SANS – SEC401 Security Essentials Day – minus one

SEC401: Security Essentials Bootcamp Style

It’s my first time enrolling on a SANS course. I decided to take the SEC401 Security Essentials bootcamp in Las Vegas this year as I thought it would give me an all round entry level knowledge into the world of security. I had the option to sign up for the optional GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) certification which I did for a reduced rate if selected along with the course.

Network Security 2014 – Las Vegas

ns2014 Like every other year, one of SANS largest event is held at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. It’s a very good location as you’ll find everything you need there. One of the bonuses of physically attending the event is there’s going to be lots of vendor events as well as night classes that you can sign up for where you can learn more about current technology trends as well as mingle with other professionals who are attending the event. Although some of my colleagues opted to go for the online training as you don’t have to travel, one of the little known benefits is you get a choice to receive a bonus Macbook Air or an ASUS laptop mailed directly to you.

If you choose to attend the venue, make sure to sign up early so you can get the early bird discount hotel rate. There’s usually a page online which links directly to a promo page for Caesars Palace. TIP: You don’t have to register for the course to get this rate – so if you happen to be traveling to Vegas while this course is being held you can leach off of the same link to get the special discount room rate 0 though it’s only good for the week of the event and Saturday nights are excluded.


The SEC401 course has basically very minimal prerequisites, although you should have some basic understanding of operating systems and tcp/ip networking. The course does require you to bring a laptop and setup a VMWare image with a special Linux distro – Kali Linux, that contains a bunch of security tools used for the course.

Kali Linux – The most advanced Penetration testing distro ever!

As you get closer to the date, there will be email reminder that will be automatically sent to you reminding you to setup your laptop prior to the course. First you should download yourself a copy of the free VMware Player which you can find here.

Next, make sure you download the latest version of Kali Linux. I had all sorts of trouble with this one as the link to the download page seems to give you a version of the ISO that doesn’t install. At the time of writing this was the version I had troubles with: kali-linux-1.0.9a-amd64.iso. No matter how many times I downloaded this via HTTP or bittorrent, I would end up with an image that fails to install.

So, what I did was I went to this page to download the mini version of the ISO. Basically it’s a net image that downloads all the latest packages online.

Kali Linux is a debian distro. If you’re familiar with the text UI, the installation is very straight forward which doesn’t require much explanation.

Once you are down the installation, make sure you go back to your reminder email and visit the link at the very bottom to acknowledge that you have completed the setup. Failing to do so results in continuous email reminders being sent to you until you click on that link.

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