Cyber Security Master's Degree Curriculum

Cyber Security Master's Degree Curriculum
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Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Designed and taught by some of the world's top instructor-practitioners in cyber security, the 36-credit Master of Science in Information Security Engineering curriculum prepares working professionals in information technology and information security for all aspects of an upper-level cyber security leadership position — whether for a commercial enterprise or a government or military entity.

Earn 9 GIAC Certifications

Most courses in the master's degree curriculum culminate with GIAC certification exams. That means you will validate your skillset in critical, specialized areas of InfoSec throughout the program, emerge with 9 industry-recognized GIAC certifications, and be set up to sit for the GIAC Security Expert (GSE) lab whenever you’re ready after graduation.

View the Graduate Course Catalog

View an Example Academic Plan

  • "SANS courses are fully aligned to what is happening in the industry. Course materials are continuously updated based on new developments in cybersecurity. It is rigorous, challenging, and relevant."

    Karim Lalji
    Managing Security Consultant, TELUS

  • "You leave the program with a firm understanding of why the industry functions the way it does. You get a look under the hood. It's not just about how to manipulate the technology. It is also about learning the 'why.' If you want to become a leader, you need to know the 'why.'"

    Shawna Turner
    Principal Solutions Architect, Nike

  • "I pursued the MSISE out of delight in studying the technical side of things, but time and again the focus of the program on communication, presentation, and leadership has been on point and much needed."

    Tim Collyer
    Director of Information Security, Motorola Solutions

  • "I receive compliments from senior leadership when I present – all directly related to feedback I received from my SANS faculty research advisors. When advertises that the program changes careers, this is a concrete example – it's the best graduate program on the planet."

    Jim Horwath
    Director of Security Engineering, Guardian Life

Building Blocks for Success

The core of the cybersecurity master's degree curriculum is a carefully designed sequence of hands-on technical courses, management courses with leadership experiences, student-designed research, presentation opportunities, and a capstone.

Our faculty has newly updated the curriculum and designed a system of 4 “blocks” to provide the optimal developmental pathway through the courses. In this structure, all course prerequisites are included in prior blocks.

Curriculum | 36 credit hours

Block 1 | 9 credit hours
The master’s curriculum begins with the development of baseline skills for individual practitioners, including the technical and management foundational skills covered in the GSEC, GCIH, and GSTRT certification exams.

ISE 5101: Security Essentials

Content: SANS SEC 401 Security Essentials: Network, Endpoint, and Cloud
Assessment: GIAC GSEC
3 Credit Hours

ISE 5101 is the introductory, technically-oriented survey course in the information security engineering master's program. It establishes the foundations for designing, building, maintaining and assessing security functions at the end-user, network and enterprise levels of an organization. The faculty instruction, readings, lab exercises, and exam are coordinated to introduce and develop the core technical, management, and enterprise-level capabilities that will be developed throughout the information security engineering master's program.

ISE 5201: Hacker Techniques & Incident Response

Content: SANS SEC 504 Hacker Techniques, Exploits & Incident Handling
Assessment: GIAC GCIH
3 Credit Hours

By adopting the viewpoint of a hacker, ISE 5201 provides an in-depth focus into the critical activity of incident handling. Students are taught how to manage intrusions by first looking at the techniques used by attackers to exploit a system. Students learn responses to those techniques, which can be adopted within the framework of the incident handling process to handle attacks in an organized way. The faculty instruction, lab exercises, and exam are coordinated to develop and test a student's ability to utilize the core capabilities required for incident handling.

ISE 5601: IT Security Planning, Policy, & Leadership

Content: SANS MGT 514 Security Strategic Planning, Policy, and Leadership
Assessment: GIAC GSTRT
3 Credit Hours

ISE 5601 gives you tools to become a security business leader who can build and execute strategic plans that resonate with other business executives, create effective information security policy, and develop management and leadership skills to better lead, inspire, and motivate your teams. The course will help you to develop strategic plans, create effective information security policy, and develop management and leadership skills using case studies from Harvard Business School, case scenarios, team-based exercises, and discussions that put you in real-world situations.

Block 2 | 9 credit hours
You’ll move onto more intermediary skills in Block 2, applying and synthesizing your knowledge at the organizational level, including skills required for the GDSA, GCIA, and SSAP exams. The first half of the program concludes with a hands-on group project and the Core Comprehensive Exam, which ensures you have mastered foundational skills before moving onto more advanced coursework.

