White Hat Hacker Securing Your Data

Dec 27, 2023

How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity Today: A Comprehensive Guide

Discover insights on education, certifications, skills, practical experience, job hunting, and long-term development. Learn to build a strong foundation and contribute to the ever-crucial field of cybersecurity.

In a digital landscape where cyber threats evolve daily, cybersecurity has never been more crucial. A recent report by Cybersecurity Ventures shows that cybercrime costs the world $8 trillion in 2023 and by 2025 that should reach $10.5 trillion annually. This alarming statistic underscores the growing importance and urgency of cybersecurity in today's world. This article aims to provide a detailed roadmap for those aspiring to enter this dynamic and essential field.

The Growing Field of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is an ever-expanding frontier. With the increase in remote job opportunities and digital transactions, the frequency and complexity of cyber threats are escalating. High-profile incidents like the WannaCry ransomware attack and the breach of Marriott International highlight the vast implications of cybersecurity lapses. These events emphasize the critical need for skilled professionals who can preempt, address, and mitigate cyber threats.

Educational Pathways

A career in cybersecurity can be pursued through various educational routes, including degrees and certifications.

Degrees: Bachelor's and master's programs in computer science, cybersecurity, or related fields provide a comprehensive understanding of the domain.

  • Computer Science and IT: These traditional routes offer a solid foundation in computing principles, programming, and network management.

  • Engineering: Degrees in electrical, software, or computer engineering can provide a strong technical base, especially in hardware and software security.

  • Mathematics and Physics: Analytical skills gained from these disciplines are invaluable for cryptography and algorithm development.

  • Law and Criminal Justice: For those interested in cybersecurity policy, legal compliance, or forensic investigation, these fields offer a unique entry point.

Certifications: Certifications like CompTIA Security+, CISSP, and CISM are crucial for those seeking to validate their skills. They are highly regarded in the industry and are often a prerequisite for advanced roles.

Preparation time:

CompTIA Security+: CompTIA Security+ proves that you have the foundational cybersecurity skills needed to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career, making it a strong starting point into other higher-level cybersecurity certifications. It tests your ability to safeguard networks, detect threats and secure data. Exam vouchers will cost you $392 and they offer multiple options if you need training or would like to have a retake option. Note: If you are a student in the United States, have a valid student ID and a .edu email address, you can take advantage of CompTIA's student discounts. At this time, a single CompTIA Security+ certification voucher is offered to students for $209.

The latest version of CompTIA Security+ (SY0-701) includes both performance-based and multiple-choice exam questions across five domains:

DomainExam WeightsGeneral Security Concepts12%Threats, Vulnerabilities and Mitigations22%Security Architecture18%Security Operations28%Security Program Management and Oversight20%

The topics covered by CompTIA Security+ align directly with early-career cybersecurity jobs.

CISSP: The Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP) certification is a globally recognized standard in the field of Information Security.

The CISSP exam lasts for three hours, and has 150 multiple-choice questions, and the candidate must score 70% or higher to clear the CISSP exam. In addition, the candidate needs to pay a $699 CISSP exam fee before appearing for the exam.

To acquire the CISSP certification, you should have at least five years of professional information security experience and should be endorsed by another CISSP certified professional.

The CISSP certification exam consists of eight domains:

  1. Security and Risk Management

  2. Asset Security

  3. Security Architecture and Engineering

  4. Communications and Network Security

  5. Identity and Access Management

  6. Security Assessment and Testing

  7. Security Operations

  8. Software Development Security

A key point to note about the CISSP exam is that a light map exists between the nature of the course material and the candidate’s professional background:

  • Risk management professionals find 60-70 hours of time for preparation quite adequate to clear the CISSP exam

  • IT professionals would need less time – 40-50 hours of study should suffice to clear the exam.

CISM: Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) is one such program that aims to train professionals in managing, monitoring, analyzing, and designing information security systems for businesses. As one of the highly sought-after programs in Information Security, the CISM certification requires passing only one exam, making it relatively easy to earn this valuable credential. The exam fees are $575 for members and $760 for new members, and the CISM exam is administered at PTI testing centers worldwide.

The exam primarily focuses on concepts such as:

  • Information Security Governance (17%) 

  • Information Security Risk Management (20%)

  • Information Security Program (33%)

  • Incident Management (30%)

To be eligible for the CISM Certification, it is necessary to provide valid evidence demonstrating that you have at least five years of work experience in Information Security, including a minimum of three years in Information Security Management. The total work experience must have been acquired within ten years before applying for the CISM Certification.

Ethics in Cybersecurity

A fundamental part of cybersecurity education involves ethics. Courses should address the responsible use of information, ethical hacking practices, and legal frameworks like GDPR, emphasizing the impact of cybersecurity decisions on privacy and data security.

Essential Skills and Knowledge 

Alongside technical skills like network security and ethical hacking, cybersecurity professionals must understand compliance and legal issues.

Soft Skills

  • Problem-Solving: Your background lends a unique skill set to the team’s ability to solve new problems… How? It’s important to be able to establish and/or follow a procedure for troubleshooting.

  • Communication: Written and verbal communication with management/stakeholders is a daily activity and expectation. Listening/following directions is just as important.

  • Adaptability: With cyber security trends constantly evolving, one of the biggest challenges is the unknown. As a cyber security professional, you must be aware and responsive to the rapid changes occurring in the industry and continuously adapt your skills accordingly.

  • Be curious and inquisitive: Good cybersecurity professionals have a desire to know how and why things are done. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or find an industry mentor who you can go to for advice.

Technical Skills

  • Network Security: Understanding firewalls, VPNs, and intrusion detection systems.

  • Ethical Hacking: Techniques for penetration testing and vulnerability assessments.

  • Programming: Proficiency in languages like Python and JavaScript for scripting and automation. To achieve this you can use websites like Udemy or Coursera or good old YouTube videos.

Legal and Compliance Understanding
  • Regulations: Familiarity with laws like GDPR in the EU, HIPAA in healthcare, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for corporate governance.

  • Policy Implementation: Skills in developing and enforcing security policies in line with legal requirements.

Gain Practical Experience

Practical experience is invaluable in cybersecurity. Beginners can start with:

Personal Projects

  • Home Lab: Set up a home network to practice skills like network configuration and monitoring.

  • Contribute to Open Source: Engage in projects like OWASP or Apache Security to gain hands-on experience.

Bounty Programs

  • Bug bounty programs offer monetary rewards to ethical hackers for successfully discovering and reporting a vulnerability or bug to the application's developer. You can check HackerOne for this or do your own research.

Internships and Volunteering

  • Internships: Opportunities in companies or cybersecurity firms provide real-world experience.

  • Volunteering: Offer services to non-profits or small businesses to build a portfolio.

  • Hackathons: Participants will engage in a series of technical challenges, ranging from web security and network penetration to cryptography and more.

Landing Your First Job

Tailoring your resume for specific roles in cybersecurity is crucial, as the field offers a broad range of specializations. Focus on highlighting your educational background and practical experiences relevant to the role you're applying for.

Building Your Personal Brand
  • Online Presence: Develop a strong online presence through LinkedIn, cybersecurity forums, and blogging about security topics. Participate in webinars and community discussions.

  • Networking: Engage with the cybersecurity community to establish connections and learn from industry leaders.

  • Showcasing Skills and Experience: Highlight programming expertise, project management, and problem-solving abilities.

  • Create and update your GitHub account: Maintain an active GitHub account to showcase technical capabilities. Use GitHub to demonstrate personal projects or contributions to open-source security projects.

Long-Term Career Development

Advancing in cybersecurity involves ongoing education and skill development. Seek mentorship opportunities, attend workshops, and consider advanced certifications or degrees. Adaptability and a willingness to learn are crucial in this dynamic field.

Continuous Learning
  • Advanced Certifications: Consider pursuing advanced certifications like CEH, OSCP or any other topic that might be interesting for you choosing from online and offline options.

  • Workshops and Webinars: Stay updated with the latest trends and techniques in cybersecurity.

  • Public Speaking: Engage in speaking opportunities at conferences or webinars to establish thought leadership.

Final Thought

As Gene Spafford once said, "The only system which is truly secure is one which is switched off and unplugged locked in a titanium lined safe, buried in a concrete bunker, and is surrounded by nerve gas and very highly paid armed guards. Even then, I wouldn't stake my life on it." While this paints a stark picture, it also highlights the indispensable role of cybersecurity professionals. By following this comprehensive guide, you can build a strong foundation, gain valuable experience, and contribute significantly to protecting the digital world.

