GIAC Penetration Tester

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GIAC Penetration Tester


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180 Minutes


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GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)
GPEN is a vendor-neutral certification that was developed and operated by Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC). The certification is recognized as a validation of advanced-level penetration testing skills. The certification is for security professionals who have a major role in targeting networks to find security vulnerabilities. This exam checks the capacity and potential to conduct penetration testing using different methodologies, knowledge, legal issues, risk, and technical and non-technical penetration testing aspects.
GPEN certified personnel have advanced knowledge and the ability to deliver a process-oriented approach. Security analysts have risk evaluation capabilities to cross-check the system and protect it. One of the well-valued certifications, GIAC testers, uses the best methods to carry out penetration testing. They are very responsible for evaluating targeted networks and systems that possess vulnerabilities and threats to discover security breaches and analyze them to produce technical policies for their mitigation. 
The certification is aimed at security professionals who are willing to apply their technical experience to create real-time scenarios of threats and exploits that may harm the system. Cybersecurity and its protection is the major role of these aspirants. They have identified competence in carrying technical and non-technical abilities to perform threat analysis, threat management, risk assessment, and its impact on the organization. With extensive coverage of methods, tools, and techniques required for network pen-testing, GIAC helps the candidate prepare themselves to conduct high-value testing projects with complete steps from start to finish. 
Every Organization requires professionals that have a higher level of skilled information security personnel to protect their systems. GPEN is a completely vendor-neutral penetration testing certification that is suitable for any security technology. In the top 5 Cybersecurity certifications by Jon Good, a Renowned Cyber Security analyst. The certification provides a thorough analysis of penetration methodologies and technologies used frequently by security companies. It dives deep into both technical and non-technical legal issues surrounding the sub-discipline of cybersecurity.

The course focuses on a security analyst's role and the understanding he/she requires in the technical aspect to perform tests, evaluate threat assessment, and support the available resources to minimize attacks or breaches that might compromise their system. Cybersecurity is itself a huge domain. In this digital world, most big companies have systems that maintain vital user data.  

These are necessary to measure the quality of service the companies provide to their clients. They built vital plans and strategies to improve their service to grow as an institution. Thus, companies have a lot to protect from their rivals. For this, huge defense systems and software are developed, and a separate security team is deployed for the organization’s Digital defense. These companies need more and more qualified cybersecurity professionals at their disposal. 

GIAC Penetration Tester(GPEN) Examination

GIAC examinations are carried out online in a secured environment from GIAC's state-of-art exam engine. It was developed from years of industry experience, customer feedback following the ANSI requirements.  They utilize Real Skill Test exam questions to certify real-time knowledge and analyze post-exam evaluation by certification objective.

Custom post-exam candidate feedback interfaces help candidates to enhance the testing experience further. The GIAC exam development procedure has been ascribed under IEC/ISO/ANSI 17024 that is the most rigorous in the security industry. 

The domain matters examined on GIAC certification exams are based on validated targets for the provided certification knowledge domain. All exams conducted on GIAC  consist of a single exam that covers all the required certification objectives.

During the examination, candidates may flag exam questions for the GIAC exam development team review. After completion of the exam, Candidates don't have the right to review exam questions. If you experience any technical problems, the candidate should notify the proctor immediately. 

To get the GPEN validation, candidates must earn passing points in the certification examination. The exam consists of 115 questions. Each of these questions needs to be attempted in 120 min. The passing score for the examination is calculated in percentage, where the candidate must score at least 74%.

To take up the GPEN certification, candidates must submit an online application and pay a fee of $1,699. You can even take a training course that includes an exam voucher at the GPEN boot camp offered by InfoSec Institute.

After passing the examination, the certification has a validity date of four years from the result announcement day. After the validation time expires, Candidates can retake the examination to get recertified. During these four years, if there are any certification changes, then that will be applying for the certified personnel. They get an updated patch in the resources provided by the certification.

GPEN courses are available for almost free on the internet. Since it is an open-source examination, it will be easy to get resources and materials related to the examination. You can even join IT training institutions and take courses for certification preparation.
Popular online sites such as, Infosec provides you with GPEN courses. There are hundreds of guide books, training videos, and documentation to help you with the examination. You can also check out our ExamPirate for more free Questions and answers.
Exam Certification Objectives


Objective Outcomes

Attacking Password Hashes

Candidates will achieve and perform password hashes and different password types.

Exploitation Fundamentals

The aspirant will have the skill to demonstrate basic concepts associated with the initial exploitation phase of a pentest.

Kerberos Attacks

Demonstration of an understanding of these attacks against the Active Directory that includes Kerberos Exploitation.

