You are here because you want to know how to get into cyber security and you are at the right place because we have the answer. Cybersecurity is a crucial part of the online world, and there is no denying the visibility of experience level. Working on cybersecurity projects requires uncountable hours put into the mechanism of networking, scripting, firewall, constant monitoring, and update measures. If we look back, cybersecurity was primarily geared towards online protection.
But as time went by, we have machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud, robotics, and typical web or network security. All those require different kinds of attention though the mutual goal remains.
2016-2017 Security Infringement Survey showed us 47% of global businesses identified at least one cyber-attacks or security breach in the system. The breach did not discriminate between small or large companies as they all suffered equally.
Though the loss is more extensive in a large business, smaller businesses find it hard to cope as their resources are not as vast as those large counterparts.
In that regard, the level of expertise can determine the significance of incident response. Cybersecurity experts are hackers themselves, but they hack to protect.
Before jumping into the protection scene, you have to stick the idea into your brain that, Whitehat hackers are as good as Blackhat or Redhat hackers and, most of the time, even better. Though Red hat hackers are known for their superiority in cyberspace, it is the white hat hackers or your friendly cybersecurity expert who comes to the rescue by the book.
As a cybersecurity professional, the organization or company trusts you to protect their network against malicious actors believes you understand how the hacking scene works.
Social engineering, network spoofing, scripting, XSS attacks, firewall penetration, malware, host process tampering, remote access are just a few terms that pop up when we hear cybersecurity. But there is a lot more.
The article will cover the following topics in detail:
A Brief on Cybersecurity and Primary Variants.
How to get into cyber security with Training & Practice
How to get into cyber security with Skills & Experience
Online Certification Courses
Activity Types with Red Cybersecurity Team
Blue Team in Cybersecurity
How to get into cyber security with Solo Learner Resources
Machine Learning in Cybersecurity
Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning
Salary and Goals
Future of Cybersecurity
What is Cybersecurity?
The practice of protecting networks, systems, and programs against digital threats is known as cybersecurity. Internet transformation has moved a big part of our life online, which has a downfall and blessings.
Cyberattacks can access systems, secure export files, destroy sensitive information, and in the worst-case scenario, expose the vulnerability of the system, making it hard to recover.
Though there are precautions in the recovery process, stopping the attack at its doorstep and being steps ahead of threats is part of the cyber defense workflow.
There are various elements of cybersecurity; a few are mentioned below:
Network security concerns securing a computer network and detecting intruders, login, or authentication as protection methods from accessing the server.
A good percentage of network security involves antivirus software management, dissecting quarantine files, access control, endpoint security, VPN, encryption, decryption, and similar tasks.
Both wired or wireless (Wi-Fi) connections fall under the protection measures of network security.
Before deploying an application or web application, developers need to secure its ends and fix vulnerabilities. By no means can we deploy a vulnerable application in the real world.
On the other hand, Sandbox teasing is customizable by testing teams to fit their needs. Applications today are attached with many functionalities to serve a wide array of tasks. In some attachments or functions, vulnerability can be present.
Customers trust developers to take precautions as they will be using it and putting in sensitive data—a compromised application, whether cloud or web infrastructure, should be secured by any means.
For example, we can take SecureX cloud-native, which connects Cisco Secure Portfolio with built-in platforms. If a vulnerability is present at any stage, attackers can utilize and gain an unfair advantage. One access can lead to another, so being careful at every step is crucial.
Operational Security (OPSEC) is a risk management process. OPSEC is used in prevention methods and maintaining multi-user levels. Information in the wrong hands can be dangerous, and it starts happening from the bottom.
Top-level authentications are already made in such a way to stay secure, but the user level may not give that much heed to it. When that goes compromised, a class of access is breached. From there, the attacker gathers more information and starts climbing up the ladders.
Decisions for handling and processing data assets are an essential part. While accessing the network, vulnerability may dive in and cling to the system. It can leak stored data and make the database inaccessible.
