The demand for qualified security professionals who possess the required skills and relevant education is increasing substantially. However, the supply is not meeting the demand. The information security industry is growing in size, density and specialization. Across all businesses we need people who understand computer systems, networks and security. In order to help facilitate the growth of these information security skills hands-on training (H.O.T.) can be used to make sure that our abilities have been tested in the most realistic way possible This paper will show how to build an environment that will represent real-world security issues and their respective flaws. Topics such as incident handling, intrusion analysis, system administration, network security, forensics or penetration testing can be taught and practiced. Among other objectives, the primary goal is to grow security expertise and awareness by using a low-cost, high return and self paced hands-on training method to allow us to understand attack methods in order to create effective defenses.
This is the abstract of my paper that was just released on the SANS reading room as part of my journey to get the GIAC GCIH gold certification. I started drafting the idea of writing a paper last October. The experience was interesting, sometimes frustrating, long but with lots of fun. Essentially, I prepared all my ideas in the lab and practiced the different scenarios I wanted to share so they could be repeatable and consistent in order to be documented. In parallel I started to write some notes, do research and find references. Around last December I submitted the first draft to SANS. They accepted the paper and assigned an advisor to work with me. From that moment onwards I had a deadline of 6 months. It followed a series of back and forth with the advisor. I must admit that Dr. Johannes Ulrich from SANS was very supportive, responsive and a great mentor during the all process. I also would like to thank to Angel Parrizas for his constructive feedback during the paper creation and thoughts on the structure, Michael Bem for his help with the opening language, Grzegorz Drozda in the beginning with his SQL kung-fu and, finally, my family that had a lot of patience to deal with the long hours of computer.
My biggest challenge was the language in terms of structure, phrasing, diction, subject-verb agreement, and tense since English is a second language for me. I believe to create a paper like this you need strong motivation, willingness, persistence and family support but it is a rewarding experience and allowed me to share my experiences, learn, reinforce my knowledge and contribute to the community. I definitely recommend this exercise to anyone who is involved in the security industry.
The paper is available here!