Transitioning to Cyber Security

A career in cyber security isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you’re planning for your future as a young person. You may even be oblivious of the fact that it is one of the biggest issues facing the world in entirety at the moment. So how do you really end up in this field? To try and answer this, I will give you a brief story of my career and how I ended up in Cyber Security.

image from pixabay

It begun with curiosity

My love for technology started when I was a young boy. Back then, mobile phones had just penetrated the market but the cost of owning one was mind boggling! This meant that our parents were the sole owners of a mobile device. I grew very curious of how this device worked so I would play my little tricks of tweaking a few settings so my parents would give me the phone to “fix it” and there I would spend my sweet time learning how it worked. Just like that, I graduated from phones to Computers and the story goes on and on…

…and then I fell in love,

It started when I was pursuing my undergrad. Once, we were given an assignment to write a program in java to draw a Christmas tree. At first, the language didn’t make sense to me but, with few YouTube videos, cursing the computer and dashed hopes of ever learning any code, I learnt to create trees of different shapes and sizes. The end result fascinated me so much that I decided to dig deeper into programming. Fast forward to the end of my undergrad, I was developing a fully functional Point of Sale System for a client. I had fallen in love with the code.

What next?

Honestly, coding exposed me to a different world of technology I hadn’t perceived before but as it turned out, it was just the beginning. I never lacked curiosity all along and this time, it led me to thinking slightly outside the box. Instead of coding to make the computer do what you need it to do, why not code it to make it do what it isn’t supposed to do? It was like a epiphany when I discovered this is a whole career by itself and one with a very promising future for that matter.

Roll your sleeves and get to work

Armed with that knowledge, I applied for a Masters in Cyber Security. This is where things got interesting. I got to learn a lot of things that I took for granted as a programmer. Some of these things include:

  • Encryption of data at rest and data in transit.
  • Forms of encryption used over the internet and the basic functionality of secure end to end encryption in communication.
  • Introduction to ethical hacking and penetration testing.
  • Governance and risk assessment in Information Technology.

All these topics prepared me well to start my journey in Cyber Security.

Tips on starting your career

Beginning something is always difficult and requires a lot of hard work and discipline. Cyber Security is no exception, you need to develop good habits to get you going in this field. Some of the things that helped me as I begun my journey are as follows:

  • Always be willing to learn. Information technology is very diverse and you can never be an expert in everything. After all, they say “A wise man never knows all, only a foolish man knows everything.
  • Start small. Take baby steps when learning, start with whatever IT position you can get, even as a help desk officer and strive to learn as much as you can. Trust me, you will need these skills in the future.
  • Be proactive. IT is evolving fast, meaning cyber security has to evolve with the emergence of new technology. Always do your research and be at the top of everything. It helps.
  • Put your skills into practice. It is VERY important to be consistent with testing your skills. Join Hack the Box community, Attend CTFs, get involved in Discord channels focusing on Cyber Sec and write code as much as you can. This will help you learn and sharpen your skills.
  • Lastly, get a mentor. I know you have been told this since middle school. Getting a mentor especially someone who willingly shares information is very important as they will guide you in the right direction. They come in handy on those days you feel like you are lost and overwhelmed with the kind of advice everybody is putting out there.

If you have gotten here, thank you for reading this article and please like or thumbs up if you think it was helpful. Also, drop a comment on other topics I might have left out and you would like to be covered. Good luck!