ISE 6255: Defensible Security Architecture & Engineering

Content: SANS SEC 530: Defensible Security Architecture and Engineering
Assessment: GDSA
3 Credit Hours

Effective security requires a balance between detection, prevention, and response capabilities. Defensible Security Architecture and Engineering is designed to help you establish and maintain a holistic and layered approach to security. You’ll explore the fundamentals of up-to-date defensible security architecture and how to engineer it, with a heavy focus on leveraging current infrastructure (and investment), including switches, routers, and firewalls. You’ll learn how to reconfigure these devices to significantly improve your organization’s prevention capabilities in the face of today's dynamic threat landscape. The course will also delve into the latest technologies and their capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Multiple hands-on labs will reinforce key points in the course and provide actionable skills you will be able to leverage immediately at work.

ISE 5300: Managing Human Risk: Mature Security Awareness Programs

Content: SANS MGT 433 Securing the Human: Building and Deploying an Effective Security Awareness Program
Assessment: Writing Exercise and SSAP Exam
1 Credit Hours

From phishing attacks and credential stuffing to lost devices or auto-complete in email, human risk has become the primary risk for most organizations. One of the most effective ways for an organization to manage its human risk is to build on their existing technical controls with a mature security awareness program. The program must go beyond just compliance and change organizational behaviors and ultimately, culture. In ISE 5300, you will learn the key concepts and skills to plan, maintain, and measure an effective security awareness program that makes an organization both more secure and compliant. Through a series of labs and exercises, you will develop your security awareness plan and also complete the SSAP exam.

ISE 5401: Intrusion Detection In-Depth

Content: SANS SEC 503: Intrusion Detection In-Depth
Assessment: GIAC GCIA
3 Credit Hours

ISE 5401 delivers the technical knowledge, insight, and hands-on training you need to defend your network with confidence. You will learn about the underlying theory of TCP/IP and the most used application protocols, such as DNS and HTTP, so that you can intelligently examine network traffic for signs of an intrusion. You will get plenty of practice learning to master different open source tools like tcpdump, Wireshark, Snort, Bro, tshark, and SiLK. Daily hands-on exercises suitable for all experience levels reinforce the course book material so that you can transfer knowledge to execution.

ISE 5701: Situational Response Practicum

Content: Situational Response Practicum
Assessment: Written report
1 Credit Hour

In ISE 5701, you and a small group of students will learn and be assessed on your ability to come together as a team, evaluate a situation, develop a response, and prepare recommendations for decision to a C-Level audience within forty-five (45) days. You will be put into a small group with other students and presented with an information security topic prompt. Your group will prepare a plan for researching and reporting on the assignment. Once the plan is prepared, the group will execute the plan, adjusting as necessary, to develop a report of the research completed and recommended actions.

ISE 6200: Core Comprehensive Exam

Content: Core Comprehensive Exam
1 Credit Hour

The Core Comprehensive Exam tests your mastery of the core technical skills required by top security consultants and individual practitioners. Through a series of exercises, you’ll demonstrate your ability to integrate the knowledge, skills, and techniques acquired in ISE 5101, ISE 5201, and ISE 5401 to address common challenges faced by technical leaders in the cybersecurity field.

Block 3 | 12 credit hours
In Block 3, you’ll dive into more specialized topics by taking your final management course (GCPM) and 3 elective classes. You can choose to do an optional Special Focus Area and may choose to take up to 2 additional electives. (See more about Electives and Special Focus Areas.)

ISE 5800: IT Security Project Management

Content: SANS MGT 525 IT Project Management, Effective Communication, and PMP® Exam Prep
Assessment: GIAC GCPM
3 Credit Hours

In ISE 5800 you will learn how to improve your project planning methodology and project task scheduling to get the most out of your critical IT resources. The course utilizes project case studies that highlight information technology services as deliverables. ISE 5800 follows the basic project management structure from the PMP® Guide 5th edition and also provides specific techniques for success with information assurance initiatives. All aspects of IT project management are covered — from initiating and planning projects through managing cost, time, and quality while your project is active, to completing, closing, and documenting as your project finishes.

ISE 6___: Elective

Content: SANS Class
Assessment: GIAC Exam
3 Credit Hours

In Block 3, you’ll choose 3 different technical courses from those listed in the “Elective Courses and Special Focus Areas” section below. You can take a generalist approach and select any 3 electives or choose electives within one of our optional Special Focus Areas.

ISE 6___: Elective

Content: SANS Class
Assessment: GIAC Exam
3 Credit Hours

In Block 3, you’ll choose 3 different technical courses from those listed in the “Elective Courses and Special Focus Areas” section below. You can take a generalist approach and select any 3 electives or choose electives within one of our optional Special Focus Areas.

ISE 6___: Elective

Content: SANS Class
Assessment: GIAC Exam
3 Credit Hours

In Block 3, you’ll choose 3 different technical courses from those listed in the “Elective Courses and Special Focus Areas” section below. You can take a generalist approach and select any 3 electives or choose electives within one of our optional Special Focus Areas.

Block 4 | 6 credit hours
Block 4 is a year of culminating practicums where you will integrate all foundational and specialized skills learned in the program. You’ll hone your skills in NetWars Continuous, contribute to the cybersecurity community through a unique research project of your own design, and demonstrate executive-level communication in a hand-on group project. The program concludes with the GSE entrance exam, so you’ll be poised to challenge the GSE lab whenever you’re ready after graduation.

ISE 6300: NetWars Continuous Practicum

Content: NetWars Continuous
1 Credit Hour

NetWars Continuous is an online training program that guides you through hands-on lessons to locate vulnerabilities, exploit diverse machines, and analyze systems. NetWars provides a forum to test and perfect cyber security skills in a manner that is legal and ethical. You will face challenges derived from real-world environments and actual attacks that businesses, governments, and military organizations must deal with every day.

ISE 5901: Adv. Technical Research & Communication Practicum

Assessment: Research Paper and Presentation
3 Credit Hours

ISE 5901 is an advanced graduate-level research and presentation course in which you will identify, investigate and analyze a problem. You will write a research paper interpreting the data collected and making recommendations for action. The paper will reflect original work towards a new practice, solution, tool, policy, or paradigm offering the potential for real impact in the field of information security. You will then convert written material to an oral webinar presentation in order to inform a technical audience about the topic.

ISE 6101: Security Project Practicum

Content: Security Project Practicum
Assessment: Oral Presentation, Writing Exercise
1 Credit Hour

In ISE 6101, you and a small group of students will learn and be assessed on your ability to come together as a team, evaluate a situation, demonstrate leadership, develop a response, and prepare and present recommendations for a decision to a C-Level audience within 24-hours. This course builds on what you have learned in other courses and allows you to apply that knowledge. You will be put into a small group with other students and presented with an information security topic prompt. Working as a group, you will analyze the situation, develop a technical response, and establish recommendations for an organizational response to the situation presented. After your team develops a recommended response, the group will provide written and oral reports of recommendations for action to a mixed technical/non-technical audience of executives for decision.

ISE 6901: Master's Degree Capstone

Content: Master's Degree Capstone: GSE Entrance Exam (Part 1)
1 Credit Hour

The master’s degree capstone determines if you have mastered the wide variety of skills required by top security consultants and individual practitioners. Through a series of exercises, you will demonstrate your ability to integrate the knowledge, skills, and techniques acquired in individual courses into a cohesive toolset to address common challenges faced by technical leaders in the cybersecurity field. You will complete the GSE entrance exam (Part 1), so you’ll be poised to challenge the GSE lab (Part 2) whenever you’re ready after graduation.

Elective Courses and Special Focus Areas

In Block 3, students in the master’s degree program choose 3 different technical courses from those listed below. Each elective course is 3 credit hours and has a course term of 3 months.

As a degree candidate, you can choose from two options:

  1. Take a generalist approach and select any 3 electives below, or
  2. Choose electives within one of our five optional Special Focus Areas highlighted below, to deepen your expertise in a specialized area of information security
General Electives
ISE 6001: Implementing & Auditing the Critical Security Controls

SANS class: SEC 566 Implementing and Auditing the Twenty Critical Security Controls
Assessment: GIAC GCCC
3 Credit Hours

Cybersecurity attacks are increasing and evolving so rapidly that is more difficult than ever to prevent and defend against them. ISE 6001 will help you to ensure that your organization has an effective method in place to detect, thwart, and monitor external and internal threats to prevent security breaches. As threats evolve, an organization's security should too. Standards based implementation takes a prioritized, risk-based approach to security and shows you how standardized controls are the best way to block known attacks and mitigate damage from successful attacks.

ISE 6245: SIEM with Tactical Analytics

SANS class: SEC555: SIEM with Tactical Analytics
Assessment: GCDA
3 Credit Hours

These days, it’s easy for security operations to get lost in data saturation. Designed to demystify the Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) architecture and process, this lab heavy course is focused on achieving actionable intelligence from data. To provide hands-on experience, the course navigates students through the steps of tailoring and deploying a SIEM to full Security Operations Center (SOC) integration using SOF-ELK, a SANS sponsored free SIEM solution. Throughout the course, the text and labs will not only show how to manually extract actionable intelligence from log data, correlate the data and gather input into useable formats, and start investigating based on the aggregate data to detect sophisticated intrusions, but how to automate many of these processes.

ISE 6615: Defending Web Applications Security Essentials

SANS class: SEC 522 Defending Web Applications Security Essentials
Assessment: GIAC GWEB
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6615 covers the OWASP Top 10 and provides students with a better understanding of web application vulnerabilities, enabling them to properly defend organizational web assets. Mitigation strategies from an infrastructure, architecture, and coding perspective are discussed alongside real-world implementations that really work. The testing aspect of vulnerabilities is also covered so students can ensure their application is tested for the vulnerabilities discussed in class.

Cloud Security | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, select three from the following courses.

ISE 6610: Cloud Security Essentials | SEC 488, GCLD

SANS class: SEC 488 Cloud Security Essentials
Assessment: GIAC GCLD
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6610: Cloud Security Essentials will equip you to implement appropriate security controls in the cloud, often using automation to “inspect what you expect.” Mature cloud service providers (CSPs) have created a variety of security services that can help customers use their products in a more secure manner, but much about cloud security still resides with the customer organization. This course covers real-world lessons using security services created by the CSPs as well as open-source tools. Each lesson features hands-on lab exercises to help you practice the lessons learned. You will progressively layer multiple security controls in order to end the course with a functional security architecture implemented in the cloud. The course begins by addressing one of the most crucial aspects of the cloud — Identity and Access Management (IAM). From there, you will learn to secure the cloud through discussion and practical, hands-on exercises related to several key topics to defend various cloud workloads operating in the different CSP models of: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

You will be able to:

  • Identify the risks and risk control ownership based on the deployment models and service delivery models of the various products offered by cloud service providers (CSPs)
  • Evaluate the trustworthiness of CSPs based on their security documentation, service features, third-party attestations, and position in the global cloud ecosystem
  • Create accounts and use the services of any one the leading CSPs and be comfortable with the self-service nature of the public cloud, including finding documentation, tutorials, pricing, and security features
  • Articulate the business and security implications of a multi-cloud strategy
  • Secure access to the consoles used to access the CSP environments
  • Use command line interfaces to query assets and identities in the cloud environment
  • Use hardening benchmarks, patching, and configuration management to achieve and maintain an engineered state of security for the cloud environment
  • Evaluate the logging services of various CSPs and use those logs to provide the necessary accountability for events that occur in the cloud environment
  • Configure the command line interface (CLI) and properly protect the access keys to minimize the risk of compromised credentials
  • Use basic Bash and Python scripts to automate tasks in the cloud
  • Implement network security controls that are native to both AWS and Azure
  • Employ an architectural pattern to automatically create and provision patched and hardened virtual machine images to multiple AWS accounts
  • Use Azure Security Center to audit the configuration in an Azure deployment and identify security issues
  • Use Terraform to deploy a complete "infrastructure as code" environment to multiple cloud providers
  • Leverage the Cloud Security Alliance Cloud Controls Matrix to select the appropriate security controls for a given cloud network security architecture and assess a CSP's implementation of those controls using audit reports and the CSP's shared responsibility model
  • Follow the penetration testing guidelines put forth by AWS and Azure to invoke your “inner red teamer” to compromise a full stack cloud application
  • Use logs from cloud services and virtual machines hosted in the cloud to detect a security incident and take appropriate steps as a first responder according to a recommended incident response methodology
  • Perform a preliminary forensic file system analysis of a compromised virtual machine to identify indicators of compromise and create a file system timeline
ISE 6612: Public Cloud Security: AWS, Azure, and GCP | SEC 510, GIAC exam under development

SANS class: SEC 510 Public Cloud Security: AWS, Azure, and GCP
Assessment: GIAC certification under development
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6620, Public Cloud Security: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) teaches students how the major cloud providers work and how to securely configure and use their services and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings.

ISE 6620, Public Cloud Security: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) teaches students how the major cloud providers work and how to securely configure and use their services and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings. This course provides cloud security practitioners, analysts, and researchers with an in-depth understanding of the inner workings of the most popular public cloud providers: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and GCP. You will learn industry-renowned standards and methodologies, such as the MITRE ATT&CK Cloud Matrix and CIS Cloud Benchmarks, then apply that knowledge in hands-on exercises to assess a modern web application that leverages the cloud native offerings of each provider. Through this process you will learn the philosophies that undergird each provider and how these have influenced their services.

