Doing a SANS Gold Paper

Before Applying to Gold

Visit their website ( and take note of all the guidelines stated there. This included a Gold Paper on Gold Paper (Yes, someone did a Gold Paper titled, “A Project Management Approach to Writing a GIAC Gold Paper”!!) detailing the process. The schedule guideline and report sample template with all the font and referencing details are important too. All these really helps to facilitate the journey.

Doing the Gold Paper

Now, this period really tests your motivation and discipline. Why? Because unlike certifications where there is a dateline so you study and prepare for it this is like blindfolding you and leaving you in a forest. You have to figure out the way yourself.

After submitting the Gold Paper

After the to-and-fro with your advisor and he/she is satisfied, it will be uploaded for grading by multiple reviewers. The grading rubric can be found at

In Summary:

  • Pre-research is very important. You have to be clear on the problem statement and what you are really trying to prove in the paper. Something I could have done but didn’t is to send the topic and abstract maybe to the SANS trainers as they usually leave their email during the SANS training and ask for their feedback too. The clearer you are on what you are supposed to do and it is not unfeasible technically, the easier it will be for you.
  • Go through all the guidelines stated in their website and make use of them from the start. Like the reports template etc. I started using Microsoft Word then switched to Google Docs midway thus wasted time on changing the font etc. Best is to start working from their given template itself.
  • Pick the brains of your advisors as much as possible. Not sure how the advisors are allocated but assume they have the street creds to be your advisors so update them as much as possible (I updated monthly) on your progress and get their feedback so that your paper will be of a substantial quality.



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David Billa

David Billa

Security Engineer who believes that, there is no spoon.