SANS Foundations is the best single course available to learn the core knowledge and develop practical skills in computers, technology, and security fundamentals that are needed to kickstart a career in cybersecurity. The course features a comprehensive variety of innovative, hands-on labs, and practical exercises that go far beyond what is offered in any other foundational course in cybersecurity. These labs are developed by leading subject-matter experts, drawing on the latest technology, techniques, and concepts in cybersecurity.
The course provides students with the practical learning and key skills to empower future cybersecurity learning and professional development.
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What You Will Learn
The course provides exactly what you need to go from zero technical and security knowledge to a level of sufficient theoretical understanding and applied practical skills that will enable you to speak the same language as industry professionals. Students will develop fundamental skills and knowledge in key IT subject areas such as:
- Computer Components & Concepts
- Operating Systems, Containers, & Virtualization
- Networking Fundamentals
- The Web: Search Engine & Servers
- Practical Programming – Python and C
- Windows Foundations
- Advanced Computer Hardware (e.g. CPU & Memory)
- Introduction to Basic Security Concepts
- Introduction to Forensics
- Introduction to Reconnaissance, Exploitation, and Privilege Escalation
- Introduction to Network & Computer Infiltration (e.g. Lateral Movement)
There currently is no GIAC certification for this course, but there is a two-hour proctored exam delivered by GIAC at the end of the course. Completion of this exam is required to earn the certificate of completion and any potential CPEs.
- Introduction: Learning the Foundations – Introduction to the SANS Foundations course and training platform
- Computer Components and Concepts: Five modules providing learning across Computer Hardware, Data Storage & Representation, Logic & Data Manipulation, Storing Data & Files, and Cloud Computing.
- OS, Containers and Virtualization: Three modules that dive into Operating Systems Concepts, Terminology, and Functions, Virtualization, and an Introduction to Containers.
- Linux: Six modules that introduce students to Linux, the Linux Environment, Linux Navigation, Commands, and Linux Architecture and Components. These modules focus on installing Linux, Navigation and Structure, Permissions, and Commands such as grep, cp, and much more. This module is rich in labs!
- The Web: Two modules that focus on Search Superpowers and WWW & Serving. These modules provide a look into how search engines work and the most efficient ways to use them as well as an introduction to Web Servers, HTML, Cookies, etc.
- Networking Fundamentals: Five modules on Networking Components and Hardware, Packets, Types of Network Addresses, TCP and UDP protocols, Subnetting, Email (SMTP, SPF, DKIM), DNS, TLD, forward & reverse lookup, ICMP, DHCP, OSI, TCP/IP, and more!
- Servers and Services: Six modules that introduce Web, Database, DNS, Log, and Email servers and take a look at their basic setup and installation procedures. The modules also cover Basic Hardening and Configuration.
- Practical Programming and Concepts: Six modules that introduce programming in Python and C. The modules incrementally teach what a program is and how it works before delving into Writing Basic Programs and Introducing Various Strategies, Tools, and Conventions. These modules are lab-heavy, including labs such as Variables in Python, User Input in Python, Reading and Writing Files, Using TCP Sockets, Printing in C, String Handling and more!
- Windows Foundations: Four modules that teach students about Windows, Different Versions, Uses, Installation, Network Setup, Configuration, Changing Settings, Log Files, the Registry, File Permissions, User Accounts, Windows Command Line, Scripting, and Powershell.
- Advanced Computer Hardware: Three modules that look at how the CPU and RAM Work In-Depth (e.g. Memory: Stack and Heap), introduce GDB and How to Track Execution, and Advanced Storage Mechanisms such as RAID and Cloud Storage Mechanisms. Many of these modules introduce students to concepts and tools but do not develop expertise in the more challenging topics.
- Security Concepts: Eight modules that introduce students to a variety of topics and tools such as Encryption, Encoding, Hashing, the Law, Ethics, Red Team vs. Blue Team, Risk Management, Critical Security Controls, Kali Linux, Slingshot and SIFT, Reconnaissance Tools and Techniques, and the Basics of Digital Forensics (e.g. Steganography, Memory Captures). Many of these modules introduce students to concepts and tools but do not develop expertise in the more challenging topics.
