Security Certification: GDAT

Security Certification:

GIAC Defending Advanced Threats (GDAT)


"The GDAT certification is unique in how it covers both offensive and defensive security topics in-depth. Holders of the GDAT certification have demonstrated advanced knowledge of how adversaries are penetrating networks, but also what security controls are effective to stop them. Next to knowing what controls are instrumental to prevent recent attacks, certified GDAT professionals know that prevent-only is not feasible and thus know how to detect and respond to attacks. Combining all these skills, they have the ability to prevent, detect, and respond to both traditional and APT-style attacks!" Erik Van Buggenhout, Course Author SANS SEC599: Defeating Advanced Adversaries - Purple Team Tactics & Kill Chain Defenses

Areas Covered on the GDAT

  • Advanced Persistent Threat models and methods
  • Detecting and preventing payload deliveries, exploitation, and post-exploitation activities
  • Using cyber deception to gain intelligence for threat hunting and incident response

Who is the GDAT for?

  • Security architects
  • Security engineers
  • Technical security managers
  • Security Operations Center analysts, engineers, and managers
  • Penetration testers who want to better understand how defensive controls work
  • IT administrators
  • Individuals looking to better understand how persistent cyber adversaries operate and how the IT environment can be improved to better prevent, detect, and respond to incidents

*No Specific training is required for any GIAC certification. There are many sources of information available regarding the certification objectives' knowledge areas. Practical experience is an option; there are also numerous books on the market covering Computer Information Security. Another option is any relevant courses from training providers, including SANS


  • 1 proctored exam
  • 75 questions
  • Time limit of 2 hours
  • Minimum Passing Score of 70%


Certifications must be renewed every 4 years.


NOTE: All GIAC exams are delivered through proctored test centers and must be scheduled in advance.
GIAC certification attempts will be activated in your GIAC account after your application has been approved and according to the terms of your purchase. Details on delivery will be provided along with your registration confirmation upon payment. You will receive an email notification when your certification attempt has been activated in your account. You will have 120 days from the date of activation to complete your certification attempt. GIAC exams must be proctored through Pearson VUE. Please click the following link for instructions on How to Schedule Your GIAC Proctored Exam GIAC exams are delivered online through a standard web browser.

Bulletin (Part 2 of Candidate Handbook)

Exam Certification Objectives & Outcome Statements

The topic areas for each exam part follow:

Command and Control With Exfiltration Fundamentals
The candidate will be able to explain C2 channels and what strategies attackers use in setting up a C2 channel with well known C2 channels as a reference.
Controlling scripts in the enterprise
The candidate will be able to summarize how VBS, Jscript, and Powershell scripts can be used maliciously within an environment. The candidate will be able to describe how the use of malicious scripts within an environment can be detected and prevented.
Controls for Detecting and Preventing Payload Delivery to End Users
The Candidate will be able to describe how payloads can be delivered to end users through e-mail and the web as well as how to defend against and detect their delivery.
Current Threat and Attack Landscape Along the APT Attack Cycle Outline
The candidate will recognize, at a high level, what motivates people to attack systems, what tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) are in general, and the difference between prevention and detection. The candidate will recognize how famous APTs align with the Cyber Kill Chain®.
Defining Rules and Visualizing Results
The candidate will be able to evaluate rules and configurations related to the ELK stack, Suricata, and Yara. The candidate will also be able to explain how these visualizations can be used to detect payload delivery.
Detecting and Preventing C2 and Exfiltration
The candidate will be able to summarize the differences between NetFlow and full packet capture data and where to capture the data within a given architecture. The candidate will be able to describe the different classifications of data, and the standard ways in which the data can be exfiltrated from a network.
Detecting and Preventing Installation
The candidate will be able to summarize typical persistence strategies. The candidate will be able to identify and recommend fixes for commonly found flaws that can be leveraged for persistence. The candidate will be able to evaluate how items like web shells, task schedulers, DLLs, Bootkits, and the registry can be used to gain persistence and how, along with leveraging the principle of least privilege, finding and fixing the flaws can help avoid installation of malware.
Detecting and Preventing Lateral Movement
The candidate will be able to explain how Active Directory can be used to thwart lateral movement within a network. The candidate will be able to apply an understanding of AD architecture, authentication, user and group management, and access control to harden a domained network. The candidate will be able to leverage an understanding of Sysmon to recognize lateral movement.
Endpoint Protection
The candidate will be able to compare the different ways in which vulnerabilities can be found. The candidate will be able to describe the process of protecting endpoints with the use of host based endpoint protection. The candidate will be able to evaluate the installation and configuration of endpoint protection solutions such as antivirus, firewalls, HIDS, and Application Whitelisting. The candidate will be able to summarize the Microsoft patching scheme and how patches can be reverse engineered.
Introduction to Post Event Activities
The candidate will be able to summarize and classify the SANS six step IR process; Preparation, Identification, Containment, Eradication, Recovery, and Lessons Learned.
Learning Internal Networks and Conceptualizing Defensible Architectures
The candidate will be able to compare and contrast different network architectures. The candidate will be able to evaluate an environment using common reconnaissance techniques and recognize reasonable actions to mitigate findings.
Leveraging Cyber Deception to Inform Threat Inteligence for Threat Hunting
The candidate will be able to conceptualize decoys, honeypots, and canaries. The candidate will be able to summarize the process of obtaining, sharing, and operationalizing threat intelligence which can be used to perform threat hunting.
Phases of the Software Development Lifecycle
The candidate will be able to compare and contrast the different phases of the Microsoft Software Development Lifecycle and threat modeling process.
Software Attacks and Mitigations
The candidate will recognize how popular attacks such as buffer overflows and heap spraying work and identify how implementing software protecitons such as ASLR, DEP, SafeSEH, SEHOP, Control Flow, and Stack canaries mitigate the attacks. The candidate will be able to apply the understanding of common exploit techniques to the use of common utilities in mitigating exploitation.

Where to Get Help

Training is available from a variety of resources including on line, course attendance at a live conference, and self study.

Practical experience is another way to ensure that you have mastered the skills necessary for certification. Many professionals have the experience to meet the certification objectives identified.

Finally, college level courses or study through another program may meet the needs for mastery.

The procedure to contest exam results can be found at