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What is something I can do to get my foot in the door to cybersecurity?

Im a senior in Highschool and I want to major in cybersecurity what are things I should know before hand

Thank you comment icon Hi Harun, There are many valuable advices here already. Even though I agree with them, they might be a little too heavy as a starting point. I would suggest picoCTF which is a gamified capture-the-flag type of game where you can learn about cybersecurity in a fun way. Good luck! Bertuğ Berkay YEMEN

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Vivek’s Answer

Hello Haarun,

What a fantastic question you've posed! I wish someone had guided me with this insight when I was embarking on my own cybersecurity adventure. Trust me, stepping into the realm of cybersecurity is not just an opportunity, but a thrilling and fulfilling journey.

Here's a roadmap to kickstart your cybersecurity career:

1. Start with an Online Certification: Consider taking a course from reputed platforms like Coursera or EdX. Alternatively, you could also opt for specific certifications like CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). These certifications can provide a solid foundation for your cybersecurity knowledge.

2. Dive into Capture The Flag (CTF) Competitions: CTF competitions are not just fun, they're also a fantastic way to sharpen your skills. There's a plethora of CTF challenges available online that offer practical experience, which is invaluable in this field.

3. Explore Internships and Entry-Level Jobs: Don't hesitate to start with internships or entry-level positions in IT or cybersecurity. Even if they don't seem directly related to your ultimate goal, remember that every bit of experience in IT support or networking can serve as a stepping stone to your dream cybersecurity role.

Remember, every journey begins with a single step. So, go ahead and take that first step towards your cybersecurity career. You've got this, Haarun!
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Anoop’s Answer

Hi Haarun!

Having an IT background will undoubtedly be beneficial when you're aiming for a role in cybersecurity. You could consider beginning your journey with a position such as a help desk technician. This could potentially lead you to a system administrator role, where you'll acquire extensive knowledge and skills related to systems, networks, and applications. These are all crucial for a prosperous cybersecurity career.

In terms of certification, the CompTIA Security+ certification might be the most affordable and effective option for you. It's an excellent starting point, and you can progressively aim for more advanced certifications as your career progresses.

If there's one thing to emphasize, it's the importance of a solid foundation in systems and networking. This knowledge will undoubtedly pave the way for your success in the cybersecurity field.
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Faraaz’s Answer

Fantastic inquiry! I've been in your shoes, unsure of how to make that initial step into the industry. The truth is, you've got to begin with the fundamentals, solidify your base, and gain a comprehensive understanding of technology. For instance, some may suggest getting a Security + certification or something similar. That's solid advice, but without a grasp of the tech stack or network layers, you're essentially just checking boxes to appear competent. Plus, most certifications necessitate prior experience, so even if you pass the test, you can't claim certification without a few years under your belt, which can be disheartening.

Kick off your journey by expanding your knowledge. YouTube is a treasure trove of simplified, easy-to-understand information. Use resources like the Security + book, supplementing any unclear parts with YouTube videos. Once you've built a knowledge base, consider starting at a basic level, perhaps as a help desk support technician. This will allow you to apply your newfound knowledge and familiarize yourself with the tools and processes used in the field.

Next, aim for certifications. Register for the Comptia Security + exam and push yourself to excel and pass. These certifications, coupled with your experience, will bolster your resume and support your career trajectory. Start with the basic Comptia Security +, then consider specializing based on your future aspirations. If Cloud Security interests you, decide which platform you'd like to specialize in, be it AWS, Azure, GCP, each with its own certification pathway.

Breaking into the industry today is no easy feat, but remember that anything worth achieving requires effort. It calls for hard work, consistency, and patience. Focus on gaining knowledge, understanding how everything interconnects, and before you know it, you'll be more than just a foot in the door. Best of luck on your journey!
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Michelle’s Answer

You can try some summer camps sponsored by National Security Agency called GenCyber - https://www.gen-cyber.com/.

To stay abreast of the current landscape you can do the following :
Follow the Internet Storm Center - https://isc.sans.edu/

Sign up for U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team’s (CERT’s) alerts and bulletins mailing lists - https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity

review the Open Web Application Security Project’s (OWASP’s) Top Ten List of web vulnerabilities - http://www.veracode.com/directory/owasp-top-10

You can look into some certificate programs like CompTIA’s A+ and Network+ - https://www.comptia.org/
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Sukhminder’s Answer

The power lies in your skillset. College degrees and the field you choose may seem insignificant when you become a master in a specific area. The IT field is expansive. For instance, if you decide to focus on Networking, or more specifically, Cyber Security, you'll realize these are incredibly broad fields. Whether you're a router specialist or an expert in a particular security area, your college degree won't hold as much weight. The industry is on the lookout for individuals who are specialized in one area. After all, there's already a sea of college graduates filling up their interview rooms. So, remember, it's your unique skills that will make you stand out!
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Jérôme’s Answer

Hello Haarun,

Just as many have pointed out, cybersecurity is an incredibly diverse field with numerous pathways. The beauty of it lies in the fact that individuals from all walks of life and various disciplines can make significant contributions towards securing any environment. To get started, I suggest immersing yourself in a few YouTube videos for a broad overview, then delve into an area that piques your interest. You might even choose to explore an entirely different topic, only to discover a cybersecurity element that resonates with you.