You will be prepared to:

  • Understand the inner workings of cloud services and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings in order to make more informed decisions in the cloud
  • Understand the design philosophies that undergird each provider and how these have influenced their services in order to properly prescribe security solutions for them
  • Discover the unfortunate truth that many cloud services are adopted before their security controls are fully fleshed out
  • Understand Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in depth
  • Understand the intricacies of Identity and Access Management, one of the most fundamental concepts in the cloud and yet one of the last understood
  • Understand cloud networking and how locking it down is a critical aspect of defense in depth in the cloud
  • Analyze how each provider handles encryption at rest and in transit in order to prevent sensitive data loss
  • Explore the service offering landscape to discover what is driving the adoption of multiple cloud platforms and to assess the security of services at the bleeding edge
  • Understand the complex connections between cloud accounts, providers, and on-premise systems and the cloud
  • Perform secure data migration to and from the cloud
  • Understand Terraform Infrastructure-as-Code well enough to share it with your engineering team as a starting point for implementing the controls discussed in the course
ISE 6615: Defending Web Applications Security Essentials | SEC 522, GWEB

SANS class: SEC 522 Defending Web Applications Security Essentials
Assessment: GIAC GWEB
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6615 presents mitigation strategies from an infrastructure, architecture, and coding perspective alongside real-world techniques that have been proven to work. The course introduces the nature of each vulnerability to help you understand why it happens, then shows you how to identify the vulnerability and provide options to mitigate it.

To maximize the benefit for a wider range of audiences, the discussions in this course will be programming language agnostic. The focus will be maintained on security strategies rather than coding-level implementation.

The course is particularly well suited to application security analysts, developers, application architects, pen testers, auditors who are interested in recommending proper mitigations for web security issues, and infrastructure security professionals who have an interest in enhancing the defense of web applications. The course will also cover additional issues the authors have found to be important in their day-to-day web application development practices.

The topics covered include:

  • The OWASP Top 10
  • Selected specific web application issues from the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors
  • Infrastructure security and configuration management
  • Securely integrating cloud components into a web application
  • Authentication and authorization mechanisms, including single sign-on patterns
  • Application language configuration
  • Application coding errors like SQL injection, cross-site request forgery, and cross-site scripting
  • Web 2.0 and its use of web services (REST/SOAP)
  • Cross-domain web request security
  • Business logic flaws
  • Protective HTTP headers
ISE 6630: Cloud Penetration Testing | SEC 588, GCPN

SANS class: SEC 588 Cloud Penetration Testing
Assessment: GIAC GCPN
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6630 dives into the latest in penetration testing techniques focused on the cloud, how to assess cloud environments, as well as other new topics that appear in the cloud like microservices, in-memory data stores, files in the cloud, serverless functions, Kubernetes meshes, and containers. The course also specifically covers Azure and AWS penetration testing, which is particularly important given that Amazon Web Services and Microsoft account for more than half of the market. The goal is not to demonstrate these technologies, but rather to teach you how to assess and report on the true risk that the organization could face if these services are left insecure.

Students will be able to:

  • Conduct cloud-based penetration tests
  • Assess cloud environments and bring value back to the business by locating vulnerabilities
  • Understand how cloud environments are constructed and how to scale factors into the gathering of evidence
  • Assess security risks in Amazon and Microsoft Azure environments
ISE 6650: Cloud Security and DevOps Automation | SEC 540, GCSA

SANS class: SEC 540 Cloud Security and DevOps Automation
Assessment: GIAC GCSA
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6650 provides development, operations, and security professionals with a methodology to build and deliver secure infrastructure and software using DevOps and cloud services. Students will explore how DevOps principles, practices, and tools of DevOps can improve the reliability, integrity, and security of on-premise and cloud-hosted applications. You will gain hands-on experience using popular tools such as Jenkins, GitLab, Puppet, Vault, and Grafana to automate Configuration Management ("Infrastructure as Code"), Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD), cloud infrastructure, containerization, micro-segmentation, Functions as a Service (FaaS), Compliance as Code, and Continuous Monitoring.

You will be prepared to:

