CPRs: Community Project Requirements


Community Project Requirements

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The community of security professionals in government, commercial, and academic and research organizations is a powerful force for good. They often work together in ad hoc teams to fight against cyber crime and to help organizations block attacks or recover from attacks.

When they learn about a major new vulnerability and wonder how best to respond, or when their organization is attacked and they are seeking tools that can help them defend their systems, security practitioners look to their network of fellow practitioners for ideas, proven techniques and help in avoiding major mistakes.

The SANS Technology Institute education provides opportunities for you to build your own network of security professionals from the other students and the faculty. These are the people you can call on and who can call on you, when in need. This is such an important component of your education that we have engineered team activities into the programs to enrich your educational experience, to begin contributing to the security community, and to expand your network of peers. The projects, which involve research, writing and speaking, are graded. The sum of your scores on your team exercises will be your final Community Project grade, which will be based on the following components.

1. Joint Written Project

For each course you take, you will be assigned to a Joint Written Project team. The faculty will select a Learning Object (LO) for your team, which will carry out the following exercises.

  • Perform a critical analysis of LO with respect to objectives articulated in the outcome statement
  • Perform a gap analysis and determine the project steps to improve the LO
  • Conduct original research on new developments that may have altered the LO subject matter
  • Create an assessment tool to measure whether students have mastered the subject material
  • Submit the project results for evaluation and grading. There are no individual grades for this project: the team's grade applies to each member.

2. Presentations at the Residential Institutes

Residential Institutes offer unique opportunities to build strong and lasting relationships through shared experience with other students, and to develop relationships with the Institute's faculty. Even though most of the work in Information Security is done virtually, there is no substitute for real-life meetings, which can lead to familiarity and trust. Students will attend a minimum of three Residential Institutes (RI) to learn in an immersion setting and to develop a sense of community and teamwork with peers and faculty. In at least two Residential Institutes, students will give a presentation based on their GIAC Gold research. Student presentations will be evaluated by a faculty member, by other students, and by the general SANS student population.

NOTE: While there may be exceptions to support international students, in general, Residential Institutes are held only in conjunction with our larger conferences (SANS Annual Conference, SANS Network Security, SANSFIRE, and SANS Cyber Defense Initiative.)

3. Work Study at your first Residential Institute

At your first Residential Institute, you will participate in the SANS Work Study Program. In addition to attending class, you will be a part of a live SANS conference. Teamwork is the primary focus of your first RI and as a side benefit, you will probably develop relationships that last for years. Your performance will be evaluated by a SANS staff member with extensive experience in the management of the Community Residential Program.

NOTE: When you participate in the work-study program, your course fees are reduced. A student may request more than one work-study opportunity, as part of the SANS Technology Institute financial aid package, but a grade will be given only for the work they do at the first Residential Institute they attend as a Master of Science candidate.

4. Activities at subsequent Residential Institutes

At your second Residential Institute, you will arrive one day early and participate in a group discussion and project. As a leader, you will be expected to deal with situations with short turnaround times; this project allows you to demonstrate those skills and to improve them. A problem will be presented to your team in the morning, and as a team, you prepare to present a recommended solution to senior management (CEO) in the evening. There is a group grade for this Residential Institute.

Leaders have to be good at troubleshooting, whether the problem is technical, process or personal. At your third Residential Institute, you will participate as a class proctor. A proctor's job is to help other students, and that usually involves a lot of troubleshooting. The instructor in the room will observe your grace under fire as you face various challenges, and then evaluate your performance. A side benefit of Residential Institute III is that a proctor fee will be counted against tuition to save money for the student's sponsoring organization. As proctors, students will have access to the SANS faculty speaker ready room to enhance their relationships with the SANS faculty. For successful students, this can be the milestone event during which they become a full-fledged member of the defensive information security community.

5. Your Final Community-Building Milestone

Your final community-building milestone has two objectives: one for you and one for the community. Pax Scienta (Peace through Knowledge) is possible in cyber space only if all users are capable of protecting their systems.

To help build that knowledge and to help you improve your speaking skills, we ask our students to teach the technical information security awareness program (to which your were introduced in MGT 524) right in their home town at a very low cost to the public, invited by SANS or the student. This is an important component of your training. Leaders must be excellent presenters and while many people can present their own materials, the better speakers can excel when presenting someone else's material. At least one representative from your own organization should be present when you give the course. *

NOTE: Although you will be assigned an advisor, it is your responsibility to ensure your community projects are completed in a timely manner so that your degree will not be delayed. We consider these projects as important as the courses themselves so exceptions and waivers are unlikely to be granted due to our Consistent Leadership Policy. If you have questions, please contact info@sans.org.