GIAC Certified Forensics Analyst

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Certification Provider


Exam Code



Exam Name

GIAC Certified Forensics Analyst


Exam Cost

$999 (USD)



A time limit of 3 hours


No.of Questions

82-115 questions


Passing Score

Minimum Passing Score of 72%





Exam Format

Multiple choice

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The GIAC certified forensic analyst certification is a high-level computer forensics certification that indicates the candidate's competence, aptitude, and capability to perform official forensic incident investigations. The certification certifies the candidates have the necessary skills to collect and analyze data from Linux and Windows computer systems. 

The certification mainly emphasizes the core diligence to handle incidents and carry out a forensic investigation through evidence collected. The certification holders are capable of handling complex incident cases that directly impact the company's security. The certification primarily focuses on computer forensics relation with incident investigation and incident response and diligence required to analyze the data. 

About GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA) Certification Exam

The GIAC Forensic Analyst (GCFA) examination is the registered exam of GIAC, which validates a candidate's knowledge in forensic investigation/analysis, formal incident investigation, and advanced incident handling. The examination is conducted through Pearson VUE in a proctored environment. The candidates pursue the certification requirements to pass one computer-based exam containing 115 multiple-choice questions with an allocated time of 3 hours. The candidate must score at least 69% to pass the certification exam.

The exam is in an open book format, which means that candidates can bring testing resources with them, consisting of textbooks, oriented guides, printed notes, and courseware manuals. There will be little desk space in the testing room. However, candidates are forbidden to bring electronic media such as mobile phones, USBs, tablets, etc.  Candidates cannot bring any media with search facilities such as Google, Opera, Bing, etc. Candidates will not have access to the internet. You will have to consider these points while buying any study books.

Certification objectives

The certification was developed to produce qualified individuals in digital forensics and validate their skills and competence. The certification validates that the candidates can perform formal incident investigations and react to advanced indecent cases, including external and internal data breaches, exploits, intrusions, advanced threats, and anti-forensics methods attempted by attackers in complicated digital forensic cases.

Moreover, the certification aims to deliver candidates complex forensic concepts as media analysis, memory analysis, enterprise acquisition, and file system structures.

Certification audiences

The GIAC  Certified Forensic analyst, also known as (GCFA), is the higher-level certification designed for professionals and experts working in incident response, computer forensics, and information security domains. Though beginners who are interested in the domain also can take up the certification. As stated by the GIAC, the major audiences for the certification include: 

  1. Incident Response Team Members
  2. Threat Hunters
  3. SOC Analysts
  4. Experienced Digital Forensic Analysts
  5. Information Security Professionals
  6. Federal Agents and Law Enforcement Professionals
  7. Red Team Members, Penetration Testers, and Exploit Developers
  8. GCFE and GCIH Cert Holders
Certification requirements 

There is currently no fixed requirement for the examination that means beginners or experts can attend the exam. However, IT has recommended that candidates with bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity with the proper knowledge of computer digital forensics apply for the certification.

Candidates wanting to take up the certification are preferred to have worked in the forensic domain or have had at least training and know the domain's basics.

Advantages of the certification

The certification is designed for candidates that want to develop their competence in computer forensics. The certification comes up with an enormous amount of benefits. It provides you with the credibility to perform a digital forensic investigation.

The GCFA certified candidate can work in an e-Business Security environment as a professional, Legal professional, IT manager, and Systems manager. Numbers of corporate are enlisting Computer Hacking Forensic investigators with higher salaries and high-level privileges.

Some of the major benefits that come up with the certification include: 

  1. Higher financial rewards 
  2. High-level investigation privilege 
  3. Access to tools and privileges that only higher investigators have
  4. Most of the well-known companies have computer forensic departments that require highly qualified individuals that GCFA creates.
  5. Business news daily has ranked the GCFA certification as their top 5 digital forensic certifications to pursue.
Certification syllabus content

There are 10 important sections of the syllabus. If you want to start preparing for the certification, you must know all these topics by heart. Below given are the essential syllabus topics.

  1. Enterprise Environment Incident Response
  2. File System Timeline Artifact Analysis
  3. Identification of Malicious System and User Activity
  4. Identification of Normal System and User Activity
  5. Introduction to File System Timeline Forensics
  6. Introduction to Volatile Data Forensics
  7. NTFS Artifact Analysis
  8. Volatile Data Artifact Analysis of Malicious Events
  9. Volatile Data Artifact Analysis of Windows Events
  10. Windows Artifact Analysis
Career opportunities

One of the essential points of deciding to take up the certification would be to list its career scope. Does the certification open up job opportunities that are in your best interest or not?

