Security Encyclopedia

GSEC (GIAC Security Essentials Certification)

The GSEC (GIAC Security Essentials Certification) is a professional certification for those seeking to demonstrate technical proficiency in the field of cybersecurity.

The GSEC invites comparison to the dominant certification, CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), however they two differ in at least one key way. The GSEC is administered unsupervised, and allows test takers to apply their knowledge of how to solve problems using any external resources. The CISSP is a proctored in-person exam in which test takers are required to draw upon knowledge they have memorized or mastered.

The GSEC is sponsored and offered by the nonprofit Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), which the for-profit SANS Institute created as a vendor-neutral certification and testing body. GSEC requirements include two 100-question, open-book, open-to-Google online exams, and a fee.


“There are a number of professional certifications for cybersecurity leaders, however the GSEC is one that focuses on technical proficiency as opposed to oversight or auditing.”