Information is power. Whoever holds the most information has the most power. The same thing goes for companies and organizations. The larger the company is, the more data they hold, and customers trust them with their data.
The job of an information security officer is to protect this information. Information can be deleted, transferred, encrypted, moved, recorded, modified, inspected, or stolen, devastating for companies.
Every year we see some news related to data breaches, and most of them end up on the dark web sold to the highest bidder.
Chance is some of our data is already there. Large companies have their data stolen too and in great numbers a few years back.
Today the information security standards improved, data sharing policies got updated; as a result, it became tough for hackers to get them. But we still get breached. Storage and transit data are protected using information security tactics.
Disaster and threat management:
Do you know what defines a good cybersecurity professional from the best? The best always thinks an attack already took place and regularly works to find it.
On the other hand, a good cybersecurity expert starts working as a response or testing. A company is as strong as its disaster management. Meaning storing data on physical storage, how fast can they recover if an attack occurs without data loss.
Each organization responds to cybersecurity threats differently as is delicate as possible. There is no replacement for an experienced cybersecurity expert to make the process efficient and quick.
How to get into cyber security with Training & Practice
Cybersecurity is the art of practice. No expert can say they are experts without undergoing hours of practice. But before practicing, proper training is essential. Many professionals who came to the field did not have official training at the start. Chances are, they practiced heavily, invested their time, and became good at what they did.
Later, they practiced a lot when they found their true passion and took basic training. There are tons of training procedures, which we will discuss in another section below.
Training can vary by whichever route cybersecurity practice takes you. Learning fundamental problem solving, adaptive algorithms, attack simulations with modern techniques is the way.
Of course, getting a subscription can be a good idea, but it can be a hard choice for beginners. Investing money and time in something you’re not sure about can get distracting and throw you off track. Luckily there are tons of open-source material to get feet wet before joining subscription packages. Udemy, Coursera, local sessions, online conference classes, YouTube, and books can be great to start the initial training.
They will work as a mentor for beginners in cybersecurity. Practicing with the latest tools for finding the vulnerability, a safe method of applying freshly gained knowledge, and practicing can get quite challenging and frustrating at first, but sticking to it will give tons of benefit in the long term.
The article will bestow the knowledge you need to gather proper resources for training & practice at the front line.
How to get into cyber security with Skills & experience
Let’s clear a fact regarding skills & experience: ‘it’s more important than any training you’ll ever receive, and all the certifications.’ We didn’t Google the quote, but you can take it as a fact. No matter how many fancy degrees you have, how many boot camps you attend, or how many certifications are shining on your portfolio, nothing will matter if the skill is not there.
A beginner can achieve many essential skills to get started with cybersecurity. Let’s go through a few.
Virtual machines are sandbox environments within the current OS. Previously we had to get our hands on different devices to see how things work in that operating system, but now we don’t. Oracle’s VirtualBox from Oracle, VMware Workstation Player, QEMU, Microsoft Hyper-V, Parallels Desktop are to name a few.
As beginners, we don’t have access to many devices. Servers are running Linux; some professionals use macOS, some use Windows, Ubuntu, and many others. How do we meet in the middle? By learning and experimenting inside the virtual machine. It gives us the capability of using multiple operating systems, knowing their nitty-gritty, and a lot more.
From safely practicing different OS to downloading malware on the virtual box, tweaking network settings and the sky is the limit. We can’t do many things on our computers because it makes us vulnerable; those are possible in the virtual machine. Pour your heart out by experimenting with different OS and get familiarized. Delete some files, learn to get them back. Be creative.
Like the scenes in movies, hackers don’t use a mouse. They use the command line instead. Mouse only slows you down, but that’s not the point. Command-line acts as the relationship manager between the hardware and the user. The operating system restricts the user interface, but the command line opens a new door.