You will know what kinds of job opportunities the certification can bring and help define your job role. So here are the possible job roles along with their salaries you can gain through GIAC GCFA certification.



Computer Security Specialist// Manager

$84,565/yr To $181,431/yr t

Intrusion Detection Analyst/Manager

Average of $41,786 / yr

Computer Forensics Analyst/Manager

$49,454/yr to $105,275/yr

Information Security  Analyst/Manager 


IT Security Manager

$132,747 To $159,725 

Law Enforcement Forensics Analyst

$62,490 to $110,720 per year

Scheduling the exam

For scheduling the exam, you have two major options: Either you can take the test centers or take an online proctored exam. Pearson sponsors both options. Pearson VUE is the best option that offers more than 3,500 test centers all over the world.

It can be searched through the PearsonUVE website through this link: Just log on to your Pearson VUE account and find the appropriate exam center and schedule your exam. In the case of online proctoring through Pearson VUE, you will need the Pearson account. The process will be to:

  1. Log onto your Pearson VUE exam
  2. Select the proctored exam option and enter the exam code  GCFA 
  3. Follow the prompt  and click register and do the payment

To know-how in detail to register, you can download this PDF from this URL:

Certification retake policy

If the candidate fails to pass the examination, they should retake an exam which will cost them $799. This can be done by logging into the candidate's SANS/GIAC account and selecting "Certification Attempts" and then "Purchase Retake." The option will be available for 30 days after the exam deadline. If the candidates do not purchase a retake exam within 30 days and wish to take the retake exam later, they will require to start over by buying the new certification attempt. 

The access to any available practice tests or course materials associated with the certification attempt will be renewed automatically to match the extended exam deadline.  Retakes are not an option for those candidates who have passed the exam in a single attempt. These are only for the failed attempts.

After three attempts fail, the opportunity for the test attempt would be finished and declared unsuccessfully completed. Candidates then must wait a year to go for the new certification attempt. Candidates are required to wait 30 days within these attempts before applying for the retake examination.

Exam cancellation policy

If the candidates wish to cancel or reschedule the exam, they must do so at least 24 hours, one business day before the exam appointment time. Candidates can do so by logging into their SANS account and selecting "Certification Attempts" and then to "View proctor Details" and then "Change'. 

If the candidates are required to cancel or reschedule the exam 24 hours in advance and fail to attend the exam, they will be charged $150 for the seating fee.

Certification renewal policy

A period of 30 days should be reserved for the processing period from the time of submission. All these important processing tasks are carried out under your online GIAC account dashboard. You will have to do a $429 maintenance fee every four years at the time of renewal.

If multiple renewals are done within the two-year renewal period provided by GIAC, this will automatically qualify as discounts, with the initial renewing fee being $429  to $219 for every successful renewal made. Certification renewal aims to display the ongoing competency in the  GIAC domains. Two major methods can maintain the credentials provided by GIAC:

  1. Taking the current version of the certification exam
  2. Earning CPEs, also known as Continuing Professional Education credits.

There are certain tasks, and professional activities one can complete that will earn the candidate's CPEs. These activities can be understood in the official GIAC certification renewal policy.

Candidates have till their certification expiry date to complete the CPE submissions and payment of certification maintenance fee. This CPE submission must be done within four years during the time of your certification activation.

GCFA Preparation Steps

Preparing for the certification is the foremost and most essential action you do after you have a clear mindset that you will attempt for the certification. You should start your preparation even before registering for the examination to provide you with enough time to prepare. Whether you pass or fail the certification exam, the outcome of your effort entirely depends upon the amount of effort you put into your preparation.

You must also require some good methods you should implement to boost the preparation that will benefit you in a short period. Yes, an individual has the methods and techniques they implement in the preparation. Remember, good techniques are better than just straight- forward learning.  The effectiveness of your preparation not only depends upon your methods but also on the materials that you use for the preparation. 

Some individuals find visual appearances such as training videos, explanations, graphics, and animation more grasping than reading books and research papers, while some people prefer them over others. It depends on the candidates, but it is proved that the human brain processes visuals more quickly, so you might consider both of them. This section will introduce you to some of the useful and proven methods and approaches you can implement to prepare for the certification exam fully. 

  • Grasp The Basics

If you are a complete beginner and have just started understanding the certification, the most probable and important step would be to know the basics. This includes knowing all the contents of the topics from which the exam questions are prepared. The full syllabus is provided above on the topic of Syllabus Content. You can check them out and start preparing accordingly. To grasp the basics, you must start from the start. Even though you are not a beginner, you can still start from the basics, which will refine your knowledge from scratch giving you revision ideas to make your basics stronger. 

