Cybersecurity Training Guide: How to Get Started and What to Expect
Cybersecurity is a big field—and it’s only getting bigger. As the demand for digital professionals grows, emergent specializations redefine the way prospective hires view the industry. Online environments are constantly shifting—and those capable of understanding those environments need to stay involved and up to date with education.
Cybersecurity experts also need consistent training to apply each year’s newest digital protection techniques. For most—jumping headfirst into a specialized field isn’t only tough—but nearly impossible. Security consultants, security architects, and information security officers need to do more than meet the pace of today’s cyber threats to keep their respective workplaces safe, year-round.
While the world of professional digital security is quite expansive, its variety of occupations can be boiled down into just a few cornerstones. Much like other industries, these areas span across day-to-day testing, management, consulting, security, and more. Because managed networks are composed of several specialist work areas, expertise directly relates to one’s career options.
The Core Components of Cybersecurity
Prospective digital security workers should explore these cornerstones because they often overlap. Digital architectures have clearly defined ‘process areas,’ but—as with anything digital—these process areas share numerous dependencies. While specialists in their respective regions, these digital defenders frequently find themselves servicing a given system’s other facets.
They’ve been trained to do so, making each specialty incredibly dynamic in design.
Let’s take a closer look:
We tend to use the term ‘cybersecurity’ when referring to business networks, information security, and anti-hacking strategies. While cybersecurity does extend to these things, its functionality is a little more specific.
In essence, cybersecurity is the practice of identifying, stopping, and counteracting digital threats—specifically those which seek valuable data for theft. In most cases, malicious scripts, fraudulent website links, and direct hacks attempt to achieve the same goal. Strikingly different, however, are their respective approaches. This is why cybersecurity isn’t all-encompassing. Much like malicious tools utilized for exploitation, a single digital defense toolkit can’t secure every digital access point.
In any event, cybersecurity serves as a foundational element of modern business—existing as the best anti-data-theft methodology we have. For prospective cybersecurity students, its scope can seem endlessly capable at times. To get the most out of your training as a future cybersecurity operator yourself, a closer look at cybersecurity’s commercial dynamic is a great start.
Network security and cybersecurity are commonly confused for one another, as both prioritize data protection—initializing, maintaining, and upgrading leading defensive tools to do so. Their big difference is readily identifiable, though, once it’s discovered:
Cybersecurity involves protecting a network’s valuable data on a strictly cyber level. Network security, meanwhile, expands beyond this scope—servicing numerous network asset types at once. It revolves around servers to study incoming and outgoing traffic—a common approach to sufficient threat identification. It also works with the devices which drive the network, such as routers.
Network security professionals also tend to keep an eye out for potential mobile and tablet exploits throughout the industry. Often teaming up with Information Security teams, Network Security workers are widely praised for their incredible ability to navigate most devices. Much like platform security workers, network security workers maintain a healthy grasp of the latest tech tools.
It’s sometimes said that network security is a subset of cybersecurity. Even though its scope is a little wider, it still serves to protect vital data assets—but it relies on specialized cybersecurity experts for expertise in the area.
In the same way, it could be said that cybersecurity is a subset of information security. Remember: Cybersecurity involves the storage, protection, and overall safety of data stored within digital spaces. Herein exists its limits in scope. Information security, on the other hand, focuses on data protection both in online and offline environments.
This isn’t to say that information security spreads itself too thin to conduct specialized tasks. The opposite tends to be true in most cases. Its incredible flexibility within optimized networks allows it to access physical data storage assets.
Organizations each adhere to ICA or integrity, confidentiality, and availability standards to meet such a scope of accessibility. By unifying their business’s overall autonomy, commercial owners can better utilize information security resources to their fullest potential. In doing so, they benefit all security-minded methods on a network.
Information, of course, isn’t ever-present in a network’s digital highways—nor is it always stockpiled.
