment
  • Identify which backups to use for restoration to ensure successful restoration while avoiding restoring threat access persistence within your environment.
  • Determine if an identified actor within your environment is affiliated with ransomware.
  • Identify what data may have been accessed, how, and when
  • Identify what data may have been exfiltrated by a ransomware actor

Hands-On Labs

SANS labs provide hands-on experience that reinforces course concepts and learning objectives. This course includes lab instructions with a step-by-step electronic workbook that's directly tied to the material to develop skills in a hands-on environment.

Lab 0: Virtual Machine Setup

Lab 1.1: Analysis of a RaaS Ecosystem (RAASNet)

Lab 1.2: Acquiring and Analyzing Artifacts

Lab 1.3: Analysis at Scale: TimeSketch

Lab 1.4: Analysis at Scale: Kibana

Lab 2.1: Hunting RDP Activity

Lab 2.2: Finding the Infection Vector

Lab 2.3: PowerShell Scripting: Foe, not Friend

Lab 2.4: Identifying Lateral Movement

Lab 3.1: Identifying Data Access & Exfil

Lab 3.2: Decoding Cobalt Strike Payloads

Lab 3.3: Detecting the TA's Toolbox

Day 4: FOR528 Capture The Flag Challenge

You Will Receive with This Course

  • Course-specific/custom Windows 10 Enterprise version of the SIFT Workstation Virtual Machine with free and open-source (FOSS) and freeware Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR) tools prebuilt into the environment

    • This VM includes KAPE-acquired Windows forensic artifacts from all 15 hosts that make up the target network range/environment
  • Course-specific/custom version of the Linux SIFT Workstation Virtual Machine

    • This VM includes both Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 data contained within an Elasticsearch instance accessible via both TimeSketch and Kibana
  • ISO image containing both VMs along with archival tools to aid in installation and setup
  • FOR528 exercise workbook with including detailed step-by-step instructions for all labs

Syllabus (24 CPEs)

Download PDF
  • Overview

    The Ransomware for Incident Responders course begins with a review of ransomeware's history. We begin with the story of the first-known ransomware attack and work our way to the current-day threats that loom above our industry. Our inner-connected lives, not to mention livelihoods, are at risk everyday thanks to the advent of Human Operated Ransomware (HumOR) and Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS). You will better your understanding of ransomware as we deep-dive into the roles, processes, communication methods, and activities related to these threats.

    After learning about the true threats we face and how we can apply IR practices in general, we begin our deep-dive into the Windows-based forensic artifacts best suited to ransomware campaign analysis. You'll learn which artifacts to collect along with which tools and methods are best suited to acquisition and parsing. Regardless of your organization's level of preparedness, we'll cover what you can do to obtain data that will facilitate analysis. You'll learn the hands-on approaches for direct acquisition against single machines and then transition to acquisition and analysis at-scale. Detailed hands-on labs walk you through analysis methods for each environment type. You'll use TimeSketch and Kibana to analyze parsed artifacts, ensuring that you recognize the easy wins and more advanced analysis practices to help you and your organization respond to the ransomware threat.

    • Install the customized FOR528 Windows and SIFT VMs, configuring them as required for detailed log review and malware analysis
    • Utilize a ransomware "builder" to generate a customized ransomware encryptor payload along with a decryption tool. You will run the ransomware payload you generate, review the encrypted files, and then use the decryption tool to decrypt the data.
    • Review forensic artifacts collected from a compromised environment and then parse the data using KAPE. Utilize Timeline Explorer to review data parsed via KAPE while focusing on Master File Table (MFT), System Resource Usage Monitor (SRUM), Shellbags, Shimcache, and Windows Event Log artifacts.
    • Hunt data within the TimeSketch interface while focusing on how analysis of MFT, SRUM, Shellbags, Shimcache, and Windows Event Log scales when moving from manual analysis from the previous lab to at-scale analysis
    • Learn the ins-and-outs of the most common interface associated with Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana (ELK) stacks, Kibana, while adapting skills acquired in previous labs

    • Course virtual machines
      • Overview & setup

    • Review of our custom target victim and their network

      • Samaran Protect see

    • Custom attack scenarios overview. Our labs and Capture the Flag are based on these atacks
      • "BlueLocker" Ransomware group
      • "Balrog" Ransomware group

    • Ransomware evolution and history
      • First-recognize ransomware attack
      • Lockers and single-machine encryption payloads
      • Human-Operated Ransomware (HumOR)

    • Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS)
      • RaaS model, hierarchies, and roles
      • RaaS builders and generators
      • RaaS dashboards

    • Install Access Brokers (IABs)
      • Methods of access
      • Darknet marketplaces
      • Victim access: Selling vs. Buying

