The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the SANS Institute and GIAC Certifications to offer all its training and certification for IT security professionals online.
Its OnDemand training has been available since the early 2000s, when the SARS epidemic triggered a shift to online training. But SANS instructors are now also live streaming sessions.
SANS new training format, SANS Live Online, delivers live-streamed training courses over multiple time zones. Students can access their course recordings for four months after the training ends, for revision and preparation for certification. Classes are taught by expert SANS instructors and include hands-on lab exercises.
The institute is also offering 55 training courses through the platform. All the sessions involve pre-recorded instruction from SANS instructors and involve hands-on labs and exercises. Students can test-drive OnDemand courses for free.
In Australia, where pandemic restrictions have been relaxed in many locations, SANS allows students to train in-person onsite with live-streamed instruction.
SANS has also expanded its free education offerings. It’s offering free Capture the Flag challenges and weekly talks and workshops delivered by SANS instructors.
Steven Armitage, Country Director, Australia SANS Institute, APAC, says: “If you’re on the front line of cybersecurity, this has been a year like no other. Dealing with a new wave of cyberthreats and risks during a global health crisis presents complex challenges. Attackers are actively targeting and exploiting these new vulnerabilities to inflict damage on people, businesses, organisations and nations. Now is not the time remain on the side-lines or for organisations to let down their guard. In fact, for a lot of organisations, it really is the perfect time to fortify their cybersecurity skills.”
Armitage described the SANS training delivered online as “the same high quality, hands-on experience”.
Certification with GIAC is now also available online for the first time, through a remote proctor option. Students can live chat with GIAC certified subject matter experts to help prepare for the certification.
GIAC’s Managing Director Scott Cassity pointed out the convenience of online testing. “This critical service allows our customers to complete their certification examinations from the comfort and safety of their home,” Cassity stated.
“Remote delivery also gives practitioners flexibility to take certification exams as soon as they’re prepared, ensuring minimal impact to the security of our nations, businesses, and infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
GIAC touts the integrity of its exams. A person observes the tests, which are paper-based, via webcam and GIAC uses software and human proctors to check for signs of cheating.
In 2021, SANS will also offer free virtual access to SANS Summits and conferences, which will feature live-streamed talks, Q&A sessions and virtual networking. In the coming weeks, it will also begin a Holiday Hack Challenge.
The pandemic has driven a boom in online learning, with some providers reporting large increases in enrolments from March to April 2020.
Demand for SANS education resources remained and in some cases increased during the pandemic, Cassity told CIO Dive earlier this year.
Universities have continued to add online courses. La Trobe University plans on “significantly” expanding the number of online-only qualifications it offers.
Some have gone further. Swinburne University took its open day online, creating a “virtual campus experience” so that prospective students could learn about the institution without having to visit in person during the pandemic.