  • Recognize how DevOps works and identify keys to success
  • Utilize Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment workflows, patterns, and tools
  • Identify the security risks and issues associated with DevOps and Continuous Delivery
  • Use DevOps practices to secure DevOps tools and workflows
  • Conduct effective risk assessments and threat modeling in a rapidly changing environment
  • Design and write automated security tests and checks in CI/CD
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of different automated testing approaches in Continuous Delivery
  • Implement self-serve security services for developers
  • Inventory and patch your software dependencies
  • Threat model and secure your build and deployment environment
  • Automate configuration management using Infrastructure as Code
  • Secure container technologies (such as Docker and Kubernetes)
  • Build continuous monitoring feedback loops from production to engineering
  • Securely manage secrets for continuous integration servers and applications
  • Automate compliance and security policy scanning
  • Understand how to automate cloud architecture components
  • Use CloudFormation and Terraform to create Infrastructure as Code
  • Build CI/CD pipelines using Jenkins and CodePipeline
  • Wire security scanning into Jenkins and CodePipeline workflows
  • Containerize applications with Elastic Container Service and Azure Kubernetes Service
  • Integrate cloud logging and metrics with Grafana
  • Create Slack alerts from CloudWatch metrics
  • Manage secrets with Vault, KMS, and the SSM Parameter store
  • Protect static content with CloudFront Signatures
  • Leverage Elastic Container Service for blue/green deployments
  • Secure REST APIs with API Gateway
  • Implement an API Gateway custom authorization Lambda function
  • Deploy the AWS WAF and build custom WAF rules
  • Perform continuous compliance scans with CloudMapper
  • Enforce cloud configuration policies with Cloud Custodian
Cyber Defense Operations | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, select three of the following courses.

ISE 6215: Advanced Security Essentials

SANS class: SEC 501 Advanced Security Essentials - Enterprise Defender
Assessment: GIAC GCED
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6215 reinforces the theme that prevention is ideal, but detection is a must. Students will learn how to ensure that their organizations constantly improve their security posture to prevent as many attacks as possible. A key focus is on data protection, securing critical information no matter whether it resides on a server, in robust network architectures, or on a portable device.

Despite an organization's best effort at preventing attacks and protecting its critical data, some attacks will still be successful. Therefore students will also learn how to detect attacks in a timely fashion through an in-depth understanding the traffic that flows on networks, scanning for indications of an attack. The course also includes instruction on performing penetration testing, vulnerability analysis, and forensics.

ISE 6230: Securing Windows & PowerShell Automation

SANS class: SEC 505 Securing Windows and PowerShell Automation
Assessment: GIAC GCWN
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6230 shows students how to secure servers, workstations and portable devices running Microsoft Windows. Windows is the most frequent target of hackers and advanced malware. While other courses focus on detection or remediation of a compromise after the fact, the aim of this course is to substantially reduce these compromises in the first place. For scalability and automation, this course includes many hands-on labs with Group Policy and PowerShell scripting. No prior scripting experience is required. Learning at least the basics of PowerShell is an essential skill for anyone who manages Windows servers or clients in an enterprise. This course applies the Critical Security Controls to Windows, so it is a natural follow-on to ISE 6001 (SEC566), which is a required course for the curriculum.

ISE 6240: Continuous Monitoring and Security Operations

SANS class: SEC 511 Continuous Monitoring and Security Operations
Assessment: GIAC GMON
3 Credit Hours

ISE6240 teaches a proactive approach to enterprise security that presumes attackers will penetrate your environment and therefore emphasizes timely incident detection. The Defensible Security Architecture, Network Security Monitoring, Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation, and Continuous Security Monitoring taught in this course - aligned with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines described in NIST SP 800-137 for Continuous Monitoring (CM) -- are designed to enable you and your organization to analyze threats and detect anomalies that could indicate cybercriminal behavior.

ISE 6250: Purple Team Tactics & Kill Chain Defenses

SANS class: SEC 599 Defeating Advanced Adversaries - Purple Team Tactics & Kill Chain Defenses
Assessment: GIAC GDAT
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6250 leverages the purple team concept by bringing together red and blue teams for maximum effect. Recognizing that a prevent-only strategy is not sufficient, the course focuses on current attack strategies and how they can be effectively mitigated and detected using a Kill Chain structure. Throughout the course, the purple team principle will be maintained, where attack techniques are first explained in-depth, after which effective security controls are introduced and implemented.

Incident Response | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, select three of the following courses.

ISE 6420: Computer Forensic Investigations - Windows

SANS class: FOR 500: Windows Forensic Analysis
Assessment: GIAC GCFE
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6420 Computer Forensic Investigations - Windows focuses on the critical knowledge of the Windows Operating System that every digital forensic analyst needs to investigate computer incidents successfully. Students learn how computer forensic analysts focus on collecting and analyzing data from computer systems to track user-based activity that can be used in internal investigations or civil/criminal litigation. The course covers the methodology of in-depth computer forensic examinations, digital investigative analysis, and media exploitation so each student will have complete qualifications to work as a computer forensic investigator helping to solve and fight crime.

