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Cyber Sec – From Hobby to Profession

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The cyber and information security fields are growing quickly. Technology is evolving, and with it are evolving all the dangers of the Web. Today, every company is aware of the importance of having a cyber professional in its workforce. Companies are looking for skilled professionals to prevent cyber attacks and leaks of sensitive information that may endanger their operations, their customers, and the status of the company.

As you well know, the magnitude of cyber responsibility is huge and work is critical to a company’s long-term viability. Therefore, despite the high demand for professionals in the field and the constant increase in the number of job openings in recent years, the screening criteria and requirements are becoming more rigorous each day, with the competition getting tighter.

The only way to beat the thousands of other cyber professionals on the market competing for the job you’re after is simply to be better, more experienced– a real pro!

How?

We’ve put together 10 tips to becoming a cyber professional who will be snatched up instead of left knocking at the door.

Tip # 1- Know who you are

Perhaps you will dismiss this tip as unnecessary. But this is one of the most important tips on the list and first for a reason.

The word “hacker” has come to mean different things over time. Today, little respect is associated with the term, which can be appended to every 12-year-old who’s managed to guess the password for his aunt’s Gmail account. Originally, the title “hacker” was given to the highest-level professionals with extensive knowledge of code writing, operating systems, data networks, and databases who succeeded in developing sophisticated attacks.

So if you define yourself as a “hacker” and strive to be a professional, be aware of your level of knowledge right now, set goals for your progress, understand the responsibility entailed, and plan to develop your skills.

Tip # 2 – It’s been done before

Remember, the cyber industry is bigger than you and has existed long before you thought of being part of it, meaning that you have a lot of material to master, cases to be studied, and the expertise of others to tap. From the most significant break-ins in history to the leading people in the industry, the list of resources is long.

Have you encountered interesting information? Don’t stop here! This is the time to start asking questions and exploring. How did that hacker do that? What characterized his hacking style? What were the results? Can I retrace the steps or even improve them? What were the goals? After all, if you don’t know where you came from, how will you know where you want to go?

Tip #3 – Choose a role model

As mentioned in the first tip, to be a hacker you need knowledge and experience in a wide range of areas – and learning takes time. So until you get there, choose a person who has made the journey and wants to share with you the tools they’ve accumulated along the way. Then, learn from them as much as possible.

If you’re wondering who to start with, here are two industry leaders from whom you can learn something (and we recommend following them on Twitter):

  1. Tavis Ormandy, senior security researcher at Google
  2. Samy Kamkar – an American privacy and security researcher, computer hacker, whistleblower and entrepreneur

For a list of other experts worth following, visit: https://www.securityinnovationeurope.com/blog/page/security-experts-you-need-follow.

Tip # 4 – Experiment, wonder, and make mistakes

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. More importantly, don’t stop experimenting. Theoretical learning is important and necessary, but without hands-on practice in the field, implementing, writing codes, and experimenting with breaches and defenses at different levels, chances are that you will tread water instead of advancing.

You wouldn’t want to eat a dish at a restaurant that the chef had learned to prepare only by watching someone else but had never tried to prepare himself. So get your hands dirty, experiment, make mistakes,  and improve.

Tip # 5 – Stay on the train

The train is speeding forward, and you do not want to be left behind, eventually becoming unqualified. Therefore, it’s important that you always stay informed by staying connected in the spheres that will provide you with information quickly and easily: Joining Facebook groups, frequenting informational sites, and– the most efficient way to make information come to you – registering to have information sent directly to your email.

It’s important not to create an overflow of data, so filter a customized amount of information for yourself, giving yourself a reasonable amount of time, say, when you’re having a cup of coffee, to keep up with all the hot developments taking place in the tech world.

A recommended site whose mailing list is worth joining is www.thehackernews.com. As for Facebook groups, check out  Cybersecurity Club @ FSU and Computer Networking & Security.

Tip #6 – Learn from the best

Unlike many other fields, cyber security requires prior knowledge and experience in the IT or development world. The vast majority of cyber professionals are involved in communications infrastructures, servers and enterprise services, and Internet and mobile technologies. You should also have some background in writing code.

So if you decide that you want to take your career one step further and take an information security course or a cyber course, and you already have the experience you need, don’t compromise on the quality of the program or on the level of experience of  the teachers. It always helps also to conduct a market survey and research the instructors’ backgrounds to make an informed decision.

Tip #7 – Know the enemy

Since you can’t know when the next attack will come, your best defense is to know who will launch the next attack and how. So, who are the enemies on the ground?

  1. The non-techies – People without technical expertise or a professional background who have been given privileges, but abused them. They make up a small portion of the total number of attacks but can do considerable damage.
  2. Script Kiddies – People without any professional backgrounds but who have basic technical capabilities to download automated tools ready for attacks. Their goal is usually to gain social status among peers or within a computer-related community.
  3. Amateur attackers – people with experience writing code and a general understanding of software, who succeed in inventing their own attacks or upgrading existing attacks.
  4. Hacker – This is who you want to be! An experienced person with wide and varied knowledge usually attained through a hacker course. For a full definition, you’re welcome to read and memorize Tip #1. The hacker will perform the most sophisticated and complex attack, so no matter which side you are on – the attacker or the defender – your abilities must be equal to or surpass your enemies’.

Once you know whom you’re up against, the real war begins, and it begins with the next tip!

Tip # 8 – Sharpen the sword

With each experience, you will become better acquainted with the unique functionalities of different applications. Therefore, it’s important to engage in as many “battles” as possible in real time. Keeping up with innovative methods and professional developments, as well as constant practice using newly acquired tools are what will help you stay equipped for the battles of tomorrow.

Tip # 9 – Take the challenge

All hackers face challenges, but the best seek them out. Even if you’re just starting, don’t be afraid to tackle tasks that require slightly higher skills than you think you currently have, even if they will require a little more effort. You can always consult and connect with someone a bit more experienced than you. Ego is something that hinders progress, which challenges what will propel you forward.

Tip #10 – Believe in your abilities!

You can be a skilled, professional, and experienced international hacker, but if you don’t believe in your abilities and you transmit insecurities to others, there isn’t much chance that a company with a database whose loss of function can put the entire business at risk will hire you.

So, although this job is conducted behind the scenes, don’t forget to practice the social skills you need to help you gain the confidence necessary at job interviews and the workplace. Establish a professional environment for yourself and network with people who can open the industry’s doors for you.

In conclusion, professionalism is acquired through persistence, but there are quite a few ways to shorten the journey. If you know how to act correctly and systematically, work hard, and continue to accumulate the necessary knowledge, cyber secrets will open up to you along with a world of challenges, fascinating puzzles, and fast-paced action.

And most importantly – you’ll become a true professional!

Good luck on your way to the cyber top!

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