SANS London: Europe’s most extensive security training event

Terry Neal is the Director EMEA of the SANS Institute. In this interview he discusses SANS London 2010 training event in detail. Terry introduces the courses, the instructors and offers an overview of the event and what first-timers can expect when they attend.

SANS London is Europe’s biggest information security training event. What courses do you offer this year? How do you choose what courses to present?
We are excited to offer 14 courses this year including five new ones that have either never run in the UK before or anywhere else in the world. We start with a single 2- day course on Securing the Human and then eleven 5- or 6 day courses running simultaneously. These include Network Forensics, Advanced Penetration Testing and Implementing and Auditing the Twenty Critical Security Controls.

We conclude with two simultaneous 2- day courses: Virtualization Security Fundamentals, and Metasploit Kung Fu for Enterprise Pen Testing. Our courses are chosen through three factors:

  • 1. Demand from our customers/Alumni
  • 2. The SANS faculty curriculum lead identifies a need in the market
  • 3. Major updates and advances in technology drive new areas of interest and therefore demand (for example, Virtualization).

Who are the instructors? How are they chosen?

The instructors teaching at SANS London are all information security practitioners and experts in their own fields. They are all chosen from the very top of the information security profession following an extremely rigorous process. They could also be the course authors but must have taught these courses, or courses at the same level, before they can teach at this flag-ship event.

We are delighted to have a fantastic roster which includes: Eric Cole, PhD., Stephen Sims, George Bakos, Johannes Ullrich, PhD., James Tarala, Raul Siles, Pieter Danhieux, Steve Armstrong, Jess Garcia, Michael Murr and Lance Spitzner. They are the best at motivating you to go back to your office and implement what you have been taught; when they are not teaching for SANS they have their sleeves rolled up practicing what they teach for major organisations around the world.

In general, how is the training organized? What can first-timers look forward to?
Class sizes range from twenty to forty people and typically run from 9:00am to 5:00 pm, unless you are part of Dr. Cole’s Security Essentials Bootcamp, which can run until 8:00pm.

Consideration is given to the comfort of the student with enough desk space for both books and a laptop, room temperature and natural light. Even the food and beverages are top-notch so all students are comfortable and energized throughout their course. Morning breaks, lunch breaks and afternoon breaks are conducted in multiple catering areas so there are minimal lines at food and beverage stations with plenty of seating.

First-timers always have someone to turn to with plenty of SANS staff on-site at all times. Each class even has its own Facilitator who can help with practical exercises, software or hardware configuration issues to minimize any down-time and maximize participation in the class. We are very experienced and train 20,000 information security professional each year so first-timers are in great hands.

Have there been any conceptual changes since your last year’s event?
Our main goals remain the same and they are to ensure that whatever is learned in class can be immediately put into practice upon return to work and that we maximize the value for every delegate. We always wish to offer current and up-to-date information and fuel the teaching with anecdotal examples, which makes the teaching real and connects it to the real world. No major changes have been made as we believe that we have the formula just right, although we do strive to make this event bigger and better year after year.

How many attendees do you expect? What networking opportunities are available in the evening after the courses are over?
We expect to have close to 400 delegates this year. These range from people just entering the industry to seasoned professionals who are taking some of our advanced courses. Optional complimentary evening sessions offer the opportunity to extend the learning week where delegates can learn about subjects outside of the course they are attending.

Every night is packed with cutting-edge presentations. Afterwards, delegates then flow into the local pub where we run the Hex Factor hacking challenge, every night. The evening sessions and a social night at the end of the week offer fantastic networking opportunities. Delegates value the SANS Experience and look forward to being part of it. They tell us in January that they cannot wait for SANS London at the end of the year!

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