Yesterday, with 3 days left on my deadline, I completed the GIAC Open Source Intelligence certifications exam with a score of 91%. Needless to say I was pretty delighted. I’m still unsure which of the following questions had the biggest impact on my certification exam result: Was the exam too easy? Did I prepare very well? Was the training provided so good that it was inevitable?
I’m leaning towards a combination of the training and my preparation. To be fair the “SANS SEC487 Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Gathering and Analysis” covered a breadth and depth of topics, and covered them well. A series of books are made available to course participants, one for each day of the course, and since the exam is open book, these materials are vital to your success in the exam. I did learn many new tools and techniques. However, if you’re a seasoned OSINTer you may find the course a bit foundational and remedial and it might be better to do one of their more advanced courses. But in terms of how I scored so well, as you might expect, every question asked in the exam could be answered from the pages of the training materials.
This brings me to my preparation, the books provided are between 140 to 180 pages each. Needless to say you can’t page through those materials for each of the 75 questions you get asked in the 2 hours you have to do the exam. So a big shout out has to go to Lesley Carhart for her blog post on her “Pancakes Index System”. It would not have been possible to efficiently work through the materials without an index, and I went with the Pancakes Index System, and it definitely worked and ended up looking like this:
Following the putting together of my index, I then completed the two practice tests. The practice tests were very close to the actual exam in terms of the format of the questions and provided great preparation for the exam itself.
And there you have it. A great course with a great instructor @dutch_osintguy in my case, and enthusiastic class mates led to a great experience and now, thankfully, another successfully completed certification exam.