We can do advanced tasks and even automation with the command line, from creating a new folder to moving files. Windows Powershell is mighty. It is the lowest level medium to talk to the computer.
Linux-based distros use command-line tools to function correctly. Learning command is one of the primary and vital parts of getting into cybersecurity.
The primary user of a device is the admin. The central controller in a network or among a rack of servers, acting as the admin controller. You’re the admin of your phone. Similarly, there are many other levels of users in a system.
An admin can perform all sorts of tasks such as system upgrades or even deletion. A user can only access files the admin has permitted to. So here are two levels of user, and can be plenty more.
A system can have a lot of sections such as hardware maintenance, software teams, cybersecurity, etc. These levels of authentication prevent overlapping one’s task with another and can even stop a breach. If a user is given more permission than required and his account gets compromised, the attacker can take advantage of that situation, worsening things.
So, learning authentication levels, administrator privilege, and such will significantly benefit learning cybersecurity.
Do you know what TCP/IP or OSF, OSFP is? They are network protocols. For data to get from point A to point B, from server racks to our computer display, from our keystroke to another server, sending an image to a friend, all these go under a complex mechanism. The mechanism can be dissected as much as we want, forming a single network.
Understanding these points will get you started in cybersecurity, widen your view on the network, and appreciate the modern network infrastructure. What makes art special? It’s appreciated by the artist and made with much care. Same as the network. It’s built bit by bit to work as a whole.
Different networking layers, standardizations, packets, ping, sessions, etc., are core parts of network infrastructure.
Education is a plus point when getting a job in cybersecurity-related positions. There are tons of options for cybersecurity-related employment, and education helps get the resume to employers’ door. Education is the best bet unless you have big projects running or something else to show off.
Though there are many certifications and courses that teachers better than most universities in cybersecurity, it is mandatory. A professional cybersecurity expert can come from any field.
From beginner level to the top, everything contributes to a career. A higher-up position requires a master’s degree and certifications, and years of experience.
Positions include Information Security Specialist, Incident Manager, Penetration Tester, Security Director, Information Security Consultant, Security Engineer, Security Assessor, Security Manager in IT, Security Architect, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), and more.
Companies may hire based on educational background and level of expertise.
Online certification courses
There are tons of materials on the web to learn the craft. Here are some notable mentions of the best online resources. We are not sponsored in any way for recommending these certifications. The listing contains the best cybersecurity courses all around and is not presented in any sorted manner.
- IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate (Financial aid available): IBM is one of the top tech vendors in the world. With 4.6 out of 5 ratings from 4,552 students, the course has 50,513 students enrolled at the moment. There are about 220k students who took the course, and it can be a great way to learn from professionals. The course introduces cybersecurity analyst tools, endpoint protection, SIEM, and network fundamentals.
- Introduction to Cyber Security Specialization (Financial aid available): Offered by the New York University, the course has 28,382 students enrolled and can be a great way to start the cybersecurity journey. The course summarizes the basics of identification and authentication in cybersecurity and the pros and cons of information security (INFOSEC).
- IT Fundamental for Cybersecurity Specialization (Financial aid available): The IT Fundamental for Cybersecurity Specialization is another top-rated course from IBM. It discusses the evolution of security, introduces firewall, antivirus, cryptography, digital forensics, penetration testing, and best practices. The course has over 210k students.
- Google IT Support (Financial aid available): With a 4.8 average rating from 109,569 students, the Google career certificate is one of the tops on our list. The teacher’s cybersecurity essentials and troubleshooting, debugging, computer assembly, wireless networking, using multiple operating systems like Linux. After taking the course, a certification is greatly appreciated by employers like Google.
- Python for Cybersecurity Specialization (Financial aid available): Python is one of the best programming languages for beginners, and it is used in both machine learning (ml) and artificial intelligence (AI). It is easy to grasp, great for automation, and can create highly effective tools in online defense. The mentioned course comes from Infosec, and we recommend you check it out.