It’s often used in data analysis, and the day-to-day operations businesses rely upon to conduct services. Understandably, programs are recognizable as vehicles for their access, use, and transfer. Much like our own computers and mobile devices, commercial network applications are used continuously.
As such, they’re significant targets for theft. Malicious code, brute-force firewall attacks, and more can put a business’s internal network at risk. Because applications are fundamental tools that enact various tasks, their exploitation—and subsequent hijacking—can be devastating for a network.
Application specialists, as a result, focus on keeping these apps secure. They do so via anti-malware resources, firewalls, and innovative process trackers. Programs even slightly out of date are updated rapidly—and even restructured for higher degrees of security.
Learning Cybersecurity From Scratch
Because cyber threats are persistent and ever-adaptable, soon-to-be cybersecurity workers need to nurture the same qualities. Training is a vital component of cybersecurity workforce preparation—as it brings learners up to speed, quickly, with current states of all things tech-security related.
Training differs depending on the career path a person takes. Cybersecurity professionals work in companies of all sizes, industries of all scopes, and in networks of all complexities. There are four core career paths one can follow as a cybersecurity worker. Even at the training level, these four paths are of constant relevancy—to keep any secure environment fully optimized via intuitive placements of specialized workers.
The four main cybersecurity career paths are:
- Security Consultancy
- Security Architecture
- System Security Testing
- Information Protection
Because these four pillars of digital defense tend to cross over into neighboring specializations, training needs to be comprehensive. System security testing, for example, involves firewall stress testing—and even ethical hacking. Both of these practices fall into the realm of system security architecture, requiring a healthy degree of understanding in adjacent specializations.
As one might presume, each of these paths has similar job requirements—wherein new employees, for the most part, are already equipped with the training needed to complement the other specializations, if need be. The training itself is specific to one’s prospective responsibilities, of course, but the framework utilized to train tech workers, itself, tends to be similar.
New cybersecurity trainees might be surprised to experience this, too, because the industry’s job requirements tend to be very flexible when it comes to college education—and, to a lesser degree—cybersecurity certification. The fact of the matter is, a person’s tech-savviness and personal experiences with information technology, for cybersecurity managers, matter the most.
This freedom can be overwhelming to those who haven’t had much experience. Still, it ultimately allows for a higher degree of workplace skill diversity—as well as skill quality, which doesn’t ‘fall through the cracks’ created by diploma requirements.
If you’re pursuing the cybersecurity profession with a passion for defending people from cyber crimes, a penchant for absorbing information, and work discipline, you’ve likely already developed the core skills and knowledge that cybersecurity management seeks.
The cybersecurity career path does indeed have some precise requirements. Although some of these requirements can be flexible, or even interchangeable with similar qualities, other requirements tend to be standard throughout the industry. Each is skill-based, rather than certification-based—and their validity as qualifications, in a hiring manager’s eyes, comes down to years of investment.
Regardless of a person’s chosen cybersecurity career path, they absolutely must have information technology security experience. This is primarily because information technology encompasses cybersecurity services and the services conducted by local network security, application security, and data security professionals.
Database Management Experience
While not as vital as IT experience, database management tends to be a job qualification necessity across all businesses. If you’re pursuing a career as a digital architect, however, this qualification will be mandatory. Where training is considered, a person must manage system architectures designed for defense against external threats, such as malware or DDoS attacks.
While a college degree isn’t required for combatting cyberterror, a verifiable period of cybersecurity education, in most cases, is. ‘Proof’ of educational experience in cybersecurity still tends to be more flexible than the needs of other industries, undoubtedly. Proof in the form of skill certification is ideal. A certification via completed cybersecurity courses would be another consideration—even if this coursework wasn’t engaged within a university setting.
If pursuing traditional education, a bachelor’s degree in Cybersecurity, Information Technology Computer Science is ideal. As a rule of thumb: A bachelor’s can typically be substituted with three to five years of hands-on experience.
A college degree isn’t necessary to secure a cybersecurity position—but it certainly helps. In some cases, it’s also possible to engage in coursework without being enrolled in any given college. In these cases, proof of having completed such a course—especially if they strictly adhere to collegiate standards—can significantly help.
Cybersecurity Training Courses
Most, if not all, of these external courses are offered in university settings. For most, official training begins soon after university education ends. Fresh with the know-how about system protection, vulnerability tests, system audits, and general network maintenance, recent graduates often liken the business training process to a natural ‘extension’ of college coursework.
As for the university coursework itself, those who pursue the path of Security Architect will engage coursework in the following areas:
- Information Systems Security
- Ethical Hacking
- CompTIA Security+
- General Digital Security Architecture
As for those pursuing the professional career path of Security Consultant, they can look forward to:
- Security Analysis
- Ethical Hacking
- Information Systems Security
- Security Management
- Security Auditing
- CompTIA Security+
It should be noted that each of the four core career paths takes up Ethical Hacking as part of their college-level education.
The coursework engaged by those intending to be an Ethical Hacker in the future includes:
- Security Analysis
- Information Systems Security
- CompTIA Security+
Finally, students pursuing a career as an Information Security Officer can expect to engage the following coursework:
- Information Security Management
- Information Systems Auditing
- Advanced Management Training
Cybersecurity Hands-On Training
As one of the first official training engagements for some, cybersecurity bootcamps are considered to be the fastest options to get cybersecurity training certification. They’re updated every year to offer relevant, practical lessons about preventing cyber crime. Their awarded certifications are also updated each year—serving as one of the best certifications a cyber-enthusiast can have when applying for jobs.
This is because cybersecurity bootcamps offer more hands-on experiences than college courses. Bootcamp lessons also directly engage the security industry, exploring everything from web app data to day-to-day security system administration schedules. Because their training curriculum revolves around the industry’s most up-to-date techniques, they provide some of the best practices business cybersecurity education offers.
Cybersecurity Awareness as a New Professional
Eventually, those who persist in their cybersecurity training face genuine threats attempting to breach corporate architectures, sensitive accounts, and even personal computers. Because many defensive innovations have been introduced in recent years, however, it’s certainly possible to stay both informed and safe—even when close to existing resources designed for system destruction and theft.
Even though advanced persistent threats have the potential to deconstruct highly secure system architectures, knowing the likelihood of an advanced cyber threat’s attack, in any given situation, can make all the difference. Unfortunately, most PC owners who’ve fallen victim to nefarious cyber-schemes weren’t assaulted with high-capacity digital tools. The National Institute of Standards of Technology (NIST) is a great place to learn more about these tools, to foster the skills needed to both avoid and disarm them.
Cybersecurity training for employees also tends to cover threat deterrence, but these practices aren’t accessible to regular computer owners. A majority of cyber threat victims fail to follow the general guidelines of Internet security. In most cases, unknown links are shared without concern for one’s safety. In other cases, users who had left their social media accounts logged in while visiting local Wi-Fi hotspot cases attempt to recover their PC’s lost security before it’s too late.
The Main Faces of Cyber Attacks
Even if one person is well-read in day-to-day network security standards, some cyber attacks are simply too strong to avoid. It’s important to know that some cyber threats can be broken up into smaller, yet individual parts. No cyber attack is the same—and no digital threat should leave consideration when it comes to safety.
Hacking is an old term—one used quite often. Its usage as an identifier for most cyber threats isn’t unwarranted. The word ‘hacking’ is intended for widespread, casual usage to define evil actions against others. Specifically, hacking is the act of targeting, exploiting, or otherwise damaging a system’s digital defenses, stealing, or even destroying a victim’s valuable, private data.