    • Ransomware operators
      • Group evolution over time
      • Types of extortion
      • Data leak sites and psychological pressures
      • Darkweb forum communications

    • Forensic Artifact Collection
      • Review artifacts collected by the Kroll Artifact Parser and Extractor (KAPE)
      • Process/parse collected artifacts using KAPE
      • Review the output of parsed artifacts to understand better the tools and methodologies leveraged to parse the forensic data for review

    • Incident Response processes and their application to ransomware
      • Dynamic Approach to Incident Response (DAIR) model
      • Phases of a typical ransomware campaign

    • Windows Forensic Artifacts
      • Event Logs, Shellbags, Shimcache, SRUM, and more
      • Review of the SANS Windows Forensic Analysis poster
      • Using Timeline Explorer to analyze CSV files output by common parsing tools
      • Artifact collection tools
      • Acquiring forensic artifacts

    • Analysis at scale
      • Using Velociraptor to collect in bulk
      • Log augmentation via Sysmon
      • Log auditing review via Log-MD
      • Log aggregators/SIEMs and file names

    • Analysis GUIs
      • TimeSketch
      • Kibana

  • Overview

    Ransomware incidents are not especially unique. We Incident Responders see the same Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) over and over& So let's learn how to detect them!

    Section two transitions from foundational knowledge to covering the initial stages of a ransomware campaign attack cycle. We begin by covering Initial Access, Execution, Defense Evasion, and scripting engine abuse. Most ransomware cases involve actors leveraging scripting engines such as PowerShell, Batch scripts, JavaScript, Visual Basic Scripting, and more. In these early sections of the day, we discuss the various tools and scripts that we see time and time again, providing an overview of each tool along with details for hunting and detection. Next, we move to discussing Persistence. You'll learn about common Command and Control (C2) mechanisms, Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solutions, and native Windows methods ransomware operators use to maintain access to an environment.

    Our next section focuses on attacks against Microsoft's Active Directory (AD). Ransomware operators love to attack AD, so we will break down the various ways in which they take advantage of poor AD configurations to escalate privileges and access credentials. Next we cover Privilege Escalation, Credential Access, and Lateral Movement. What tools do ransomware actors use to escalate privileges on machines? How do they access stored credentials from Windows hosts? What processes are often dumped, why, and how? For Lateral Movement you'll learn about how RDP, SMB (inc. specifically PsExec), WinRM, and other methods are used to move throughout the victim network.

    • Hunting malicious RDP activity to identify initial infection vectors and internal-to-internal lateral movement
    • Identify successful phishing attacks via hunting Microsoft Office applications as parent processes, zip files opened natively in Windows, zip file credential read operations, Outlook downloading/executing files, and review of the Microsoft Trust Center
    • Learn to analyze encoded and obfuscated PowerShell payloads
    • Identify lateral movement via mechanisms such as RDP, PsExec, WMI, and Cobalt Strike


    The phases of a ransomware attack campaign

    • Initial Access
    • Execution
    • Defense Evasion
    • Persistence
    • Attacks against Active Directory
    • Privilege Escalation
    • Credential Access
    • Lateral Movement

    The following sections include in-depth details on the tools and processes noted along with methods for detection and hunting:

    • Initial Access
      • Top 3 IV initial access methods: RDP, Phishing, and Software Vulnerabilities
      • Phishing vectors
        • Malware infection vs. credential harvesting
        • Malicious attachments such as MalDocs
        • Review of our Email Gateway File Block List (linked)
        • Malicious links and how to analyze them
      • Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
        • Import Windows Event Logs
        • Identifying malicious RDP activity
      • Malware-as-a-Service (Maas)
      • Software exploits / Vulnerabilities

        • Zero-day vs. Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs)
        • Example CVEs targeted and exploited in the wild
        • Darknet forum discussions RE: know vulnerabilities
    • Execution and Defense Evasion
      • Threat actor tooling:
        • Free and Open-Source (FOSS)
        • Native scripting engines
        • Living Off the Land Binaries and Scripts (LOLBAS)
        • Commercial tooling for adversary emulation (e.g. Cobalt Strike)
        • Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS)
      • Security service/mechanism bypass methods
      • Native execution methods
      • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) attacks
      • Scripting engine abuse
        • PowerShell
        • Batch scripts
        • JavaScript scripts
        • Visual Basic Scripting
      • PowerShell logging and advanced analysis
        • Associated Windows Event Logs and enabling them
        • PowerShell parameters and their purposes
    • Persistence
      • Common C2 methods
      • Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)
      • Post-exploit frameworks (e.g. Cobaltstrike, Empire, PowerSploit, etc.)
      • Account creation
      • Boot / Logon auto-start locations
      • Service installations
      • Scheduled tasks
      • WMI event subscriptions
    • Active Directory (AD) Attacks

