Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started in Cybersecurity

The cybersecurity job growth rate is quickly on the rise, so it’s no wonder that talented individuals have set their sights on defending companies from attackers. But it can be difficult to figure out where to start on cybersecurity career paths, especially when it comes to the background knowledge and skills you need.

As a staffing company with 20+ years of experience, we find, vet, and hire cybersecurity experts every day, and we know what makes hiring managers tick when it comes to hiring these professionals. Keep reading to learn the basics of how to get started in cybersecurity.

ALSO READ: 14 Must Have Cybersecurity Certifications

 What You Need to Get Started in Cybersecurity

Most cybersecurity entry-level jobs require you to have a mix of hard skills:

  • Programming, which involves using coding languages to develop solutions
  • Networking, which focuses on understanding how networks work and defending digital assets connected to them
  • Knowledge of computer operating systems and how they work

A good starting place for a cybersecurity professional when it comes to programming languages would be Python, JavaScript, or C++. You may find that learning one makes it easier to learn the others. For instance, some feel that Python has a similar feel to C++.

These languages give you the ability to create cybersecurity solutions that minimize the amount of human work involved in protecting a network. For example, you can use Python to create scripts, which are like miniature programs that can scan networks and identify vulnerabilities or analyze network logs.

Another option, once you have a basic understanding of how coding enables cybersecurity tasks, is to use pre-written code found in open-source libraries. Even though you still have to understand how to code, pre-made tools can save you considerable time as you build actual solutions.

Here are a few other tips to follow so you can learn how to get started in cybersecurity:

Use Online Resources and Events

One of the least expensive and most convenient ways to practice your cyber defense skill is by using some of the many online resources available. Some of these include:

  • Virtual labs where you can set up cyber defense tools to protect against fictional attacks simulated in the lab.
  • Bug bounty programs, which involve identifying bugs or vulnerabilities in software. If you find an issue, you report it to the company and receive a reward for your efforts.
  • Capture the flag programs, which are competitions in which you work with others on a team to identify vulnerabilities and then capture “flags,” or strings of text hidden inside each challenge.

Work on Your Own Personal Projects

Personal projects can vary, but many new to cybersecurity may set up networks and practice designing security solutions to defend them. For example, you could set up a basic server and install an application on it, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) program. You can then deploy firewalls and virtual firewalls to protect the software from intruders.

Network and Connect with Others

By simply connecting with other learners, you can gain partners in your journey that can help you along the way. With networking, on the other hand, you’re reaching out to people specifically with an eye toward using that connection to land a job in the future.

Connecting with other cybersecurity learners is relatively easy via online forums and events. Networking in the cybersecurity sphere is also fairly straightforward but requires an organized, systematic approach. For example, your networking strategy may involve:

  • Attending a hackathon with the intention of meeting decision-makers at companies who are there to watch you and others perform.
  • Going to conferences with your portfolio with the aim of connecting with people looking to hire cybersecurity pros.
  • Attending the company events of your friends and family members with the purpose of touching base with a few decision-makers.
  • Partnering with other cybersecurity professionals via online challenges, with the intention of showcasing your skills and relatability and walking away with a few contacts.

The important thing is to set goals for each networking event. For example, you may want to form a connection with at least three decision-makers, exchange emails and social information, and communicate with them several times after that. In this way, you network with a purpose, making sure you use each interaction to stay top-of-mind for someone who could help you get a position.

Get Your Foot in the Door Now

One of the best ways to get started in cybersecurity is to connect with companies in search of cybersecurity talent. Regardless of how deep your portfolio or body of experience, by being proactive about establishing yourself in the field, you can greatly boost your chances of success.

This is where Insight Global comes in. We can give you access to cybersecurity jobs requiring a variety of skill sets and experience. Don’t wait—apply today!