Domain Escalation and persistence Attacks

Candidates will be required to demonstrate the understanding of normal Windows privilege escalation attack methods that are helpful to consolidate and persist administrator access to the active Directory.

Advanced Password Attacks

Candidates will be competent to utilize additional methods for attack password hashes and authentication

Escalation and Exploitation

Candidates will adhere to the demonstration of the fundamental concepts of exploitation, data exfiltration, and pivoting to exploit hosts within the target network.


Candidates will be able to demonstrate a complete understanding of the core concepts of reconnaissance and know the basics of methods of obtaining high-level information about the targeted organization, host, or network often categorized as information leakage, including board technical public contacts, IP addresses range, documents, and support systems.

Penetration testing and planning

Candidates will successfully demonstrate the concepts associated with penetration testing and utilize process-oriented methods for testing and reporting.

Password Formats and Hashes

Candidates will possess the skills required to demonstrate common password hashes and formats for storing password data.


Candidates will have the required diligence to use and configure the Metasploit Framework in an intermediate environment.

Moving files with exploits

Candidates will use exploits to move files from remote systems.

Penetration Testing with  Powershell and with Windows Command line

Candidates will be required to demonstrate the use of advanced Windows command line skills in the period of penetration testing and the use of advanced Windows Powershell diligence.

Password attacks

Candidates will be able to identify types of password attacks, their formats, defense systems, and the situation to use each password attack. They will also be able to perform password guessing attacks.

Web Application  Reconnaissance

Candidates will display an overall understanding of the tools and proxies used to locate web application vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability Scanning

Candidates will have the ability to conduct vulnerability scans and analyze the outcomes.

Scanning and Host discovery

Candidates will be able to utilize approachable techniques to scan the network required for potential host targets. These include port scanning, OS system versions and scans, and evaluating the results.

Web Application Injection Attacks

Candidates will display the competence of injection attacks' overall operation against web applications and how they can be performed.

Skills Required To Take Up The Exam
  • Candidates require Knowledge of  Ethical hacking and reconnaissance attacks. 
  • Competence skills and experience in Cybersecurity
  • Should be able to perform vulnerability assessment and Risk analysis
  • Should be able to plan and organize the incident response team to come up with countermeasures.
  • Should be familiar with methodologies used by security analysts to protect from  attacks
  • Develop policies and plans to manage different security gaps occurring in a business.
  • GPEN candidates will require a firm understanding of Windows and Linux Operating systems and Networking, including TCP/IP protocols and cryptography.

After Passing Up The Exam, Candidates Will Be Able To:

  • Identify security measures best suitable for the type of information.
  • Protecting sensitive and personal information from hackers, attackers, and unauthorized access or use.
  • Testing security strategies and defenses.
  • Identify potential security risks.
  • Deploying effective security policies into technical implementation.
  • Report and react to incidents.
  • Develop an incident response plan. 
  • Running vulnerability tests and updating defensive protocols.
  • Check security device status and test security logs, and present them to the chief.
  • Develop a methodological understanding of which security tests are carried out.

Benefits of  GPEN Certification 

The certification provides benefits for both individuals: candidate pursuing the certification and employee that wants team growth. Some of the benefits that individuals and employees get from this certification are listed below:

Benefits of GPEN Certification On Individuals

  1. For network administrators and system analysts, The GPEN certification program provides additional confidence in identifying what kind of tasks need to be carried out to protect systems and networks and determine the skills to carry out these tasks.
  2. Many reputed Organizations and even government agencies have validity over GPEN certification for new job prospects.
  3. GPEN certification assures the candidates that these professionals can keep their skills and knowledge through periodic recertification and access to the latest updates.
  4. It provides individuals with Credibility and adds value to their resume indicating they have the appropriate skills and experience required to work in a very high-tech- environment.
  5. Candidates are confident while searching for jobs in the companies, as many huge institutions provide certified staff.

Benefits of GPEN Certification on Employees:

  • SANS training provides network and system administrators with the competence diligence required to meet their security responsibilities.
  • Adding GPEN certificates to their resume, the company always trusts them to carry out security tasks confidently.
  • G Pen candidates working in an institution have proven to be the best employees whose career CV seems to achieve drastic success throughout their careers.
  • They are appreciated by security experts and are recommended for higher-level Security programs.

Additionally, GPEN certification adds personal and team value to work as a team for the company's security. It is a way to verify that they are individually and technically sound to work for high-level security parties. Secondly, it is a new way to test and evaluate employees adding Goodwill to the company.

