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SANS GSEC versus Security+ Certification

SANS GSEC is a much more advanced certification than Security+, so there is not much of a comparison, but this is a fairly common question I receive.

SANS GSEC is a much more highly regarded certification than Security+ as it is much more comprehensive and in-depth, and also requires retaking the exam every four years, as compared to Security+ which is a certification for life.

The SANS GSEC material is a superset of Security+.

For example I recently taught a SANS Security Essentials Bootcamp at the Quantico Marine Base. This is the prep class for the SANS GSEC certification. The students in my class needed to receive either the Security+ or SANS GSEC certification to satisfy something known as the DoD 8570 directive.

At the end of the class, they were prepared (with some additional study depending on their experience) to take either the SANS GSEC or Security+ exam. In fact the Security+ class I teach contains roughly 30-40% of the material in the SANS Security Essentials Bootcamp. Many of the slides are exactly the same, although some are "dumbed down" for lack of a better term.

Most of them planned on taking the Security+ exam as it's easier and satisfied the DoD 8570 requirement just like the more difficult GSEC exam. In the end, many switched to taking the GSEC instead as it's simply more valuable, especially if looking for a civilian job some day.

The Security+ certification, being entry level, is a reasonable stepping stone for a beginner in Information Security (or Information Assurance as it's known in government). If you are a beginner, it's going to be fairly hard. The GSEC is a couple of levels of difficulty higher and has much more cachet.

Ted Demopoulos at Caesars Palace
Ted Demopoulos,  Caesars Palace


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