Joining local groups, whether at school or beyond, is another fantastic way to gain exposure. I encourage you to immerse yourself in communities or lessons that revolve around technology. As you explore, you'll start to notice certain areas that captivate your interest. This field is vast and exciting, and there's always something new to learn. So dive in, and let your curiosity guide you!
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Brian’s Answer

Dear Haarun,

Your question is excellent, and it's commendable that you're thinking about pursuing a career in Cybersecurity. This sector is expanding and seeking skilled individuals, so you're heading in the right direction. Initiating your journey in this career could be as straightforward as reading a cybersecurity book. However, there's much more you can do. Cybersecurity is a vast domain with numerous paths to explore.

The initial steps I would suggest include familiarizing yourself with Windows and Linux, understanding their operations, and learning to manage these systems. This knowledge could assist you in identifying the cybersecurity area you find most appealing and wish to concentrate on. Cybersecurity is a diverse field, and pinpointing an area you enjoy will help maintain your focus and make the journey more pleasurable.

Subsequently, gaining knowledge about how networks function and how to set them up could be a beneficial next move. This understanding of how computers communicate with each other is a crucial step in any cybersecurity skill set. Following this, consider learning programming languages like C#, Python, JavaScript, or experimenting with scripting tools such as PowerShell or Bash.

Lastly, it could be beneficial to check if there are local chapters of ISSA or ISACA in your vicinity and participate in some of their meetings. These organizations are committed to Cybersecurity and related professions and can provide an excellent platform to network with people working in or aspiring to work in security. These interactions can lead to study groups, friendships, and potentially job opportunities.

Remember, this field is continuously evolving, so be prepared to keep learning and exploring new concepts. Best of luck on your journey to becoming a security professional!

Brian recommends the following next steps:

Start to learn Windows or Linux System Administration
Learn about networking and networking protocols
Learn scripting or programming
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Joan’s Answer

Hello Haarun!

It's wonderful to know you're interested in cybersecurity, a dynamic and rapidly evolving field. The landscape of cybersecurity is constantly being reshaped by technological advancements and a significant rise in cyber threats.

There are numerous pathways to kickstart your journey in cybersecurity. A great starting point could be enrolling in a cybersecurity program specifically designed for high school students. Such programs aim to familiarize students with the fundamentals of cybersecurity while equipping them with the necessary skills for a future career in this domain. You'll find a variety of programs available, including summer camps, online courses, internships, and training camps.

Successfully completing cybersecurity courses not only shows your proactive approach but also exhibits your technical prowess. If you're aiming for a degree in cybersecurity or information technologies, this could give you an edge over other applicants in the eyes of the admissions team.

Here are a few cybersecurity programs tailored for high school students that you might find interesting:

1. CyberPatriot: This national cybersecurity competition invites teams of high school students to tackle real-life cybersecurity issues.

2. GenCyber: This initiative offers free summer cybersecurity camps for both students and teachers.

3. Cybersecurity Youth Apprenticeship Program: This program offers high school students practical experience in cybersecurity through apprenticeships.

Besides participating in these programs, you can independently delve into the world of cybersecurity by reading relevant books, enrolling in online courses, and honing your skills through practice.

I recommend reaching out to your school's Academic Advisor or Counselor, who can guide you to these resources in your locality.

Best of luck on your journey!
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Peter’s Answer

Many people have shared some really useful tips. I'd like to pose a few questions to help you understand why you're drawn to Cyber Security.

1) Do you find joy in solving puzzles?
2) Do you have a knack for taking things apart and putting them back together?
3) Are you good at prioritizing tasks and making decisions?

The first question relates to the patience you'll need to sift through information and identify patterns. The second question is about whether you have the right skills or are willing to get the necessary training to succeed. The third question helps you assess your ability to identify what's important and focus on it.

If you answered yes to these questions, then you're on the right track! If not, consider working on developing a liking for these three aspects. Remember, the goal is to find success and satisfaction in whatever you choose to do. Cyber Security may not be for everyone, and just enjoying hacking doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a successful career in this field.
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Marit’s Answer

When contemplating a career in cybersecurity, remember that getting a cybersecurity degree isn't a mandatory requirement to thrive in the field! I can personally attest to this, as my journey into cybersecurity began while I was midway through a computer science degree. I hadn't even enrolled in a cybersecurity course before I started my career as a security engineer. Some professionals advise that security concepts are best absorbed in a practical work environment. If cybersecurity piques your interest, but you're hesitant to limit your future prospects, you might want to consider pursuing a more broad degree like math, computer science, data science. You can then supplement your studies with personal projects and elective cybersecurity courses while keeping your options more open.
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Vinny’s Answer

Hello!

Learn, learn , learn! Set up a lab, break it and then set it up again! Be curious and don't just understand how things work, understand why. When you are ready, an entry level certification can help distinguish you from the pack. ISC2 (the organization behind the CISSP certification gold-standard) has an entry level certification called CC – Certified in Cybersecurity. You can learn more, check it out here -> https://www.isc2.org/certifications/cc.

Good luck!
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Nagi’s Answer

Haarun,
great question. Others have provided some good pointers. Let me share mine and happy to address follow up questions:

first of all, Cybersecurity is a vast and expansive field. Gone are the days where Cybersecurity meant just something on your PC or mobile device. The scope of cybersecurity and its impact has grown across endpoints and into cloud.

There are many options for someone to get their feet wet in the field. I would suggest, going through some basic and fundamental knowledge and learning.

Microsoft have a fantastic set of learning tools that I suggest you explore to start off.
https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/training/paths/describe-basic-concepts-of-cybersecurity/

I would walk into these sessions with the plan to go one step at a time. Think of this exploration as baby-crawl-walk-run approach.

I wish you the best and happy to take follow up questions.
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Bob’s Answer

Hi Haarun,

I'm excited to point you towards an incredible opportunity that's perfect for cybersecurity enthusiasts like you. Google has developed a free course on Coursera, called "Foundations of Cybersecurity."

Once you successfully complete this course, you'll receive a certificate. This isn't just a piece of paper, but a testament to your genuine interest and commitment to this field.

Yes, it will require dedication, but remember, the effort you put in reflects your passion. So, dive in, and let your dedication shine through!

Bob recommends the following next steps:

After that, I recommend you the Security + Certification. There will be a cost to take this, but will show you are willing to go to the next level. Although, much of basic information is in the free Google course.
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Christopher’s Answer

Start with Computer Science degrees, and look at AI technology and ChatGPT. That is free AI that can allow you to learn and think about items you can use AI to benefit a business or present in a school career.
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Erneka’s Answer

Hello Haarun, great question! I read an amazing article not too long ago as I was providing advice to a younger family member (the link will be provided below). Some keys steps that I would recommend are:

1. Read and determine what areas within cybersecurity that are of interest and align with our goals (digital forensics, risk and compliance, application security, etc.)
2. Review certifications that are out there
3. Look for internships
4. Cold call and ask for help (nothing is stopping you from calling a CEO, inquiring and asking for help_
5. NETWORK and expand your network
6. Ask for help! Ask for help! Ask for help!

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/25/how-steve-jobs-cold-called-his-way-to-an-internship-at-hewlett-packard.html
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Lekeshia’s Answer

Hey Haarun!

Kick-starting your cybersecurity career while still in high school is a smart move. Start by immersing yourself in math, science, engineering, or other tech-related subjects. These will equip you with problem-solving abilities and sharpen your analytical skills. If your high school offers Cisco certification or any other IT courses, jump at the chance. These courses not only broaden your knowledge about computer/IT networking but also offer a chance to earn industry certification if you ace the exam.

In college, get involved with student or professional groups that expose you to industry trends and seasoned professionals. Groups like the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), and International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) are great places to start. They often offer educational opportunities, scholarships, networking events, and job postings. Make the most of internships, development programs/camps, and local or national security conferences (usually hosted by the aforementioned organizations). Fun fact: many cybersecurity professionals kick off their careers in IT support as network or systems administrators, so don't overlook these roles. Other entry-level cybersecurity roles to consider are information security analysts or IT auditors. The CompTIA Security+ certification is a great first step and will prepare you for these roles.

In a nutshell, to pave your way into a cybersecurity career, focus on STEM education in high school, aim for a degree in computer science, IT, engineering, or cybersecurity, and get involved with organizations that offer additional training and networking opportunities. From there, it's all about making connections and gaining experience through internships, development programs/camps, or part-time work. Best of luck, Haarun! Reach for the stars!
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