This certification offers all kinds of pros that one can achieve. The candidates are required to be aware of all the advanced tasks carried by the security teams. Not only that, but they are also capable of carrying out completely new methodologies used for security tests and such plans that are familiar to company policies

Areas Covered

The domain covered by GPEN includes:

  1. Penetration test Planning, Scoping, and Recon
  2. Through Password Attacks and Web pen-Testing
  3. Deep Scanning and Exploitation, Pre-Exploitation, Post Exploitation, and Pivoting

Career Prospects Provided By GPEN

GPEN and OSCP certifications are essential certifications in the market that ethical hackers and penetration testers must pursue. These certifications require working knowledge and diligence relational to fieldwork that focuses on hands-on offensive Information security skills.

They have a variety of applications to the cybersecurity domain. This certification acts as a career booster for any security individual that can work in any environment they are provided. Some of the areas where GPEN introduces to the certified candidates include:

  1. Security Analyst
  2. Cryptographer
  3. Security Engineer
  4. Security Architect
  5. Security Software developer
  6. Security Consultants
  1. Security Analyst: Security analysts are personnel that manages, install, and performs all the upgrades to software on systems and networks that they monitor. These professionals ensure all the software is up to date with the system that allows these systems to monitor for possible threats and attacks constantly.
  2. Cryptographer: They are concerned with all aspects of Cryptography. Tasks such as map-making, researching, acquiring, storing, and manipulating data types.

  3. Security Engineer: Security Engineers are competent in designing computer systems that can deal with any attack and branches and update Defense systems with the latest Threat signatures.

  4. Security Architect: Security Architect performs assessments on information technology and computer systems by determining their strengths and weaknesses. They perform pen-testing, risk assessment, and white hacks on LAN, WAN, and VPN.

  5. Security Software developer: They develop security software and integrate security into software during the software development lifecycle. They primarily develop updates and patches for Security software.

  6. Security consultants: They assess all Security methods for their organization or clients institutes. They evaluate security systems and recommend major security decisions.

Online Exam Available

Recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the mandatory closure of testing centers all around the world.  Because these students that were going to attempt the examination have been severely affected. To mitigate this, GIAC announced its partnership with ProctorU, a popular, trusted exam delivery service to provide students with remote exam delivery.
Starting from May 18, 2020, GIAC clients can take their examinations remotely. With SANS Institute now providing online training via OnDemand and live Online Platforms, GIAC's introducing remote Proctoring helps students get training and certified from any location at a suitable time after scheduling.

Exam 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 as a 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.

How to Prepare for Certification Exam?

Preparing for such a valuable certification, appropriate skills, and guidance is required. You must effectively start your preparation. The starting surely depends upon your whole preparation. You are provided with limited preparation time and limited resources as well. But this time and resources can be very valuable for boosting your preparation if you go for the correct approach. The certification is primarily designed for professionals whose responsibilities include evaluating target network systems for identifying network security vulnerabilities.

The syllabus provided by GIAC covers all the legal issues accompanied by penetration testing, technical and non-technical skills to carry out a pen-test and define and categorize vulnerabilities. The certification is a Highly advanced Information security validation that focuses majorly on the types of attacks and attempts of breaches affecting an organization's system. To prevent this, candidates must have proper skills and knowledge to understand and involve in exploits and regular penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities and threats that might penalize the whole system.  Some of the important steps to follow for the preparation of the GPEN examination includes:

1. Start with Basics

The first and most obvious step to start your preparation is to start with the basics. If you are a complete beginner with the certification, you must first understand the whole contents of the GPEN examination thoroughly. To do that, you need first to get some kind of training. Though you can take online training videos and online PDF documentation about the GPEN exam contents, you recommend taking training via Institutions. 

There you will be guided from the beginning and will be taught all the core concepts of the Course. This will allow you to have a thorough idea about the topics, which will ultimately help assess which topic to give major focus on. An expert will assess you through your course, which will provide all the relevant sources you can allocate your resources and materials to start practicing for the examination.

They will also conduct weekly assessment tests and examinations, ultimately testing your skills and knowledge of GPEN. There are 100s of institutions that provide you with this training. Besides this, you can also tutor online from the SANS institute that provides you with a full course at an affordable price. You will also have lab sessions, discussion sessions, and conferences to brief you with additional information to prepare for the exam.

After you finally take the course, you will need to register for the examination online through the Official GIAC account. You will then have 4 months to prepare for the examination. Now we can jump to step number 2.

2. Make a Study Plan

Introducing yourself to a correct Study Plan is an important part of your preparation. As the examination nears its date, you will have to stick to a specific study plan to help you study effectively. The first proper way of making a perfect study plan might be to identify your study's time. Usually, Mornings are considered an effective time to study because it has a higher chance of you grasping the contents and understanding the topics. Take frequent breaks to freshen up your mind and drink water from time to time. This will clear your brain and help you to learn more in less time. Try to memorize the concepts rather than words which will help you to remember for a longer period. 

Highlight important concepts and topics that you find you should focus on more. To include proper preparation techniques, you must first ask yourself these questions and start answering if you are committed to learning the exam questions:

  1. Which amount of study material do I need to include?
  2. What is the structure in which GPEN exam questions are made?
  3. What will the certification do to my career?
  4. What is the score target I must achieve?
  5. Which domain should I focus on?

After answering these questions, you will have a proper mindset on what to go for. You need to map out all the materials and make a schedule answering what, when, why, and how much I need to study per day. You can further make goals for each day, promising yourself what you will achieve by the end of the day. With this, you will thrive to achieve the goal to fulfill your practice in the long term eventually.

3. Take Practise Tests

After you have assured yourself that you have completed your study plan, your preparation's second phase is entirely focused on practicing the exam questions.  You need to create a virtual environment of the actual examination and have the mindset to take up the real examination. This includes using a timer and following the guidelines of the examination. Since the time is 180 minutes, you need to invest at least 2 minutes in one question. Firstly, I read the question and tried to understand the main summary of the question.

After this, you need to spend 1 more minute for a thorough understanding of the question. You need to note the important data or situation given by the question, evaluate it, and go for the answer. Taking practice tests is vital for your preparation. It will enhance your skills, such as time management, question assessment, and solving efficiency. It will provide you with real scenarios of how the exam should be taken. After you register for the GIAC certification exam, you will have the authorization of two practice tests. You should practice these online on the GIAC website.

These tests are an excellent way to prepare for the real examination. These tests will also give you feedback about any mistake you made in answering the question. Along with this official practice test, you can also check ExamPirate for more GPEN practice questions. Try to make the target of above 90 percent as the passing percent itself is 75 percent. Go for practice question discussion sessions on youtube which will explain how the answer is correct. 

4. Make an Index

Every candidate has a way of studying for the exam. GIAC exams are open-book format; the most obvious way of preparing for the GIAC exam is by making an index for the books you want to bring to the examination. Most people prefer SANS books.  This will maximize your chances of getting the questions right and passing the examination.

5. Learn from GIAC Examinee’s Experience 

Many experts have written their experiences on taking their First GPEN examination. They have shared all their knowledge about the certification and the impact it has made in their lives. The following blog posts are important for you to read to prepare for the exam.

  1. JD Murray has explained briefly the study plan and exam experiences he had during his preparation course for the certification.
  2. You can check out Josh Armentrout's multiple posts on how he took the exam and how the certification experience he gained helped him in his career.
  3. Lesley Carhart has developed a guideline on a page that describes the GIAC exams on her website. He has achieved 5 different GIAC certifications.
  4. You can also check out Austin Songer's Easy Guide on GPEN Certified Penetration tester, which provides you with exam tips and tricks, and models. 

You can also join forums, social sites, and groups for the GIAC certifications. These online associations are filled with people with the same interest as yours and can benefit from having discussions and online conferences about the preparation of the examination. There are experts, beginners, and professionals in the group who are willing to share their stories and resources they found helpful.

There are daily quizzes available in the groups you can solve and get your doubts cleared up. Just look out for individuals that are also practicing for the examination. Try to know their study plan on how they are practicing for the exam. Take frequent tests and mark your score target. Remember, practice makes a man perfect, so hard work is always the key. After you feel confident in yourself taking the exam, then register for the exam.


After you are clear about the kind of approach you should take for the preparation examination, you will know what and how much you should give yourself for the exam preparation. Keeping a positive attitude towards the exam is the first thing you need to have because if you're not confident enough if you don't believe in your problem assessment techniques, it will affect the outcome. After you understand the certification's worth to your career, you go for the execution with effective effort.

Cybersecurity is the kind of domain that introduces many fresh technologies every day. Along with this comes new threats and attacks as well. Candidates need to get updated about these issues. The GPEN certification validates candidates with capabilities and skills to maintain information security and create structured environments to perform penetration testing, risk analysis, threat assessment, and system protection. 

The GPEN certification is popular as nearly 75000  certification holders are provided with placement opportunities in reputable government and non-governmental institutions. The certification is designed to make a person capable of working in a highly expert environment.

GPEN Certification Audiences

The GPEN is the technical certification displaying an individual's understanding of utilizing a process-oriented penetration testing and reporting approach. They have some expertise in ethical hacking using the methodological approach to the whole environment. It is necessary to identify the target audiences for this certification. Professionals who might enjoy the GPEN certification involve:

  • IT security auditors
  • Ethical hackers
  • Cybersecurity specialists
  • Incident responders and computer forensic investigators
  • Penetration testers who perform security assessments
  • Red Team members
  • Blue Team members