The SANS Institute (officially the Escal Institute of Advanced Technologies) is a private U.S. for-profit company founded in 1989 that specializes in information security, cybersecurity training and selling certificates. Topics available for training include cyber and network defenses, penetration testing, incident response, digital forensics, and audit. The information security courses are developed through a consensus process involving administrators, security managers, and information security professionals. The courses cover security fundamentals and technical aspects of information security. The Institute has been recognized for its training programs and certification programs. SANS stands for SysAdmin, Audit, Network and Security.
The SANS Institute sponsors the Internet Storm Center, an internet monitoring system staffed by a global community of security practitioners, and the SANS Reading Room, a research archive of information security policy and research documents. SANS is one of the founding organizations of the Center for Internet Security.
SANS offers news and analysis through Twitter feeds and e-mail newsletters. Additionally, there is a weekly news and vulnerability digest available to subscribers.
When originally organized in 1989, SANS training events functioned like traditional technical conferences showcasing technical presentations. By the mid-1990s, SANS offered events which combined training with tradeshows. Beginning in 2006, SANS offered asynchronous online training (SANS OnDemand) and a virtual, synchronous classroom format (SANS vLive). Free webcasts and email newsletters (@Risk, Newsbites, Ouch!) have been developed in conjunction with security vendors. The actual content behind SANS training courses and training events remain "vendor-agnostic." Vendors cannot pay to offer their own official SANS course, although they can teach a SANS "hosted" event via sponsorship.
The majority of SANS faculty are not SANS employees, but industry professionals and respected experts in the field of information security. The faculty is organized into six different levels: Mentors, Community, Certified Instructors, Principal Instructors, Senior Instructors, and Fellows.
As of 2006[update] SANS established the SANS Technology Institute, an accredited college based on SANS training and GIAC certifications. On November 21, 2013, SANS Technology Institute was granted regional accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
SANS Technology Institute focuses exclusively on cybersecurity, offering a Master of Science degree program in Information Security Engineering (MSISE), five post-baccalaureate certificate programs (Penetration Testing & Ethical Hacking, Incident Response, Industrial Control Systems, Cyber Defense Operations, and Cybersecurity Engineering (Core)), and an upper-division undergraduate certificate program (Applied Cybersecurity).