ISE 6425: Advanced Digital Forensics, Incident Response, & Threat Hunting

SANS class: FOR 508 Advanced Digital Forensics, Incident Response, and Threat Hunting
Assessment: GIAC GCFA
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6425 teaches the necessary capabilities for forensic analysts and incident responders to identify and counter a wide range of threats within enterprise networks, including economic espionage, hacktivism, and financial crime syndicates. The course shows students how to work as digital forensic analysts and incident response team members to identify, contain, and remediate sophisticated threats-including nation-state sponsored Advanced Persistent Threats and financial crime syndicates. Students work in a hands-on lab developed from a real-world targeted attack on an enterprise network in order to learn how to identify what data might be stolen and by whom, how to contain a threat, and how to manage and counter an attack.

ISE 6440: Advanced Network Forensics and Analysis

SANS class: FOR 572 Advanced Network Forensics and Analysis
Assessment: GIAC GNFA
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6440: Advanced Network Forensics and Analysis focuses on the most critical skills needed to mount efficient and effective post-incident response investigations. Moving beyond the host-focused experiences in ISE 6420 and ISE 6425, ISE 6440 covers the tools, technology, and processes required to integrate network evidence sources into investigations, covering high-level NetFlow analysis, low-level pcap exploration, and ancillary network log examination. Hands-on exercises in FOR 572 cover a wide range of open source and commercial tools, and real-world scenarios help the student learn the underlying techniques and practices to best evaluate the most common types of network-based attacks.

ISE 6445: Cyber Threat Intelligence

SANS class: FOR 578 Cyber Threat Intelligence
Assessment: GIAC GCTI
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6445 will equip you, your security team, and your organization in the tactical, operational, and strategic level cyber threat intelligence skills and tradecraft required to better understand the evolving threat landscape and to accurately and effectively counter those threats. This course focuses on structured analysis in order to establish a solid foundation for any security skillset and to amplify existing skills.

ISE 6450: Advanced Smartphone Forensics

SANS class: FOR585: Advanced Smartphone Forensics
Assessment: GIAC GASF
3 Credit Hours

The focus of ISE 6450 is on teaching students how to perform forensic examinations on devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Students will add to their forensics skills with this course's focus on the advanced skills of mobile forensics, device file system analysis, mobile application behavior, event artifact analysis and the identification and analysis of mobile device malware. Students will learn how to detect, decode, decrypt, and correctly interpret evidence recovered from mobile devices. The course features a number of hands-on labs that allow students to analyze different datasets from smart devices and leverage the best forensic tools and custom scripts to learn how smartphone data hide and can be easily misinterpreted by forensic tools.

ISE 6460: Reverse-Engineering Malware

SANS class: FOR 610 Reverse-Engineering Malware: Malware Analysis Tools and Techniques
Assessment: GIAC GREM
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6460 teaches students how to examine and reverse engineer malicious programs - spyware, bots, Trojans, etc. - that target or run on Microsoft Windows, within browser environments such as JavaScript or Flash files, or within malicious document files (including Word and PDF). The course builds a strong foundation for reverse-engineering malicious software using a variety of system and network monitoring utilities, a disassembler, a debugger and other tools. The malware analysis process taught in this class helps students understand how incident responders assess the severity and repercussions of a situation that involves malicious software and plan recovery steps. Students also experience how forensics investigators learn to understand key characteristics of malware discovered during the examination, including how to establish indicators of compromise (IOCs) for scoping and containing the incident.

Industrial Control Systems | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, complete the following three courses.

ISE 6515: ICS/SCADA Security Essentials

SANS class: ICS 410 ICS/SCADA Security Essentials
Assessment: GIAC GICSP
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6515 ICS/SCADA Security Essentials is an introductory study of how information technologies and operational technologies have converged in today's industrial control system environments. This convergence has led to a greater need than ever for a common understanding between the various groups who support or rely on these systems. Students in ISE 6515 will learn the language, the underlying theory, and the basic tools for industrial control system security in settings across a wide range of industry sectors and applications.

ISE 6520: ICS Active Defense and Incident Response

SANS class: ICS 515 ICS Active Defense and Incident Response
Assessment: GIAC GRID
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6520 will empower students to understand their networked industrial control system environment, monitor it for threats, perform incident response against identified threats, and learn from interactions with the adversary to enhance network security.

ISE 6525: Essentials for NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection

SANS class: ICS 456 Essentials for NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection
Assessment: GIAC GCIP
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6525 empowers students with knowledge of the "what" and the "how" of the version 5/6 standards. The course addresses the role of FERC, NERC and the Regional Entities, provides multiple approaches for identifying and categorizing BES Cyber Systems and helps asset owners determine the requirements applicable to specific implementations. Additionally, the course covers implementation strategies for the version 5/6 requirements with a balanced practitioner approach to both cybersecurity benefits, as well as regulatory compliance.

