What set of books would you recommend to study for the GCIA certification without buying official study material?

Also, please tell whether your suggestions are based on having completed GCIA certification yourself, or if they are based on other experience such as work as an analyst or knowledge of the GCIA requirements.

I am new to IT Security, but I have done some network courses (OSI model, Ethernet spec, TCP-IP stack basics, etc.), and am a C# programmer.

I believe GIAC offers a way to only take the exam instead of buying thousands of dollars worth of study material, hence my interest in your suggestions.

GCIA webpage: http://www.giac.org/certification/certified-intrusion-analyst-gcia

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Speaking as a certified GCIA, the exams will be an order of magnitude easier with the courseware ("official study material") than with related books. I've also certified GCFA, a couple other expired certs, and worked with the exam writing teams some number of years ago. They are constrained to make sure that exam questions are directly supported by the courseware (for the obvious reason), so there's a distinct advantage to using courseware - if it's in the exam, you know it has to be in the courseware somewhere.

They used to sell it for something like $500; I understand they've stopped selling it online. If you can physically get to a conference, or make an arrangement with someone, they do sell the courseware in the bookstore during the conference. I don't think you need a conference pass to get into the conference bookstore, but I could be wrong.

You are correct that GIAC offers a Challenge exam. You get practice exams with it, so if you wanted to prep with other books, that would give you an indication as to whether they were enough before you actually take the pass/fail test.

My advice: if you're looking at buying a $200 pile of books versus the $500 courseware, I'd consider the additional $300 well spent, given that the Challenge exam is $900 on the line.

  • I thought the courseware was upward of 2000$ nowaday! I should have double checked. – PRINCESS FLUFF Sep 30 '11 at 17:30
  • You should triple check; I haven't been to a conference for a few years, and they may have raised it. I would be really surprised if it was that high, though. – gowenfawr Sep 30 '11 at 17:50
  • I checked on their website and for the online self-study kit, it is about 3700$... – PRINCESS FLUFF Oct 1 '11 at 2:53
  • That is different than the courseware, which is just the books and CD that is handed out to class participants. – gowenfawr Oct 1 '11 at 13:50

I am GCIA as well, and my primary recommendations are TCP/IP Illustrated and The TCP/IP Guide.

Once you've digested those in theory, open up tcpdump and wireshark and set to understanding all traffic that you see on the wire (yours, by the way).

Once you don't have any questions about what you're seeing, and you can read the hex you're seeing and know what part of the protocol you're looking at...you'll be in solid shape.


I'd look at just doing the course to ensure you cover all the material you will be tested upon .. just my 2 cents (I did the GCIA early this year)

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