Many people have asked, "How long does it take to learn Cyber Security?". This is an all too common question. Before you can answer it, you must first take a look at yourself. What are your interests, what are you good at; what is something that drives you? After you have completed this self-evaluation, we are ready to find the answer.
Learn the fundamentals. There is confidentiality, integrity, and availability. You will see these often referred to as CIA. These principles are the building blocks of any security apparatus, and learning them will help you develop a strong, solid foundation. Now that we know what our fundamentals are let's look at our paths.
There are generally three paths to a career in Cyber Security. The first path is college-based. You go to school, major in Cyber Security, and get a degree. An Associate's degree, which requires two years of study; a Bachelor's degree, which requires four years of study; or a Master's degree, which requires six years of study. There are even some that go on to attain PhDs in certain specific portions of Cyber Security. But, if you are just starting out, maybe that's not the path that you want to take.
The second path is the certificate route. Now, individuals can begin a career in Cyber Security in as little as four months. They take a basic Intro to Cyber Security course, complete a test, and now they are in. Does that mean that they know everything there is to know? No, it doesn't. It just means that this person knows enough to understand the basics. If the basics are all you wish to know, then this may be the path for you.
Lastly, there is the Self Guided method. Some people learn best when they teach themselves. This individual participates in Capture the Flag exercises. Maybe they learn a programming language. After learning the language, they begin looking for holes in the code of a program to see whether or not they can make it do something that it was not designed for. The self-taught individual gets to where he is by having years of practice, looking at the landscape. Watching walkthroughs, reading write-ups or white papers, and attempting to emulate that which they saw and read.
No matter which path you take, certain rules always apply. You want to know your strengths. You want to know your foundation. You want to practice. And, you never want to stop learning. Cyber Security is a multi-faceted landscape that is forever changing.
You can start following individuals who have walkthroughs and tutorials on Twitter and YouTube. You can read white papers and subscribe to the latest updates, so you know when an exploit was newly released. You can read books by individuals who are experts in the field.
The threat landscape changes often. What works today, to defend a network, could leave it vulnerable to attack tomorrow. With that ever-changing landscape, comes an opportunity for you, the reader, to find a path that not only is profitable, but pleasurable. No one can ever truly say that they know everything there is to know about Cyber Security. Think about it this way: when the internet was first created, there was an individual who created a worm that infected approximately 10% of the internet at that time. This worm exploited various protocols. Because, at that time, it had never occurred to anyone that someone would attempt to do something malicious over the internet. Most of the individuals that ran the network knew each other; they were friends. So, why would someone want to do something malicious? When the ipv4 protocol was first created, it never occurred to people that there would come a time when these addresses would run out. But, we have already surpassed that and have moved on to the implementation of the IPv6 protocol. Things are always changing. You can look at the things that you enjoy, or your strengths, and there is a career path in Cyber Security that is an almost perfect fit for you. If you feel lost, join events. There are multiple events throughout the world, where individuals that are like-minded come together.
The journey is not going to be easy. But, with that in mind, think back to when you were a child. Did you learn to walk immediately? Did you just, one day, decide to up and run a marathon? No. You stumbled, you fell, you hit your head. If you did not continue trying, you would not be able to walk today. Maybe your first dealings with a hacking distribution leave you feeling at ease. This is something that is very common and happens to us all, no matter how long you have been doing this. The thing that sets winners and losers apart is persistence.
Understanding the path to learning Cyber Security is an interesting venture. But, if you learn the foundation, put it into practice, surround yourself with like-minded individuals, and you continue growing, you will know cybersecurity. It can be as little as four months, maybe less. The time it takes to know cybersecurity depends on you, the individual learning it.
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