Penetration Testing | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, select three of the following courses.

ISE 6315: Web App Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking

SANS class: SEC 542 Web App Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking
Assessment: GIAC GWAPT
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6315 is a highly technical information security course in offensive strategies where students learn the art of exploiting Web applications so they can find flaws in enterprise Web apps before they are otherwise discovered and exploited. Through detailed, hands-on exercises students learn the four-step process for Web application penetration testing. Students will inject SQL into back-end databases, learning how attackers exfiltrate sensitive data. They then utilize cross-site scripting attacks to dominate a target infrastructure in a unique hands-on laboratory environment. Finally students explore various other Web app vulnerabilities in-depth with tried-and-true techniques for finding them using a structured testing regimen.

ISE 6320: Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking

SANS class: SEC 560 Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking
Assessment: GIAC GPEN
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6320 prepares students to conduct successful penetration testing and ethical hacking projects. The course starts with proper planning, scoping and recon, and then dives deep into scanning, target exploitation, password attacks, and wireless and web apps with detailed hands-on exercises and practical tips for doing the job safely and effectively. Students will participate in an intensive, hands-on Capture the Flag exercise, conducting a penetration test against a sample target organization.

ISE 6325: Mobile Device Security & Ethical Hacking

SANS class: SEC 575 Mobile Device Security and Ethical Hacking
Assessment: GIAC GMOB
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6325 helps students resolve their organization's struggles with mobile device security by equipping then with the skills needed to design, deploy, operate, and assess a well-managed secure mobile environment. From practical policy development to network architecture design and deployment, and mobile code analysis to penetration testing and ethical hacking, this course teaches students to build the critical skills necessary to support the secure deployment and use of mobile phones and tablets in their organization.

ISE 6330: Wireless Penetration Testing & Ethical Hacking

SANS class: SEC 617 Wireless Ethical Hacking, Penetration Testing, and Defenses
Assessment: GIAC GAWN
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6330 takes an in-depth look at the security challenges of many different wireless technologies, exposing students to wireless security threats through the eyes of an attacker. Using readily available and custom-developed tools, students will navigate through the techniques attackers use to exploit WiFi networks, Bluetooth devices, and a variety of other wireless technologies. Using assessment and analysis techniques, this course will show students how to identify the threats that expose wireless technology and build on this knowledge to implement defensive techniques that can be used to protect wireless systems.

ISE 6350: Automating Information Security with Python

SANS class: SEC573: Automating Information Security with Python
Assessment: GIAC GPYC
3 Credit Hours

The ISE 6350 course teaches student in the pen testing specialization, and other students who want to use the Python programming language, how to enhance their overall effectiveness during information security engagements. Students will learn how to apply core programming concepts and techniques learned in other courses through the Python programming language. The course teaches skills and techniques that can enhance an information security professional in penetration tests, security operations, and special projects. Students will create simple Python-based tools to interact with network traffic, create custom executables, test and interact with databases and websites, and parse logs or sets of data.

ISE 6360: Advanced Penetration Testing, Exploit Writing, & Ethical Hacking

SANS class: SEC 660 Advanced Penetration Testing, Exploits, and Ethical Hacking
Assessment: GIAC GXPN
3 Credit Hours

ISE 6360 builds upon ISE 6320 - Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking. This advanced course introduces students to the most prominent and powerful attack vectors, allowing students to perform these attacks in a variety of hands-on scenarios.

Security Management | Special Focus Area (Optional)

To pursue this Special Focus Area, complete these two courses and any additional elective course listed above.

ISE 6715: Auditing & Monitoring Networks, Perimeters, & Systems

SANS class: AUD 507 Auditing Networks, Perimeters, and Systems
Assessment: GIAC GSNA
3 Credit Hours

(Not available as an elective in the MSISM program)

ISE 6715 is organized specifically to provide a risk driven method for tackling the enormous task of designing an enterprise security validation program. After covering a variety of high level audit issues and general audit best practice, students have the opportunity to dive deep into the technical how to for determining the key controls that can be used to provide a level of assurance to an organization. Tips on how to repeatably verify these controls and techniques for continuous monitoring and automatic compliance validation are given from real world examples.

ISE 6720: Law of Data Security and Investigations

SANS class: LEG 523 Law of Data Security and Investigations
Assessment: GIAC GLEG
3 Credit Hours

(Not available as an elective in the MSISM program)

ISE 6720 introduces students to the new laws on privacy, e-discovery, and data security so students can bridge the gap between the legal department and the IT department. It also provides students with skills in the analysis and use of contracts, policies, and records management procedures.


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