- The Complete Cyber Security Course: Hackers Exposed (Occasional discounts): Though the course is not free, it offers many benefits. Apple, Box, Volkswagen, Netflix, and large companies recommend this curse to their employees. Take a look at one of the most prevalent cybersecurity courses in Udemy.
- The Complete Cyber Security Course: Network Security (Occasional discounts): Volume 2 of our certification mentioned above. It focuses on networking terms such as Wi-Fi hacks, exploits kits, network monitoring with Wireshark, TCPdump, and Syslog. There are a ton more taught throughout the journey, and it will be an excellent start for beginners to intermediate students.
- Cybersecurity Specialization (Financial aid available): Offered by the University of Maryland, the course teaches software testing, penetration testing, buffer overflow, cryptography, SQL injection, and a lot more. 74,047 students are already enrolled in the study, and we recommend you look at the curriculum.
- Introduction to Cybersecurity (Certification requires paid membership): introduction to cybersecurity is offered by Codecademy, a popular name in the tech world. But don’t let the popularity deceive you as thousands of employees come from Codecademy after learning from their resources. The vast inventory of tutorials, guides, and directions are pointed towards a secure future.
- It Security: Defense against the digital dark arts (Financial aid available): The course from Google is specially geared towards IT security concepts, best practices, tool’s introduction, firewall, authentication, and encryption. It is a beginner-level course of approximately 30 hours of material and, once finished, provides a certification.
Activity Types with Red Cybersecurity Team
To scope the assessment effectively, we get to the point where diverging the equation of activities comes in various terms. We learned the activity types in cybersecurity can involve physical, wireless networks, social engineering, internal network, external network, and pivoting. Let’s take a look at their briefs.
1. Physical: Physical offensive security can be risky for both tester and client. The organization or company hiring you to test their physical safety or break-in system can harm the company’s tangible assets.
Three general types of physical activities are no tech, high tech, and low tech.
2. Social Engineering: It is the art of manipulating a target into divulging information. Social engineering victims are picked by the target and planned on the attack procedure. It can track social media applications, phone calls, email, sensitive company data, and much more.
3. External Network: In any team engagement, testing activity in the external network is essential. External network tweaking and effort to conduct cyberattacks prevent deadly threats and remove potential risk.
Testing external networks is an everyday activity among cybersecurity professionals as they tend to fix every weak loophole in the system. Experimenting with external applications such as server peripherals and routers is a great way to advance a professional career.
4. Internal Network: Internal network assessment is a cost-effective way to monitor and fix problems without taking down the whole network. The lion’s share of cybercriminals use social engineering, and to tackle the issue, we select an internal network and strengthen its access points.
5. Pivoting: Pivoting refers to using gained access to one’s device, enumerating attacks, and secondly limiting the attack footprint. It is another integral part of checking engagement and finding issues in the system.
6. Wireless Network: Testing the wireless network involves real-life scenarios and can be broken down into three primary activities. Firstly, listening to gain further access and gain information to identify credentials and secondly, deploying active exploitation to attack and get information. Lastly, checking the denial of wireless capabilities after operating a system-wide upgrade.
Blue Team in Cybersecurity
Among several types of teams in cybersecurity, the blue team is a primary and common one. Their job is to handle security inside an organization and take risk management programs to fight against threats. The blue team meets with other cybersecurity experts and discusses plans for the organization or company.
Blue Team firstly gathers all necessary data regarding the protection and finds the weakest link. From there, they start tightening up the system and eventually do system upgrades.
Their forte is monitoring tools, DNS audits, system checking, internal or external vulnerability scans, and capturing or monitoring traffic. Being key organizational assets, their decision goes to the senior management level.
Suppose the team finds the web application is vulnerable to DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. They will reduce the availability of illegitimate requests, making DDoS the least of the webserver’s problems.
Footprint analysis, SIEM solutions, firewall access controls, endpoint software management, segregating networks are the Blue team’s regular work activities.
