Cybersecurity – A Career Guide

Comptia cybersecurity IT
To get a job in Cybersecurity, start with the basics of computing

Obviously, one of the most important things with cybersecurity is that you need to understand how computers work. You can’t very well hack into something or protect something if you don’t know how it works. One of the best things that you can do is to get started with learning how the computer works. Because once you understand how it works, then you can discover “Here are the vulnerabilities. Here are the weaknesses.” And we can discover how to get past those types of things. If you haven’t been working with computers long, you may want to consider looking at something like the CompTIA A+ course or the CompTIA Network+ course, build a really good understanding of how the internals of the computer work, work your way on up into the software side of things with the operating systems. Don’t just limit yourself to Windows. Windows is great to know. But you also want to learn things like Linux and Unix and any other things that you can expose yourself to as well.

Learn about Computer Networking

When it comes to networking, don’t stop at just a basic network configuration with the consumer router and maybe consumer switches or any other types of devices. Work your way on up into the Cisco world and look at all the different types of things that are involved with making networks work, making data move across these networks. CompTIA Network+ is also a good starting point for becoming certified in networking.

Once you have that skillset and you’ve kind of broadened your horizons there, you’ll be able to develop a much better understanding of how cybersecurity itself works.

Linux and Cybersecurity

Now once you’ve got that basic understanding, keep building on that. Start playing with different distributions of Linux. Start looking at things like Kali Linux. Kali Linux is a great little hacker’s toolkit.

What kinds of Cybersecurity Jobs are out there?

Keep in mind that cybersecurity is a really broad field and there are many different things that you can specialise in. Specialisations include things like software security and operating systems. You’ve got getting past routers, breaking into IoT devices or internet of things. So, there’s a bunch of different things that you can do to get into cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity skills

One of the most highly recommended things for those interested in cybersecurity is to learn a programming language. There’s a lot of them out there. If you want to start with something simple, maybe look at something like JavaScript or VBScript. Definitely some very good foundations of learning the basics of programming. If you’ve ever seen kind of the backend interface to Microsoft Excel or Word or PowerPoint, they have this interface that you can actually go in and write code to be able to do all sorts of different things. And that’s where things like macro viruses and those little warnings that pop up if you’ve ever opened an Excel spreadsheet that says, “Beware of potentially malicious code.” So that’s the type of area that you can go in and actually look at that type of thing as well. Learning a programming language can certainly be very helpful.

Getting hands-on experience

On-the-job experience is another really good thing. Now you don’t have to start directly in cybersecurity if you’re looking at a career in cybersecurity. In fact, it’s a really good idea to kind of get some hands-on [experience], maybe at a help desk. Maybe at a local small computer shop and really spend some time getting to know the inner workings of how computers actually work. From there, you can always move up into the cybersecurity field.

If you’re perhaps young enough and you don’t necessarily feel like college is right for you, you may want to look at something like the military. The military has a lot of opportunities in cybersecurity. Whether you’re talking about the Army or the Navy or the Air Force or Coast Guard, I’ve taught people in all those branches. I haven’t really done anything with Marines yet, but hey guys, if you’re in the Marines and you’d like for me to come out to one of the bases where you’re at, I’m happy to do so. Just feel free to contact me here.

But I’ve been to a bunch of other military bases where we talk about all sorts of different types of cybersecurity topics. Now obviously I can’t talk about the details here, but there are definitely cybersecurity groups within at least the Air Force and the Navy and other branches of the U.S. military. So that might be a good option for you.

Cybersecurity Certifications

Of course, getting certified is also another very good step in starting a career in cybersecurity. You can look at things like the Security+ certification from CompTIA. They’ve also got the Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) certification as well as the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) certification. So those three have been around for quite a while now. The Cybersecurity Analyst is the newest out of those three. Now there’s actually a new certification, the PenTest+ certification which will ensure that successful candidates have the knowledge and skills required to:

  • Plan and scope an assessment.
  • Understand legal and compliance requirements.
  • Perform vulnerability scanning and penetration testing using appropriate tools and techniques
  • Analyse the results.

Of course, beyond CompTIA certifications, there are other certifications out there as well.

Top entry-level IT certifications: