How To Get Started In Cybersecurity

How I got started…

The process was pretty slow. I was working as a network engineer and starting to delve into coding languages to help automate some work tasks. I began with AutoHotKey and built some fancy (…for me anyway) hotkeys to help speed up some daily workflows (like connecting to my work’s VPN while I got coffee). Everyone kept talking about python so I figured I would find a handy Udemy course that taught python in the context of network engineering. As I searched, I found a course that taught python, but in the context of ethical hacking. Hmm, that was a phrase I’d never heard before…to hack computers…ethically? As is customary with Udemy, there was a sale, and so I bought the python ethical hacking course! It was pretty neat, learning how to perform Man in the Middle attacks while learning how to automate techniques with python. But, the course recommended purchasing some USB WiFi adapters, and at the time I wasn’t in a position to spend lots of money. So, I abandoned the course. But, I didn’t abandon the idea that being an ethical hacker sound really, really….really cool.

Fast forward a couple of years and I began participating in an activity that got me asking myself, “how can I help people.” I guess I’ve always asked that question. Heck, I joined the military to serve and help my country! And when I left the military I tried to become a cop at my local police station so I can protect people from others who intend to do harm. Well, I failed to become a cop, and I was unemployed with a family, so I found a job as a network engineer. And recently when I was faced again with this question, I recalled the idea of being an ethical hacker and I was led to find out more about cybersecurity. So, I guess the first step is finding the desire. What drives you? Why are you thinking about cybersecurity? Is it a strong enough desire to spend hours learning and practicing? If so, here’s what to do next:

Find a community

I am NO expert in trying to tell you where you should go or what to do. But, there are probably people in your local area who have started a cybersecurity community of like-minded folks who have the same desire as you and have been doing it a lot longer. If you don’t have anything local, TO THE INTERNET! Just search for forums on cybersecurity and join some groups. Luckily I found a local group! Once you find a community, next:

Start engaging with the community

Start going to meetings, posting in the forums, participating in discussions, connecting with members on social media, and ask questions…LOTS of questions! Once you do this and start showing people that you’re interest is sincere, you’ll start getting a flood of advice. In fact, starting this blog was based on the sage advice of members of my community! It was from my community that I found a treasure trove of resources to start my learning and received great advice on the certification path I should pursue. I also learned about sites like TryHackMe to help with the practical skills. I discovered that there are tons of free resources offered by my local library. So, the key takeaway is to start talking with people and you’ll be blessed with lots of great advice.

Start learning

Once you have an idea of what you want to be when you grow up from talking with folks, now start buckling down! Start reading those cert books, watching YouTube videos, start playing with TryHackMe, participate in Capture The Flags (even if you have no experience, do it anyway!), etc. If the more you dive into the resources the more you find it’s something you want to do, then I think you’ve officially “started” in cybersecurity. Congrats, I’m proud of you!

Conclusion

No matter what stage of life you’re in, if you have a desire to do cybersecurity then I encourage you to pursue it. Getting started is as easy as talking with some folks who know a thing or two about cyber, and then start using their advice to learn. Once you start engaging and learning you’ll start to build an awesome momentum. But the hardest part is taking that first step, but you can do it!

If you’re made it this far, THANK YOU for taking the time to read. Please, connect with me on TryHackMe and LinkedIn:

https://tryhackme.com/p/jonathanbheadley

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-headley/

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Jon Headley

Jon Headley

From Electrical Engineering to officer in the Air Force to copier salesman to network engineer to python developer to cybersecurity…where will I go next?