Remember, basics are the foundation of your preparation because they will help you establish your certification concepts. So what is the most effective way to grasp the basics from evolving to the rigorous concepts? Well, the answer is simpler, i.e. Get trained!  It is perhaps the only way you can fully learn about the certification.

For this, you can find hundreds of online courses that will tutor and guide you from the very start and also provide you with important learning materials you can use during your exam preparation. You can also refer to online video training videos and ebooks that will guide you all the way. Some of these materials are free, but most of them require fees.

If you do not want to learn electronically, you can also browse the nearest IT Institutions that provide candidates' courses through physical tutoring.  There will be an actual class and an actual tutor to attend and understand the concepts more technically. The choice is yours, but I recommend utilizing the maximum resources available.

  • Develop An Effective Study Plan

An appropriate study plan directly influences the outcome of your preparation. If you keep changing plans, you will not be able to formulate your goals that will directly affect your results. So from the start, create an effective study plan and stick to it till the exam. For this, you can find other peers or seniors through internet groups who will share their study plans. You then need to implement which steps are better for you.

A better way would be to make a schedule. You can read the coursebook that is available on the GIAC site. Read the guide and highlight important topics you find the problem for understanding. Then look out for solutions explained on the internet on youtube and different forums sites.

You finish immediately and go for practice tests for the topics for every concept, putting your practice and learning linearly. Set short-term goals for the day that you will achieve, which will directly affect the long-term goals. Make mind-maps and stick them on the back of every book you read. 

  • Practice Tests

Practise tests are the best way to evaluate whether you have achieved your set goals or not. Practise tests act as small exams that will help you to track your progress. For example, if you have just finished studying certain topics, you need to practice mock tests. If you find the question easy and solve them, then you know that you have learned everything about the topic.  This is a short-term test to verify your understanding of each section.

After you finish learning all the sections, you might consider practicing the model questions that will be the impression of the final exam paper. You can also find exam dumps from the learning websites that will be helpful in your preparation. 

Take these practice tests seriously as you are taking the actual examination. That will help you develop key skills such as time management, problem-solving, and problem reasoning, which are important in the actual exam.

We'd recommend you practice the SANS FOR-508 workbook to develop an understanding of all the topics in a better way. This exam is developed to test your expertise and competence in the material.

  • Get Help From the Professionals

Feel free to ask for help from GCFA, certified professionals. You can find these experts and individuals related to your field in online communities. There are hundreds of online communities on different social platforms such as Facebook, Reddit, wiki, and forums where you can find people who have already gone through the certification phase.

Remember, they will prove valuable assets as they can share their experiences and success stories on how they managed to pass the certification. They will also provide you with the learning materials that proved worthy for them and might as well be useful to you. Furthermore, they can share their study techniques and tricks you can apply to help you go through the most easily during the exam. 

You will need all the motivation you can find during your preparation. Most importantly, these online groups host daily quizzes, discussions, conferences, and programs, and new technologies that are affecting the certification domain.

If you require clarification on a topic you're finding difficulty in, then feel free to inquire about it, and they might explain to you more easily. Verbal information is easier to understand and grasp. 

You can even check out the roadmap for GIAC certification to check out on GIAC.

Remember, on the day of the exam, be focused, make your head clear, read the questions carefully, and take your time in understanding them. Good luck!


The GCFA certification is an expert validation that deals in the domain of computer forensic.  The certification examines all the required competence in digital forensics, digital investigation, and computer forensics. Computer forensic is simply the forensic branch that emphasizes investigation processes to accumulate, analyze, interpret, and present digital evidence for legal proceedings.

Also, known as cyber forensics, these digital methods and techniques are important to track the attacker's evidence, also known as a digital footprint,  to solve cybercrime.

As cybercrime is a growing concern, there is a need for candidates aware and capable of conducting these kinds of digital investigations and analyzing the available evidence in a cybercrime scene. This requires experts who are very much familiar with cybersecurity and digital security.
The digital project has forecasted that there will be a need for more than 50,000 Digital forensic investigators by 2022. That is a huge number. So seeing the scope of this, many candidates require validity to prove themselves competent and qualified enough to work in these environments. They will require a standard certification that will validate them to every institution in the world.
GCFA certification is one of the most popular computer forensic certifications in the world. So candidates should look into this certification if they want to make their career in computer forensic.