In a digital landscape where cyber threats evolve daily, cybersecurity has never been more crucial. A recent report by Cybersecurity Ventures shows that cybercrime costs the world $8 trillion in 2023 and by 2025 that should reach $10.5 trillion annually. This alarming statistic underscores the growing importance and urgency of cybersecurity in today's world. This article aims to provide a detailed roadmap for those aspiring to enter this dynamic and essential field.

The Growing Field of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is an ever-expanding frontier. With the increase in remote job opportunities and digital transactions, the frequency and complexity of cyber threats are escalating. High-profile incidents like the WannaCry ransomware attack and the breach of Marriott International highlight the vast implications of cybersecurity lapses. These events emphasize the critical need for skilled professionals who can preempt, address, and mitigate cyber threats.

Educational Pathways

A career in cybersecurity can be pursued through various educational routes, including degrees and certifications.

Degrees: Bachelor's and master's programs in computer science, cybersecurity, or related fields provide a comprehensive understanding of the domain.

  • Computer Science and IT: These traditional routes offer a solid foundation in computing principles, programming, and network management.

  • Engineering: Degrees in electrical, software, or computer engineering can provide a strong technical base, especially in hardware and software security.

  • Mathematics and Physics: Analytical skills gained from these disciplines are invaluable for cryptography and algorithm development.

  • Law and Criminal Justice: For those interested in cybersecurity policy, legal compliance, or forensic investigation, these fields offer a unique entry point.

Certifications: Certifications like CompTIA Security+, CISSP, and CISM are crucial for those seeking to validate their skills. They are highly regarded in the industry and are often a prerequisite for advanced roles.

Preparation time:

CompTIA Security+: CompTIA Security+ proves that you have the foundational cybersecurity skills needed to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career, making it a strong starting point into other higher-level cybersecurity certifications. It tests your ability to safeguard networks, detect threats and secure data. Exam vouchers will cost you $392 and they offer multiple options if you need training or would like to have a retake option. Note: If you are a student in the United States, have a valid student ID and a .edu email address, you can take advantage of CompTIA's student discounts. At this time, a single CompTIA Security+ certification voucher is offered to students for $209.

The latest version of CompTIA Security+ (SY0-701) includes both performance-based and multiple-choice exam questions across five domains:

DomainExam WeightsGeneral Security Concepts12%Threats, Vulnerabilities and Mitigations22%Security Architecture18%Security Operations28%Security Program Management and Oversight20%

The topics covered by CompTIA Security+ align directly with early-career cybersecurity jobs.

CISSP: The Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP) certification is a globally recognized standard in the field of Information Security.

The CISSP exam lasts for three hours, and has 150 multiple-choice questions, and the candidate must score 70% or higher to clear the CISSP exam. In addition, the candidate needs to pay a $699 CISSP exam fee before appearing for the exam.

To acquire the CISSP certification, you should have at least five years of professional information security experience and should be endorsed by another CISSP certified professional.

The CISSP certification exam consists of eight domains:

  1. Security and Risk Management

  2. Asset Security

  3. Security Architecture and Engineering

  4. Communications and Network Security

  5. Identity and Access Management

  6. Security Assessment and Testing

  7. Security Operations

  8. Software Development Security

A key point to note about the CISSP exam is that a light map exists between the nature of the course material and the candidate’s professional background:

  • Risk management professionals find 60-70 hours of time for preparation quite adequate to clear the CISSP exam

  • IT professionals would need less time – 40-50 hours of study should suffice to clear the exam.

CISM: Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) is one such program that aims to train professionals in managing, monitoring, analyzing, and designing information security systems for businesses. As one of the highly sought-after programs in Information Security, the CISM certification requires passing only one exam, making it relatively easy to earn this valuable credential. The exam fees are $575 for members and $760 for new members, and the CISM exam is administered at PTI testing centers worldwide.

The exam primarily focuses on concepts such as:

  • Information Security Governance (17%) 

  • Information Security Risk Management (20%)

  • Information Security Program (33%)

  • Incident Management (30%)

To be eligible for the CISM Certification, it is necessary to provide valid evidence demonstrating that you have at least five years of work experience in Information Security, including a minimum of three years in Information Security Management. The total work experience must have been acquired within ten years before applying for the CISM Certification.

Ethics in Cybersecurity

A fundamental part of cybersecurity education involves ethics. Courses should address the responsible use of information, ethical hacking practices, and legal frameworks like GDPR, emphasizing the impact of cybersecurity decisions on privacy and data security.