How to get into cyber security using Solo Learner Resources
Many resources are spread through the web for our future cybersecurity experts out there, and we are here to give some pointers. While learning solo requires a lot of motivation, our respect for those coming out of their comfort zone and learning stuff matters.
Here are a few online resources to practice cybersecurity online.
TryHackMe: TryHackMe will give online cybersecurity experience with hands-on practice materials. Mini-games, point ladder to climb, on-demand videos, and a large community of fellow minded individuals. Top security firms recommend TryHackMe for practicing and skill-building.
Hack The Box: Hack The Box is a massive cybersecurity training platform that allows members of all skill levels. Whether you have an educational background or skill level beginner or expert, Hack The Box has specialized resources for you. Various challenges, games, and the world’s largest hacking community are there to help in need.
PentesterLab: Real vulnerability solving, certificates, friendly support, hands-on cybersecurity materials are available at PentesterLab. Bootcamp, exercising on the platform will help fill the beginner’s initial hunger for learning cybersecurity.
Machine learning in cybersecurity
Machine learning has become a significant part of our life. A computer takes in users’ input, resulting in suggestion-based parameters. Machine learning or hybrid machine learning algorithms provide performance in single classifiers, which is exponential in the life of professional cybersecurity experts.
Who is an interesting choice to employers in hiring a cybersecurity expert? Someone with knowledge of machine learning and algorithm-based system or a vanilla employee who mastered old tactics? Feel free to answer the question on your terms and get into the latest technology.
Experimenting with datasets, correlation-based future selection, training with k-NN, C4.5, LDA, MLP, SVM, final hypotheses, and evaluating performance are the terms we use in the sector. Google them one by one to learn more. We can write books about it, which will hamper our simply giving pointers.
Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning
Similar to machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and deep understanding (DL) have seen massive growth in recent years and started influencing all sorts of technology. We’ve seen phenomenal growth in computer power with improved cognitive systems, automation, and deep learning protocols.
These technologies are made to respond on their own and act accordingly. Since they allowed us to expand automation tasks far beyond expectation, making them a lucrative target for cybercriminals, there are tons of protocols to respond effectively. As a cybersecurity professional, you’ll be tasked to assist them when required.
Though you’re a beginner now, after getting the experience, you’ll be tasked to face an international clash in cyberspace. So, using every tool in your arsenal will make you the ideal warrior.
We guess this is the most exciting part for many as many people ask which programing language to learn. The answer can be simple and complex at the same time. There are so many programming languages, so choosing one can get difficult for beginners.
We talk to the computer system with programing language; it is the only language they understand. There are so many components making the whole computing and network infrastructure, and each can have its preference.
Though this article is not for suggesting which programming langue is the best, we can say which one is best for which task and as you’re interested in cybersecurity, we can narrow the choice a bit more.
Python: Like the snake, it has flexibility, and the automation mechanism is top-notch. Python is a hacker’s go-to language for web servers, port scanning, network scanning, and speeding up the process.
There are tons of Python courses out there, and free resources are as good as the paid ones. According to Statista, Python has been the third most popular programming language among developers and programmers worldwide.
C and C++: These are low-level programming languages, meaning they interact with components much deeper. To get into cybersecurity, you must learn it. RAM and system processors and other allocation tools are easily manageable by C and C++.
Learning them will open up the world of learning another programing language more easily.
The creator of C++ said,
C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot; C++ makes it harder, but when you do, it blows your whole leg off.
Respectable mentions: Golang, PHP, SQL, Java, TypeScript, C#, Bash/Shell, Powershell, Kotlin, Rust, Ruby, R, Assembly are also pretty popular and used for various purposes. Of course, it’s not possible to learn all-in small-time frame. Take your time learning one or two, and rest will be an easy ride.
There are tons of certifications available for someone looking into cybersecurity. Educational institutions don’t have these in the curriculum, but these certifications give in-depth knowledge of the specific topic.
