How to Start a Cyber Security Career
A career as a cyber security expert can take a few paths. It is possible to acquire the training you need in a university setting, but many cyber security expert are self-taught. There are others who have a blend of formal education combined with self-training. This may involved hacking into computer systems (legally) that belongs to you and evolve into working your way around more complex machines and internet systems. Like many other trades, cyber security experts learn by reverse engineering and then reassembling someone else’s work. Hackers learn their skills by working though hardware and software. Cyber security professionals are often white hat hackers.
A hacker is a person who breaks into hardware, software, apps, or IT systems unlawfully. Generally the goal is to grab money or valuable data from the victim. This is a more modern meaning of the word. In the 1980s, the word hacker meant anyone who was working around, or “hacking”, an IT system for the sake of making something work or to improve it. Sometimes programmers “hack together” a solution to a problem. The word hacker now indicates – a hacker is someone that breaks into an IT system or machine with malicious intentions.
Learn to Code
Those who choose to become cyber security experts are often programmers or system administrators. An established IT career is a good starting point to becoming a cyber security expert. System administrators typically have college degrees – a Bachelor’s or MIS degree – plus a few years of experience working on IT systems. Experienced IT professionals easily transition to cyber security careers after some additional training which may include certificates and vendor sponsored training.
If you are not already a programmer, then consider picking up some knowledge of coding. This will enable you to be able to hold a conversation about computing environments so you can act as a go-between in corporate teams. Even if you don’t plan on being the forensics person, a basic knowledge of programming will allow you to communicate effectively with IT teams and management.
Read Cyber Sec News
Set up an RSS feed and follow trending cyber sec topics and stay relevant by reading daily IT news. You should definitely read cyber security news to stay on top of current and upcoming laws and regulations. Get certified from IIPA to learn more about regs or try CompTIA for world class certifications. Read the current cyber security laws and become an expert. For example, Chicago and California both already both have data protection laws.
Cyber security experts may be former hackers themselves in the literal sense of the word. At times, companies have held hack-a-thons or offering a bounty for hackers to break into a system. Large corporations looking to secure a high level of cyber security are know to invite hackers to break into their systems either to cause a certain action to occur or sometimes to acquire certain data. The best or winning hacker, might receive a prize and sometimes they may become an consultant to the very same company they just broke into.
Universities are offering college degrees, becoming a cybersecurity expert does not necessarily require a college degree.
Steps to Become a Cyber Security Expert
- Earn a Bachelor’s Degree. A bachelor’s degree may be required by large corporations to work as a computer security expert
- Consider certificate programs for cyber security specialty knowledge
- Practice programming and hacking (lawfully) on your own
- Increase your level f expertise through continuing education and hands-on experience
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers