6 Ways To Learn New Infosec Skills
Staying up-to-date with the latest threats and techniques as well as how to counter them is a challenge for all security professionals. To help boost your efforts with what is a steep learning curve, here are 6 ways to advance your skills — and stimulate your career at the same time.
1. Read a good ol’ book
Because you can read them while you’re commuting to work or before you fall asleep, reading books is a great way to make the most of your valuable time. Or better yet, put down the video game controller, stop binge-watching the latest shows and get to work! Reading will allow you to learn the basics, methodologies, and techniques of whatever topics that you feel you need to push your career forward. Here are some books of varying levels that you can start to read this new year:
- Hacking for Dummies
- Cracking Codes with Python
- The Hacker’s Playbook
- Malware Data Science: Attack Detection and Attribution
- The Science of Human Hacking
- Investigating Cryptocurrencies: Understanding, Extracting, and Analyzing Blockchain Evidence
- Network Security Through Data Analysis: From Data to Action
- Hacking the Hacker: Learn From the Experts Who Take Down Hackers
- Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker
Helpful hint! Although there’s nothing like the feel of an actual, physical book, reading electronic copies of books has many advantages for the life-long learner. Highlighting text of a word, phrase or idea that is unfamiliar, allows you to make notes or search for more information before continuing. This is especially helpful when learning an entirely new skill and getting the foundational concepts solidified in your head. And, of course, it’s great on your back not having to lug huge volumes everywhere you go. It’s especially handy for reference materials that you won’t need every day.
2. Find a mentor
Seeking a mentor can be an extremely effective strategic career move.
There’s nothing better than learning by doing, but you will get stuck. And there’s only so much time to try harder when facing a real-world crisis, especially when no amount of trial-and-error or searching is getting you the solutions you need. That’s why having an expert to lean on is one of the best ways to quickly learn new skills. No one can be an expert in everything, so having multiple mentors is incredibly helpful.
But don’t be greedy with their time and always remember to help in return either directly or by paying it forward.
Not only can mentors help you acquire new technical skills, but they can also assist with soft skills such as identifying your strengths and weaknesses, how to better communicate and what pitfalls you might face when advancing your career. According to John White, here’s how to seek out a good mentor.
3. Attend security conferences
Security conferences are another great way to learn new skills, because you can not only attend keynote speeches to discover new topics but also participate in CTF challenges and training of all sorts. One great thing to do at conferences is networking with other professionals. That way, you’ll get an idea about what other career paths and jobs are like, and get a clearer view of what can work for you, too.
To know more about the wide range of security conferences 2019 has in store around the world, check out The Ethical Hacker Network’s Global Calendar of Security Events.
4. Network with other professionals
By networking with other professionals, you will discover new areas of security, techniques, skills or career paths available to take your own career to the next level. This is not just at conferences or online via LinkedIn but also at local meetups or online communities.
Another untapped resource could be the very company for which you already work. If it’s a large organization, there might just be email lists or slack channels of like-minded professionals that you would never meet otherwise.
Who knows? You might even meet your future employer or business partner. 😉
5. Make good use of free resources
In an industry as tactical as cybersecurity, practical skills are a MUST. Many online tools are available for you to test and practice your skills at no cost to you! Here are a few examples:
Another proven way to build your skillset and get more confidence for free is by hunting for vulnerabilities and bugs on dedicated platforms, such as Bugcrowd. You’ve got nothing to lose, everything to win. Interested? Here’s how to get started with bug bounties.
6. Enroll in practical training courses
Finally, the most complete way to learn new skills and acquire real-life security know-how is by enrolling in an online training course. Online training courses are such good options because they allow you to learn at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home. Here’s what to look for in an online training course:
- Non-expiry or lifetime access to course materials
- Mobile-Accessible materials for studying on the go
- Up-to-date study materials (in terms of what is taught and techniques used)
- Highly practical training, with numerous virtual labs, preferably based on real-life scenarios
- Different formats of training materials (slides, videos, labs, etc.)
- Availability of practical certification, to prove your skills
To help security professionals stay up-to-date with the latest cyber threats and techniques to defend against them, numerous books, security conferences, free online resources, and practical training courses are at your disposal. Whatever options best fit you, be sure to remember that consistent practice and determination will always be the best path to success. For this reason, it shouldn’t just be your resolution for 2019, but rather make it your personal mission this year and beyond to take advantage of these opportunities. Good luck!
Aspiring to advance your InfoSec career? Have a look at our various red team and blue team training courses, or combine them for the best that purple-teaming can do for your resume.
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