A Career in Network Security
May 26, 2006
A career in network security... Where to start?
Some schooling and a healthy dose of experience is always a good jumping-off point. But today, making a living at keeping networks secure means more than having an intimate knowledge of protocols, suspicious log events and anti-malware.
Security is no longer an add-on, it's as fundamental as the operating systems on your machines and the routers and switches that are ferrying your data.
To make sure that data gets to where it is going safely, or stays where it belongs, administrators are usually in a state of constant vigilance and perpetual learning. Sure, it's a challenge, but it can also be rewarding if they're up to the task.
Our members discuss what it takes to get started in network security, and how to make that career choice a fulfilling one, maybe even prosperous.
One thing is for sure, however, even after you graduate the learning has just begun.
Note: Any opinions expressed below are solely those of the individual posters on the AntiOnline forums.
Getting Started in a Network Security Career
New member Ajc seeks advice from the AO crowd.
I have always been interested in Network and Information Security, although have never taken this much further than an interest. Despite my lack of experience I believe I would really enjoy a career in this subject area, and am looking for some advice on how to achieve this.
Would it be a good idea to try and get a job as a Network Administrator as soon as i graduate, and from there, work up into Network Security? Or would you recommend a programming job while I study for the various Network Security certifications available?
rapier57 offers some solid advice...
...check out SANS for training opportunities in your area, especially if you can get SANS-EDU courses (they are significantly discounted, or you can volunteer to help and get it for free).
With diploma in hand, HTRegz shares some insight.
Don't expect to start at the top, very few, if any, places will hire you as a Network Admin fresh out of school. More likely, you'll have to take a job as a help desk agent, or possibly lower. I'm not saying you will, I'm just saying don't set your sights so high that you refuse to take an entry-level position.
As for what you can do, learn, read and explore. Beyond that, just hope for the best.
After given the keys to the car, metaphorically speaking, morganlefay recommends taking it out for a spin...
Once you have access to the network you will need your technical skills, and the more OSes, network protocols, topologies and troubleshooting skills you have, the better you will be at finding, accessing and reporting on security issues.
nihil sizes up the situation in the UK.
You need to find a job first, and that will probably dictate your career path. To be perfectly blunt and honest with you, if a guy came to me with "x" years of programming experience and a bog roll of security certifications, wanting a job in network security, he would not get one.
The career paths are still quite well defined over here:
Programming > analysis/programming > analysis/design > project management...
A lot of UK outfits do not pay much heed to network security as a specialist occupation. As has been mentioned in these forums, the whole area is becoming more dumbed-down and automated as well.
Thinking of a livelihood devoted to defending networks? Discuss it here.