Our previous mention of online courses will give a broad idea of cyberspace, networking, and in-depth compute but the ones mentioned here are specifically targeted to specific opportunities. Let’s go through a few:
CISSP – The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is a globally recognized certification. Information technology security professional certificate is aligned with the latest (ISC)2 version. It teaches globally standardized information security tactics with a proper exam in the end.
CEH – The EC-Council offers certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). The examinee must have two years of experience before taking the exam without training.
SSCP – Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) is a certification for people looking for significant growth in the industry. CISSP requires two years of experience but SSCP requires one. The SSCP certification is provided and validated by (ISC)2.
CCSP – Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) is another (ISC)2 backed certification process. The CCSP program is globally recognized, and many organizations prioritize it. As more and more businesses are transitioning to the cloud, the demand for CCSP professionals is gradually rising.
CompTIA – Some of the best certifications in the IT world are provided by CompTIA. CompTIA has Security++, CySA+ certification programs. They teach threats, attacks, risk management, vulnerability, and management essentials.
GIAC – The Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) has mas many programs such as GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC), GIAC Mobile Device Security Analyst (GMOB), GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA). They are SANS-based training programs that teach cyber defense, penetration testing, incident response, forensics, and a few more. GIAC has its very own standardizing qualification globally.
ISACA – Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) was incorporated in 1969 and is a centralized source of information and guidance. Certified Information System Auditor (CISA), Certified ISACA offers information Security Manager (CISM) certifications.
CCNA – Offered by Cisco, the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is another globally recognized program that teaches in-depth IT, IP services, security fundamentals, automation, and programming. The certification is well respected among employers and will help acquire official recognition from Cisco.
There are plenty more; we can expand upon any topic regarding IT and Cybersecurity. Certifications are not just pieces of paper in this sector; it proves hands-on knowledge and guidance by best instructions with the latest tools.
Salary and Goals
Becoming a cybersecurity engineer has tons of benefits, one of which is a good pay scale. A cybersecurity engineer plays a vital role in keeping the infrastructure alive with excellent protection.
There are tons of opportunities, and you’ll end up in the desired spot with skill and patience. The vast ecosystem and options in cybersecurity will help you open new doors for employment with great benefits.
A cybersecurity analyst and cybersecurity architect earn about $108k on average, while a consultant makes an average of $89k. Threat Intel Analyst, Compliance Analyst, and pen tester will get you an average salary of $98k, $92k, and $118k, respectively. Salary stats are taken from Indeed (US).
As the article is aimed towards beginners eager to learn cybersecurity, this brief mention of salary of goals may help choose a career path easily.
The Future of Cybersecurity
There are a few primary keywords to which we want to give pointers. These are browsing, email, chat, audio, file transfer, P2P, video, VOIP. As you landed here somehow, you should have what they are by daily use terms. Go ahead and dissect each and see how they work in the eye of a veteran.
Without learning the basic concepts, you can’t go forward in a career like math problems. First, they were one plus one, later came square, then came alphabets and next thing we know, calculating time theories, space alignment, planetary distance, and a lot more with the same math. How fascinating.
We can safely say machine learning and artificial intelligence will evolve a lot more and what’s coming next?
Let’s not get discouraged with screen time while learning because it will teach you a lot.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your personal goal to get into professional cybersecurity or you just want to learn more on the topic. Wheatear the goal is, the journey will make you much more innovative and a better citizen in the digital world.
Like every expert in various departments, cybersecurity professionals are also hard grinders. They grind thousands of hours learning new tactics, teaching the rest of the team best practices, and preventing intrusion. As a result, customers’ information remains safe; data don’t get into the wrong hands.
How to get into cyber security is a question many beginners ask, and the article will benefit them the most. Nevertheless, even experts can go through the list and pick up a few things and remember that is on their to-do list, which will benefit them eventually. We hope the article serves you well to get into cybersecurity.