SANS Foundations

Creating a course delivery platform for an immersive cyber security training experience.

www.sans-foundations.com

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The challenge

With the current global requirement for trained and qualified cyber security practitioners, the need to develop the core knowledge and practical skills of those looking to kickstart a career in cyber security is more crucial than ever. As industry leaders in cyber security training, the SANS Institute understands this requirement better than most.

SANS therefore came to Spinning Fox with a request to help them develop an online training platform. This platform would enable individuals to establish practical skills in computing, technology, and security fundamentals, with the aim of either introducing them to the world of cyber security or furthering their current skills and expertise, allowing them to pursue a career in the field.

This provided Spinning Fox with an excellent opportunity to once again partner with this industry leader. A solution was needed that would allow individuals to access all of the top-quality introductory material produced by SANS, as well as further reinforcing the SANS brand as the go-to place for world-class cyber security training and learning.

TLDR

With an aggressive timeline and wide range of technical challenges, the SANS Foundations project turned out to be our most challenging so far. In just a few months we built an online training platform with over 120 hours of video and dozens of interactive labs now being used by thousands of cyber security students.

  • Client – SANS Institute - The worlds leading cyber security training provider.
  • Services – UI/UX design, front-end development, backend development, system architecture, technical strategy, project management.
  • Technologies – React, SCSS, PHP 7.4, SlimPHP 4.0, Mux, AWS (Cloudfront, S3, RDS, SES, Route53, Elastic Cache, ECS, Fargate), Socket IO.

The solution

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After extensive consultation with the client, we delivered SANS Foundations, an online cyber security training platform that fully met their brief. SANS Foundations is suitable for anyone from career changers, online self-driven learners, and college or university students, to business professionals with a deep cyber security background, and new hires in IT and cyber security.

The course provides students with the practical learning and key skills to empower future cyber security learning, and accelerate future study and professional development. Practice and theory are compressed into bite-size learning chunks and students are provided with Linux systems, networking scenarios and security examples to revise and practise what they have been taught at the keyboard.

The platform features:

  • Over 120 hours of curated content.
  • Over 90 hands-on labs experience.
  • Engaging 4K video content.
  • Quizzes to consolidate learning outcomes.
  • Training delivered by world-renowned experts.
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One of the core features of SANS Foundations is the comprehensive variety of innovative, hands-on labs and practical exercises that go far beyond what is offered in any other cyber security foundational course on the market. The labs are developed by leading subject matter experts, drawing on the latest, up-to-the-minute technology, techniques and concepts in cyber security. They allow students to use an in-browser code editor and terminal to test their learning in a real-time environment.

Not only did Spinning Fox develop the platform for the SANS Foundations material to be housed on, but we also developed a customised Content Management System solution, allowing SANS to quickly and easily update content and add new material to ensure that it stays current, and aligned with the latest technology and best practices.

Some of the challenges we faced before choosing a solution were:

  • IP Protection.
  • Managing multiple states of content.
  • Transcoding of video content from 4k to 1080p.
  • On-Demand remote virtual labs.
  • Ingesting many hundreds of gigabytes of data.

The result

SANS Foundations was deployed in early October 2020, and since then we have been asked by the client to continually assess and evolve the experience for students. This involves regularly reviewing usage data to establish how the platform can be optimised, as well as conducting user research to further improve and develop the overall user experience.

Since being rolled out to customers in October 2020, SANS Foundations has had excellent uptake from cyber security students. The feedback gathered so far has shown that students are establishing the core skills and knowledge required in order to successfully complete the proctored final exam delivered by GIAC; the highest standard in cyber security certifications.

On average, students have been completing 22 hours of the 120 hours of the curated content within the first four days.

Quotemark

I think the biggest value add for SANS Foundations was simply how comprehensive it was. It covered a lot of topics, but each was covered in enough depth for a better handle on the basics without being overwhelming.

U.S. government federal law enforcement professional

Got a similar project in mind where we could help with both design and build?

jwalton@spinning-fox.com

You can also call our Business Development Manager, James, direct on +44 (0)7862 024 527.