      • AD Enumeration
      • Bloodhound & SharpHound
      • Kerberoasting
      • AS-REP Roasting
      • DCSync attacks
      • Golden ticket attacks
    • Privilege Escalation and Credential Access
      • Commonly targeted accounts
      • Methods by which accounts are targeted
      • User Account Control (UAC) bypass methods
      • Local Security Authority Server Service (LSASS) access and dumping
      • NTDS.dit attacks
      • Alternate credentials attacks
        • Attacks on passwords stored in browsers and password management tools
        • Session sniffers and extractors
        • All-in-one solutions seen commonly (e.g. WinPwn)
    • Lateral Movement
      • RDP and RDP cached bitmap analysis
      • Server Message Block (SMB) lateral movement
      • Named pipe utilization and relation to service installs
      • SysInternals PsExec
      • Windows Remote Management (WinRM)
      • Attacks against ESXi

  • Overview

    Our next section focuses on attacks against Microsoft's Active Directory (AD). Ransomware operators love to attack AD, so we will break down the various ways in which they take advantage of poor AD configurations to escalate privileges and access credentials.

    In section 3, we pick up where we left off in the ransomware attack lifecycle with one of the more critical sections of the course's Data Access and Data Exfiltration. Organizations usually want to know what data may have been accessed and/or stolen. We cover data archival and staging methods, including ways to hunt the tools that facilitate these activities. Would you believe that FTP is a common exfiltration route? How can you best detect data being exfiltrated, even if you don't know what data is being exfiltrated? We will show you!

    We then move to the final phase of the ransomware attack, Payload deployment and the inner-workings of encryption. You willl learn about backup and recovery tampering along with the methods by which ransomware actors attack backup systems. The ways in which actors cover their tracks might seem obvious; because they are! We end this section with technical details pertaining to the most common payload deployment methods.

    We then pivot to an in-depth review of Cobalt Strike (CS), an adversary emulation and attack simulation tool that has become perhaps too good at its job. Many security professionals around the world such as penetration testers and red teams rely on CS. Unfortunately, we see this extremely powerful commercial tool in a very high percentage of ransomware attacks. You will learn about the tool's infrastructure, Malleable C2 profiles, payload detection/deobfuscation methods, and more. This module includes a hands-on lab in which you will learn to decode CS payloads.

    The next section covers what to do if you are about to be encrypted, are currently being encrypted, or were just recently encrypted. We cover the actions you need to take including the entities you need to contact, the departments you need to involve, and the processes you need to put in place with special attention to temporal requirements. The clock is ticking! Finally, we cover hunting methods such as identifying renamed executables, malicious files/processes via directory analysis, common attacks via anti-virus log analysis, and more. This is where we show you the best ways to keep an eye on your organization.

    • Hunt and identify data access and potential exfiltration via hunting and pivoting through NTFS metadata (NTFS, UsnJrnl, etc.), manual parsing of acquired artifacts, Timeline Explorer, TimeSketch, and Kibana
    • Decoding and analysing Cobalt Strike payloads including PowerShell shellcode injectors and "stageless" beacon EXE and DLL loaders
    • Detecting the threat actor's toolbox via hunting methods such as detecting PSTools, renamed executables, common directories, and more

    • Data Access
      • Reporting and legal considerations
      • Network share enumeration and access
      • Deleted file and file knowledge
      • File and folder access
      • Registry analysis
      • Tool-specific analysis
    • Data Exfiltration
      • Archive creation
      • Data staging
      • Creation/use of .txt and .csv files
      • Data exfiltration routes
      • Network log and NetFlow review
    • Backup and Recovery tampering
      • Volume Shadow Service attacks
      • Boot Configuration Data, Windows Boot Status Policy, and Windows Backup attacks
      • Event log clearing
    • Payload Deployment
      • Common deployment tools and methods
      • Deployment via PsExec
      • Deployment via WMIC
      • Deployment via BITS
    • Encryption and Decryptors
      • Encryption key types
      • Overwrite vs. Copy/Delete encryption methods
      • Ransom notes
      • Encryption mechanism source code review
      • Decryptors
    • Cobalt Strike (CS)
      • Threat actor access and utilization
      • CS architecture and components
      • Malleable C2 profiles
      • Commands and cheat sheets
      • Detection methods
      • Payload decoding tools and methods
    • Dealing with an Active Threat

