Cybersecurity is one of the trending technologies offering several interesting job roles. Many are interested in learning Cybersecurity and pursue a career in this domain.
The gap between academic knowledge gained in cybersecurity that fresh graduates graduating in Computer Science and the hands-on skills in real-world scenarios is still significant.
Employers find it difficult to match the level of skills available to ground zero requirements. You will need exposure to much more hands-on education in cybersecurity, or an at the very least, than what has been taught to you in your academic journey.
If you are one of those, who are thrilled by the challenges that cybersecurity throws at you and want to master the skills required to be a top-rated cybersecurity professional, read on.
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The usual clamour of folks wanting to get into cybersecurity is on what certifications to take and what specialization to select in computer security. Very few focus on the practical skills that they should scale upon.
From experience, it is safe to say that you can gain a good level of mastery of hands-on skills through self-learning and trial and error methods. While hands-on knowledge is essential, foundational knowledge is also necessary.
The first and the most essential piece of advice is to gain as much hands-on experience as possible. The fastest way to learn in the cybersecurity field is to get down and get your hands dirty.
Now that does not mean you break into someone else’s network or hack a website. Absolutely no. There are, in fact, incentive-based third-party services and sites that offer recognition for hacking in. This is usually called ethical hacking.
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The best way is to replicate or simulate what can be done in the real world. Whatever you want to learn from a hands-on perspective can be replicated locally.
If you’re going to master how a vulnerability is exploited, there are many free resources available online, like WebGoat, Metasploit that allow you to do so. Besides, Linux distributions like Kali Linux have good community-based educational content, including videos.
Also, there are quite a few vulnerability detection tools like Nessus, Nmap, Nikto, and others available free on the internet to help you understand what vulnerabilities are and how they are exploited.
How to go about Cybersecurity
Firstly, set up your hacking labs with the help of an old spare laptop and a server. If you do not have one, you could scour the internet for some old hardware that will come cheap.
The next step is to get familiar with various operating systems. The best way to do so is to use free virtualization tools like VirtualBox. VirtualBox is the simplest way to tinker with different operating systems on your existing hardware.
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Another option that you might want to think of is using cloud services like Amazon’s EC2 service that offers computing resources for free for a limited amount of data and period of usage.
If you are interested in testing web applications, you can install several web services on computers in your local network. Some good examples are Joomla, Magneto, and WordPress.
Networking is an integral part of cybersecurity. To get started with networking, get a decent book on TCP/IP such as TCP/IP Illustrated by W. Richard Stevens. Thorough knowledge of each layer in the network stack and how they interact with each other will be good to start with.
It will also help develop skills in TCP/IP monitoring or snooping tools like Wireshark and TCPDump. These are tools that network admins rely on to troubleshoot network hacks and tracing back to their origins.
You can try inspecting your network traffic and computer usage. You will get a fair idea of what data every application is sending across the network and sometimes even what those data packets might contain.
Using Programming skills
Knowing one or more programming languages, particularly in Java, Go, Perl, Python, C, or Ruby, gives you an added advantage. The programming knowledge that you gain can help you in exploring deeper corners of the cybersecurity domain and achieve mastery.
At some stage of your journey, you might realize that it is impossible to go beyond a certain level in cybersecurity without knowing how to code.
Get some mentorship or help.
Learning a new programming language or gaining cybersecurity training is no easy task. It takes a lot of time and effort to reach a reasonable level of knowledge in this field.
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You can get some help on the same by joining professional courses targeted and specific to your learning objective. Besides that, there are support groups or community groups.
In the cybersecurity industry, knowledge sharing takes place in events like local meetups and conferences. Getting and staying in touch with members of such groups will go a long way in helping your career in cybersecurity.
Many such groups and gatherings are free to attend, like the DEFCON or OWASP chapters and events. The good part is many of these gatherings are now virtual.
Do not solely depend on academic qualification and knowledge gained in your educational journey to enter the cybersecurity domain.
You need to have good hands-on skills to prove your work in this domain right from the beginning. Also, this field is all about continuous learning, without which you are pretty much outdated every quarter.
Choose the best institute that offers many cybersecurity courses that help you with academic and practical knowledge to get you cracking at your career goals in cybersecurity as quickly as possible.