Hacking takes many forms—and each is nearly limitless in design customization. For instance, a data thief might employ their own malware creation in an area predefined for its lack of security. And the malware’s customization, in this hypothetical, could be designed with event triggers. Then, the result is a malicious tool of theft that hides its existence from most users—one which only attacks after a ‘hibernation state.’
As a form of hacking, phishing attempts to trick its attempted victims into providing their valuable information directly. This is possible because the cyber criminal utilizing phishing techniques masquerades as a trustworthy party—like a financial provider, a healthcare professional, or an insurance agent. The method of phishing, itself, is ultimately decided by the conversation medium both parties communicate in: email, more often than not.
By pretending to be someone else, the hacker attempts to trick the email recipient into clicking a provided link. While this link is presented as a valid link to one’s account page, a website homepage, or some similar, trustworthy Internet portal, it is entirely fraudulent. When clicked, it redirects the victim to a fake website that looks like the intended destination. The website’s login field serves to collect the user’s account information—and the forum’s other sections may additionally download harmful files onto the individual’s computer.
When hidden effectively, and when accessed, the above-mentioned malicious script can track users’ online whereabouts via cookies. An XSS hacker can usually even gain access to a user’s geolocation with these services.
Known as ‘domain name spoofing,’ DNS spoofing redirects Internet users to fraudulent websites—such as the fake websites a phisher might redirect a user to. While some websites are entirely fraudulent and controlled by hackers, others are simply low-security locations that allow access to harmful scripts.
In most cases, the fake website serves to collect a user’s information from login forms. Even so, most impersonating websites simply track a user once they’ve left the page. Because most Internet users utilize the same password across many websites, a hacker monitoring a user may be able to identify their credentials if used on an entirely separate website.
As one of the most common forms of hacking, malware stands for ‘malicious software.’ Because malware is a blanket identifier, it’s often categorized into several sections. Primarily, this is done by examining how it spread across a user’s system. Even though viruses and trojans travel across a network in different ways, both still exist as malware due to their design, which targets the victim’s valuable information. Because of this, malware detection isn’t easy, and risk management procedures that focus on malware aren’t always effective.
Where virus malware is considered, a piece of computer code is injected with malicious code created by the attacker. When injected into a program, this code can force said program to conduct actions against its user. Because a network’s applications can have the most direct impact upon a system at large, this type of malware can wreak widespread damage in relatively little time.
Malware, in most cases, reproduces itself across a user’s computer. When infected, other programs may even hide the malware from the site—as they’re used as ‘hosts’ for the dangerous script. Once activated, a malware-containing program might spread the script even further—allowing it to ‘spy’ on the user’s behavior in the form of spyware. A location’s general data protection regulation, for this reason, might require comprehensive cybersecurity training experience as a job prerequisite.
Fostering High-Value Skills
Through continuous monitoring and effective cybersecurity management, jobs with cybersecurity significantly reduce the number of cyber attack cases. By finding jobs for cybersecurity through a period of cybersecurity training, you’ll gain access to the field’s best practices. Whether you have a cybersecurity degree or simply have experience with security programs, your skills can still earn a high salary for cybersecurity.
Learning the cybersecurity framework of any business takes time, but there are plenty of training options available in the cybersecurity workforce. While some locations might offer cybersecurity training for veterans, others might be immediately available to those conducting ‘cybersecurity training near me’ searches or even focus on teleworking programs. The cybersecurity training cost tends to differ from location to location, but most programs are affordable to those with baseline experience.
If you’re ready to engage the workforce as part of a cybersecurity association, you can start by further exploring the different career fields. Even though each area impacts those around it, specializing in specific cyber attack countermeasures will assist your training by guiding your path. The cybersecurity field has numerous options available, but a keen approach to education makes all the difference.
You can begin training with active industry experts with our Cybersecurity Professional Bootcamp. In less than one year, you can be ready to take the industry’s highly sought-after certifications and receive career coaching to improve your visibility with hiring managers. Schedule your call today with our admissions team to learn about our upcoming class start dates.