Essential Skills and Knowledge 

Alongside technical skills like network security and ethical hacking, cybersecurity professionals must understand compliance and legal issues.

Soft Skills

  • Problem-Solving: Your background lends a unique skill set to the team’s ability to solve new problems… How? It’s important to be able to establish and/or follow a procedure for troubleshooting.

  • Communication: Written and verbal communication with management/stakeholders is a daily activity and expectation. Listening/following directions is just as important.

  • Adaptability: With cyber security trends constantly evolving, one of the biggest challenges is the unknown. As a cyber security professional, you must be aware and responsive to the rapid changes occurring in the industry and continuously adapt your skills accordingly.

  • Be curious and inquisitive: Good cybersecurity professionals have a desire to know how and why things are done. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or find an industry mentor who you can go to for advice.

Technical Skills

  • Network Security: Understanding firewalls, VPNs, and intrusion detection systems.

  • Ethical Hacking: Techniques for penetration testing and vulnerability assessments.

  • Programming: Proficiency in languages like Python and JavaScript for scripting and automation. To achieve this you can use websites like Udemy or Coursera or good old YouTube videos.

Legal and Compliance Understanding
  • Regulations: Familiarity with laws like GDPR in the EU, HIPAA in healthcare, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for corporate governance.

  • Policy Implementation: Skills in developing and enforcing security policies in line with legal requirements.

Gain Practical Experience

Practical experience is invaluable in cybersecurity. Beginners can start with:

Personal Projects

  • Home Lab: Set up a home network to practice skills like network configuration and monitoring.

  • Contribute to Open Source: Engage in projects like OWASP or Apache Security to gain hands-on experience.

Bounty Programs

  • Bug bounty programs offer monetary rewards to ethical hackers for successfully discovering and reporting a vulnerability or bug to the application's developer. You can check HackerOne for this or do your own research.

Internships and Volunteering

  • Internships: Opportunities in companies or cybersecurity firms provide real-world experience.

  • Volunteering: Offer services to non-profits or small businesses to build a portfolio.

  • Hackathons: Participants will engage in a series of technical challenges, ranging from web security and network penetration to cryptography and more.

Landing Your First Job

Tailoring your resume for specific roles in cybersecurity is crucial, as the field offers a broad range of specializations. Focus on highlighting your educational background and practical experiences relevant to the role you're applying for.

Building Your Personal Brand
  • Online Presence: Develop a strong online presence through LinkedIn, cybersecurity forums, and blogging about security topics. Participate in webinars and community discussions.

  • Networking: Engage with the cybersecurity community to establish connections and learn from industry leaders.

  • Showcasing Skills and Experience: Highlight programming expertise, project management, and problem-solving abilities.

  • Create and update your GitHub account: Maintain an active GitHub account to showcase technical capabilities. Use GitHub to demonstrate personal projects or contributions to open-source security projects.

Long-Term Career Development

Advancing in cybersecurity involves ongoing education and skill development. Seek mentorship opportunities, attend workshops, and consider advanced certifications or degrees. Adaptability and a willingness to learn are crucial in this dynamic field.

Continuous Learning
  • Advanced Certifications: Consider pursuing advanced certifications like CEH, OSCP or any other topic that might be interesting for you choosing from online and offline options.

  • Workshops and Webinars: Stay updated with the latest trends and techniques in cybersecurity.

  • Public Speaking: Engage in speaking opportunities at conferences or webinars to establish thought leadership.

Final Thought

As Gene Spafford once said, "The only system which is truly secure is one which is switched off and unplugged locked in a titanium lined safe, buried in a concrete bunker, and is surrounded by nerve gas and very highly paid armed guards. Even then, I wouldn't stake my life on it." While this paints a stark picture, it also highlights the indispensable role of cybersecurity professionals. By following this comprehensive guide, you can build a strong foundation, gain valuable experience, and contribute significantly to protecting the digital world.

Author

Nazar Horbachevskyy

Nazar Horbachevskyy

Leaving behind a football career, Nazar became a party entertainer. After too many costume changes, he decided it was time for a more “serious” job. He’s now an account manager, hopelessly believing people can fix anything as long as they express their thoughts.
He still changes before each call.

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frontrunnrs 2023

© all right reserved