Career Path Security Basics

Most people starting a career in IT security have a huge interest in topics like hacking, programming, system administration, networking and so on. When you apply for a junior position, employers normally expect basic skills and huge motivation. In this article you can find some useful resources for learning the basic skills that are useful for all career paths in IT security. More specific articles for specialized career paths like penetration tester, DFIR expert, malware expert and so on, are about to follow.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for additional useful courses, please feel free to leave a reply in the comment section below or just add them to your personal training list.

I suggest to look for suitable courses or certifications, to set yourself a goal and make a plan how to reach your goal.

If you want to read how I started my career in IT security have a look here.

Programming

Depending on your career, you should have knowledge in various programming languages. As a penetration tester, these could be assembly, C, javascript, HTML, python and bash for the beginning. Programming skills are not only useful for penetration testers, but also for other career paths. For example in a blue team, programming skills are very useful for automatization.

In this section you can find some examples for learning basic programming, more specialized examples follow in the career path sections.

HTML

Html & JavaScript

Learn Basics by building your own Computer

Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris
Content: Teaches the basics of computer sience by building a computer from ground up. There is also a great TED talk about the course.
Career: All
Level: Beginner
Price: Free or with certificate

Programming Python

Python might be the most important language to learn as a starter.

Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)
Content: Python Basics
Career: All
Level: Beginner
Price: Free or with certificate

There is a ton of free resources on the web, this also looks useful:
https://www.python.org/about/gettingstarted/
https://www.learnpython.org/

More EDX courses: https://www.edx.org/learn/computer-programming

More coursera courses: https://www.coursera.org/browse/computer-science/software-development

Programming Bash, Learning Linux

For all career paths, you will need Linux skills.

https://www.bash.academy/
https://www.learnshell.org/
http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Bash-Prog-Intro-HOWTO.html

If you lack of basics in Hardware, OS and so on consider this one:
https://www.professormesser.com/free-a-plus-training/220-901/comptia-220-900-course/

Networking

Professor Messer’s CompTIA N10-007 Network+ Course
Content: Great and free video course for preparing the CompTIA Network+ exam, I recommend to add a book nevertheless.
Career: All 
Level: Beginner
Price: Videos are free

All in One CompTIA Network+
Author: Mike Meyers
Content: Coverage of the CompTIA Network+ certification exam objectives, goes into the topics in depth. I liked the questions after each chapter. Came with a CD with an exam simulator long ago, now the content is online. 
Career: All 
Level: Beginner
Buy at Amazon U.S.
Buy at Amazon Germany

You may consider to do the certification for the CV.

More Coursera courses: https://www.coursera.org/browse/computer-science/computer-security-and-networks

Learn about http:
https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTTP
https://www.tutorialspoint.com/http/

Basis Security

The Cuckoo’s Egg Decompiled Course
Content: Highly recommended course by Chris Sanders, teaching the basics of attacking and defending networks through the lens of the famous “The cuckoos Egg” book by Clifford Stoll.
Career: All
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

Professor Messer’s CompTIA SY0-501 Security+ Course
Content: Same as the Network+ course for Security+, I also recommend to read a book additional for preparation.
Career: All 
Level: Beginner
Price: Videos are free

Mike Meyers’ CompTIA Security+ Certification Passport
Author: Dawn Dunkerley
Content: For preparing the CompTIA Security+ Certification this book is recommended. It covers every topic from the exam and also includes review questions as well as a practice exam.
Career: All
Level: Beginner

You may consider to do the certification for the CV.

Introducion to Cybersecurity
Content: Short non technical introduction course for everyone who is curious about cybersecurity. Explains the basic concepts from a higher level.
Career: All
Level: Beginner
Price: Free or with certificate

More EDX courses: https://www.edx.org/learn/cybersecurity

More Coursera courses: https://www.coursera.org/browse/computer-science/computer-security-and-networks

Stay tuned, my next article will be about the career path for penetration testers.

Links

Thanks @SparkyS04 for proofreading.

Certifications Pro & Con

A lot has been written about certifications and whether you should have them or not. For me it is pretty simple, certifications helped me finding jobs and improving my career.

As a penetration tester I made OSCP and OSCE, for getting a bit more into DFIR I made the CHFI certification. At the beginning of my career I did CompTIA Network+ and Security+ for learning and prooving my skills. At some companies it is simply a door opener. I know enough people who never certified and are great at their jobs and also don’t have problems making a good career.

But of course there are other ways to show your motivation:

  • have projects or a blog that are showing your skills
  • have you found vulnerabilites? write them down in your CV
  • found something great? consider to give a talk at a conference
  • maybe you are a great CTF player?
  • don’t forget your personal network

Besides that, what certification you want to do strongly depends on your career path and the budget. SANS courses & certs cost a ton if you have to pay for yourself and are mainly useful if you want to go into DFIR.

On the other end there are certifications from EDX or coursera that are cheap but of course not that recognized. Certifications from securitytube are also worth a look.

After all it is the mix of certifiations, courses, experience, personality, connections and so on that enables your career.

EDX courses for free

EDX courses can be taken for free. Of course then you will miss the certificate, but the content is the same. Also you have a time limit for viewing the content, but in my experience it is more than enough.

Here is a short example:
After logging in with your account (register if you do not have one) search for the course you want attend to.

For the example I choosed “Introduction to Cybersecurity”.

Choose “Enroll now” on the course page:

Scroll down a bit and choose “Audit this course”:

One the next page you can just start the course. A dialog might be shown that you can earn the certificate, you can just ignore that or choose “Explore the course” here:

Enjoy and keep learning!