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Building a career in Network Security
must thank you for your works. I have these questions for you because I
see in you the desire to encourage, and empower people in information
I want to become a network
security expert. What are the career opportunities? I have a diploma in
computer science. Should I invest in certification? Or should I go back
to school for my degree program and then go for certification. Please I
need your advice. Is there any shortcut for my desire? Some times I feel
I am not as focused as I should be. Please I need your advise on what to
Thanks for your mail and kind
Career issues may be resolved
faster through our site as many career questions have already been
treated and published online (IT
And in addition, because of our other commitments, we present the
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IT Career Seminar)
to address such issues.
Let me start by saying that a
career in network security requires lifelong commitment and interest. A
lot depends on your interests and career ambitions. Forget about
shortcuts and passwords. Protecting networks and information is serious
business. What does network security mean to you?
Today the computer is the
network. Computer networks are used every day to conduct transactions
and communications in all spheres of life - social, educational and
commercial. Hackers, spam, hostile software, online attacks, worms and
identity theft are just a few of the dangers encountered as we exploit
Internet and web based opportunities. More "power" in the
hands of the bad guys, has moved security to the front burner. There has
never been a greater need to secure data that is accessible on network
systems. Information security has become a major concern for all.
Information security is no joke. It is serious business.
Network security career
Increased computer attacks and
subsequent losses have heightened the demand for network security
professionals. Interestingly this challenge is also an opportunity -
opportunity to enter the network security arena. As organizations of all
types aim for better competitive edge in the digital world, they are
bound to invest in more computer and network infrastructure. Nobody
wants to become a dinosaur, but who will secure these network systems?
There is a need for trusted professionals that can provide network
security value and solutions.
And as in any other field, there
are those who are in the network security to make positive contributions
and there are others who are there to make some fast money. You need to
be clear on your motives. Network security is rewarding, but shortcuts
will not work in a field as intense as network security.
What does a network security
The role of the network security
professional is to use knowledge and skills to protect consumers,
businesses, government agencies, and the society. The network security
professional identifies all types of threats (internal, external,
intentional and unintentional) and works to stop them. The professional
performs by effectively applying networking and security expertise.
It follows that to get into
network security, you must equip yourself with knowledge and skills in
networking fundamentals and security basics.
A person responsible for building
network security, and protecting a network requires solid networking
knowledge. Start by mastering the fundamentals of Networking. Focus
first on building your Networking expertise - fundamental networking
skills and knowledge (Network
Security Capacity Development).
Have a good grounding in the fundamentals - knowledge, skills and
experience - Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs),
network gear and remote equipment. It also helps to have a good
foundation in tech support.
With a foundation in tech Support
/ Networking - hardware and software, you can then proceed to build on
that with security experience by developing your security skills and
You must have knowledge about
threats to network security and how to combat them. How can you keep out
the bad guys and help secure networks. Such threats include worms, unauthorized access, e-mail attacks,
malicious code viruses, availability issues, network vulnerabilities and
social engineering. The technical aspects of network security, includes
designing, configuring, and installing security tools.
Security professionals need to
have a good grasp of encryption technologies, authentication, network
security tools, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, virtual private
networks, identity services, security management, as well as key
information security principles and concepts.
Certifications and academic
education programs are the most popular options for acquiring the
knowledge you need. But consider don't certification and degrees
purely as alternatives. They are best used to complement each other.
A degree program in
computer science, electrical and electronic engineering or similar
fields of study is a good starting point when using the formal education
academic option. In such a discipline, always look for opportunities to
choose network and security electives.
Certification always helps in the Networking/Security sphere. Certifications focus more on specific skills in a particular area. Such skills are usually required and valued by industry. Training, books and practice tests are some of available certification preparation options. Internationally recognized network recognized standards include:
certifications you should consider are: Security+, MCSE+Security, Cisco
Certified Security Professional (CCSP), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP),
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). Learn more about security
certifications here: http://www.jidaw.com/certarticles/securitycerts.html
The certifications are all
valuable but each has its own target audience. Focus on your situation
and your need.
As a newcomer I will suggest that
you don't aim to high as a start. Always match your certification with
your level of experience. I suggest using the knowledge / certification
"ladder" approach. Start with foundational certifications and
follow-up with higher-level certifications as you acquire network and
Certification and degrees are both valid routes for acquiring IT education. Your need and
situation should determine the route you will take. However, if you have
the opportunity, it is often better to start off with your degree
program. Degrees give you a broader outlook and background. And this
always pays off eventually, especially as you progress in your career.
Build your career by investing in
a working combination of these career options - training - experience -
degree program - certification - knowledge resources (books, Internet).