- Offensive Security Concepts: Six modules that introduce students to offensive security concepts and exploitation techniques, such as Command Injection, SQL Injection, Session Guessing, Directory Traversal, Clickjacking, Buffer Overflows, Phishing, Metasploit, Social Engineering, Privilege Escalation, Kernel Exploits, Bypassing UAC, Stored Credentials, and more! Many of these modules introduce students to concepts and tools but do not develop expertise in the more challenging topics.
- Network and Computer Infiltration: Three modules that cover topics and methods for Persistence, Lateral Movement, and Exfiltration. Students learn about Indicators of Compromise, Ports, Yara, Rootkits, ARP Cache, Extracting Passwords from Memory, Spotting Common Exfiltration Methods, and more. These modules introduce students to concepts and tools but do not develop expertise in the more challenging topics.
- Course Summary
- There are no prerequisites.
- No prior security knowledge is needed.
The course provides exactly what students need to go from zero technical and security knowledge, to a level of sufficient theoretical understanding and applied practical skills that will enable students to speak the same language as industry professionals. This course is designed for:
- Career changers
- Online self-driven learners seeking new skills
- College & university students
- Business professionals without a deep cybersecurity background
- New hires in IT/cybersecurity
- Participants in reskilling programs
Any modern web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) will be suitable, and you can change between devices and pick up where you left off at any time.
No software is required to participate in the course, everything is provided in the online learning platform! Even when learning Python or C and how to build programs, or exploring security tools - everything can be done online!
SANS Foundations: Computers, Technology & Security
"Cybersecurity is an exciting and fast-growing field, and it must be at a time when the global talent shortage continues to grow, and both the number of threats and malicious actors continues to rise. While job roles in application security, reverse malware engineering, and threat hunting may sound enticing, practitioners in these roles all had to start by learning the basics. There are essential computing and technology skills that all successful cybersecurity professionals first learn that serve as the baseline for careers and future education in the field. SANS Foundations serves as the launch of an IT education and career or can fill in the gaps by introducing students to these fundamentals.
By providing students with minimal technology proficiency and the ability to recognize key terms and develop competencies with tools and systems in a comfortable atmosphere, they are prepared for future skills development. Whether you are a career seeker, self-driven learner, or in an immersive training program, SANS Foundations will provide you with the core IT and computer knowledge and abilities integral to a future career in cybersecurity.
SANS Foundations teaches students a broad array of fundamental knowledge in areas such as computer hardware, networking, Linux, operating systems, data storage, and much more. The skills gained are applicable to everyone in an IT, computing, or security role. Practical skills are key to success in cybersecurity, and thus there are over 100 labs and hands-on exercises in the course to kickstart your cybersecurity journey. The course will set you up for entering the workforce and be ready to continue learning in more advanced, technical areas across cybersecurity."
-James Lyne, SANS Chief Technology Officer
Q: How long does it take to complete the course?
A: The course content can be completed in 50 to 60 hours, but many students take longer to maximize their learning outcomes and skills development. Most students review course content multiple times, repeat labs and quizzes, or do the extra exercises and the average completion time is 120 to 140 hours.
Q: How long do I have access to the course?
A: Students have access to the course for 4 months, providing plenty of time to go over the material in bite size chunks and to review the labs and lecture. During this time, you can go back over all of the course components and complete them as many times as you wish to do so.
Q: How do the labs work?
A: The learning platform for SANS Foundations has an online labs system where you can interact with security tools, get your hands on the Linux command line, and use an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to write and test code. There are over 90 labs in the course, and all can be completed from a web browser, providing you access to your own personal and isolated lab network
Q: What do the quizzes test?
A: The quizzes benchmark your knowledge and measure if you understood the key concepts and topics of each module. The quizzes are based on the course content and a fantastic indicator of your familiarity and retention. You can take them multiple times until you feel confident and are ready to move onto the next module.
Q: Are there books for this course?
A: There are no books for this course. All content is online.
Q: How do I access the course?
A: After successfully registering for the course, you will receive an email with instructions to access the course content within two business days of full payment.
Q: What are good training courses or learning pathways to pursue after completing SANS Foundations?
A: The SANS Institute’s training curriculum and cybersecurity skills roadmap SANS Institute: Cyber Security Skills Roadmap shows how you can develop your cyber security skills across multiple career pathways, be it Cyber Defense Analyst, Incident Responder, or Penetration Tester. The SANS Foundations course is designed to prepare you for any of the pathways depending on your career goals and interests.
Q: Do I have to take the GIAC SANS Foundations final exam?
A: We advise all students to take the GIAC exam to fully complete the course.