      • Time considerations
      • Informed consent
      • Departments and roles that need to be involved
      • "Going Dark" a.k.a. Cutting Internet connectivity
      • Securing critical services and functions
    • Ransomware Payments
      • Cons regarding payment
      • Pros regarding payment
      • Threat actor communications and negotiations
    • Hunting Ransomware Operators. Techniques to identify:
      • Malicious RDP connectivity
      • Process name and path anomalies
      • Rogue/malicious executables
      • PowerShell encoded commands
      • Malicious activity in Antivirus logs
      • Malicious activity involving environment variables

  • Overview

    Nothing, and we mean nothing, can prepare you better to respond to ransomware incidents than experience. Since you do not want to gain such experience within your organization, we provide a full day Capture the Flag (CTF) Challenge that will have you analyzing ransomware incidents from the infection vector all the way through the encryption payload running within the environment. We have crafted a victim organization, Samaran Protect, to which you can most likely relate your organization. Our CTF Challenge consists of over 70 questions pertaining to a specially crafted attack scenario against our victim's organization. Our target victim's network includes 16 hosts with three VLANs:

    To carry out these attacks, we devised two different ransomware groups, each of which is an amalgamation of currently operating ransomware threat groups. The Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) leveraged mirror real-world scenarios that those responding to ransomware events see every day. The actors involved in each scenario use different entry methods, credential access methods, tooling, deployment methods, and encryptor payloads.

    Furthermore, each scenario mimics a different type of environment: One in which the victim organization does not purposefully collect forensic data to aid in incident response and one in which the victim is well-tooled and is ready for anything. Whether your organization would need to begin all artifact collection and parsing post-incident, or you have augmented your data logging and take advantage of a full-fledged SIEM, the methods we cover in our Capstone will help you relate to your organization's methods and capabilities.

    • A full day of analyzing parsed forensic artifacts and logs to answer questions common in every ransomware incident using two separate scenarios

    Scenario 1: "BlueLocker" Ransomware

    Scenario 2: "Balrog" Ransomware

    • Digital Forensics Capstone
      • Analysis
        • Review parsed artifact and log data for Scenario 1 using TimeSketch
        • Review parsed artifact and log data for Scenario 2 using Kibana
        • Examine Windows Event logs, Sysmon data, artifacts of program execution, registry hive files, and more
        • Follow the threat actor's actions from initial infection vector through encryptor payload deployment and execution
        • Identify the tools, scripts, tactics, and processes used throughout each major phase of each attack campaign
    • Answer the questions every organization wants answered following a ransomware event, such as:
      • How did the actors get into the network?
      • What data, if any, were the actors able to access?
      • Were the actors able to steal (i.e. exfiltrate) any data?
      • Which systems were impacted by the overall campaign, including the encryption payload itself?
      • And more!


A background in Incident Response (IR) is suggested. This course is aimed toward the incident responder who needs to respond to ransomware attacks. Thus, IR experience or at least alert triage experience such as one acquired within a SOC or CIRT is recommended. Additional recommended experience includes Windows artifact identification and analysis, such as one learns in FOR500: Windows Forensic Analysis. Finally, we recommend familiarity with regular expressions (regex) along with general SIEM use.

All these items are covered in the course, but the general idea is to have experience working incidents.

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 systems using the M1/M2 processor line cannot perform the necessary virtualization functionality 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.
  • 200GB 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 your course. Firewalls should be disabled or you must have the administrative privileges to disable it.
  • Download and install VMware Workstation Pro 16.2.X+ or VMware Player 16.2.X+ (for Windows 10 hosts), VMware Workstation Pro 17.0.0+ or VMware Player 17.0.0+ (for Windows 11 hosts), or VMWare Fusion Pro 12.2+ or VMware Fusion Player 11.5+ (for macOS hosts) prior to class beginning. 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 at their website. Also note that VMware Workstation Player offers fewer features than VMware Workstation Pro. For those with Windows host systems, Workstation Pro is recommended for a more seamless student experience.
  • On Windows hosts, VMware products might not coexist with the Hyper-V hypervisor. For the best experience, ensure 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 is 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 your course's labs.

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

Author Statement

Ransomware has become ubiquitous. No matter how much we organize to rid the world of the ransomware scourge, we find that ransomware only becomes more common, threat actors become increasingly bold, and organizations continue to buckle under the pressure of these attacks. Luckily for us, the primary methods by which ransomware actors succeed in their attacks involve general failures in "Security 101" practices. If we work together, these can be fixed! Until then, we as security practitioners need to know how to respond to these threats. You and your organization need to know what to collect, how, how to parse that data, and how to analyze that data in a quick and efficient manner. Such is the focus on goal of our course. - Ryan Chapman

Register for FOR528


All pricing excludes applicable taxes