For example, you can start your
degree program and then add certifications to equip you with industry
needs and give you the edge for future opportunity as you progress. In
many areas of IT, quite a few students in university have already
realized the importance of this combination by investing in
certifications before they graduate. But I must emphasize that these are
just suggestions - your need and situation are paramount in what you do.
Other education - ethics,
In addition to networking and
security knowledge, I would suggest that you develop an interest in
learning about cybercrime, investigations, ethics, computer crime laws,
privacy, legal liability and other non-tech issues that are critical
subjects within information security. It's not just about tech
know-how. The security professional should have a good grasp of the
issues involved. For example, to stop the attackers, it certainly helps
to think like an attacker.
Note that education alone is not
enough to build a career in network security. Regardless of your
background, people who move into network security benefit tremendously
from real-life working experience. You simply must practice what you
have learnt. As you pursue education through your degree and
certification programs, always look for work experience opportunities.
Your education works better for you if complemented with hands-on system
and network experience that helps you reinforce and focus your interests
and learning much more effectively.
Beginners in particular should
look for entry-level system or networking positions or internships - in
cybercafes, ISPS, etc. Be ready to start from the basics and work your
way up. Such opportunities can provide a solid foundation into network
Don't be reward-focused but be
more contribution and learning (practice) focused. Always look for such
opportunities as you develop your career. Your interest should be in
increasing your value rather than your cost - value to clients,
employers, colleagues, and to yourself.
You can also build a home
laboratory for learning key skills and for more experience. Many
commonly used technologies are easily available on the Internet as
freeware or shareware. Practice gives you a better understanding of the
theories and features of such security technologies.
Soft skills (http://www.jidaw.com/certarticles/softskills1.html)
For career growth, your
professional attitude and soft skills (ability to market yourself,
communications skills, presentation skills, business knowledge,
leadership, etc) are also important. Education deals strictly will
technical knowledge and skills. Start now especially to develop your
communications (written and verbal) skills, as it will be part of your
responsibility to communicate regularly with the other people
(colleagues, business managers, customers, vendors, IT staff, company
You will need such skills not
only to get opportunity, but also to progress. For example as a network
security professional, you may need to make presentations to management
and colleagues. You've got the job - do you want to grow? It is
essential to build such skills now. Furthermore such skills are critical
for network security management (planning, developing and supervision).
In fact expertise with a soft skills background such as project
management or other administrative capability is required for senior positions in
Information and network security
requires an enthusiasm for lifelong learning and a lifetime commitment
to information technology. The rapid rate of change in technology and
security means nobody can afford to be "mister-know-it-all". Keep sharp.
Keep up-to-date and sharp. Don't get complacent. Earning your security
certification isn't enough. Monitor trends and attend forums
that provide you with what you need to comprehend the threats and secure
the networked systems of today and tomorrow. Information security is a
continual learning process.
The network security position is
a hot seat that carries huge responsibility. Ethics and professionalism
can't be compromised. Degrees and certification are great but
trustworthiness must be in the equation. Can you be trusted, what is
your record like when it comes to integrity?
Do something NOW
Look at your situation and have a
- know where you are, know where you're going, know what to do. Can you
appreciate the breadth of issues and technologies that network security
professionals must address? It requires skills and dedication. And it's
hard work. Who said it would be easy? Dig deep and look on the bright
side - network and information security is an area with present and
foreseeable demand - it is rewarding and satisfying work.
What I have presented are
suggestions and information that should assist in your decision-making.
When dealing with career issues, there is no formula and a lot depends
on the individual in terms of attitude, ability and career focus.
The most important thing is that
you start doing something now - don't wait for ideal or perfect - do
something. Depending on opportunities available to you start investing
now in a meaningful combination of these career options - training -
experience - degree program - certification - knowledge resources
All the best in your IT Career!
Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com (http://www.jidaw.com)
Jidaw.com's mission is to help you build and sharpen your career focus. Time permitting, we would be glad to answer your career questions, but before sending email, please check the IT Career Resource Center first to see if perhaps your question or problem already appears there or can be solved using the resource center
better still attend the next FREE
IT Career Seminar..
What Do you Have to Say? Post Your Comments about this content resource Here.
Mar 26, 2008
Olaniyi from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State says:
Wow, this is what have been waiting for
- Informative, educative and interesting. I love the article
keep it up.
Thanks and thanks!
Mar 26, 2006
A. Aliyu from Abuja says:
So comprehensive and informative. I must seize this opportunity in network security.
Mar 28, 2006
Og from Lagos says:
Good summary for infosec enthusiasts. Computer Sc, Information Systems fresh graduates should read this. Security transcends technology.
April 20, 2006
Oladele Tunde from Ibadan says:
Wonderful! This is information i had been waiting for for years on network security.
DISRUPT THE STATUS QUO!
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But what are you still doing in your comfort zone? The comfort zone is a dangerous place.
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