In this tutorial I'm gonna take you through the top 5 skills you need to be learning to get into cyber security.
If you're new to the field or looking for a career transition, there's just so much info out there, that it's hard to even get started. You might hear people talk about alphabet soup of certifications to take like CEH, SEC+, NET+, CISM, CISSP, CASP, CCSP, SSCP, OSCP/E, GSEC, APT and many more, but I'm here to tell you that they're not important. While there's some value going through the process of studying for certs, what is important are your skills and experience. Because in this field, what you can do will make you much more successful than what you know. Solving technical problems is the way to earning the trust and confidence from people you work with. Buckle up and let's dive right in.
Number 1: Building and using virtual machines
Virtual machines, also called VMs, are operating systems that run on top of your existing or "host" OS. The virtualized OS is commonly referred to as a "guest", and is managed by software called the hypervisor. The hypervisor lets you manage and allocate resources like CPU, Memory, and Disk space on your guest. Popular hypervisors you may have heared of include Hyper-V by Microsoft, Virtual-box by Oracle, VMware, and KVM. Often times when you hear the term "cloud" it usually means thousands of VM's running on specialized hypervisors on someone else's server farm in a data-center somewhere.
Virtual machines let you become platform-agnostic, meaning you're no longer limited to any particular operating system and tools available for it. Many people spend all their time just on one OS and debate which ones are better.
let me tell you: "IT DOESN'T MATTER". As a pro you should be versed in all of them and comfortable working on any platform. This maximizes the scope of your skills and makes you effective in any situation.
Virtual Machines also gives you the flexibility to train and research in an isolated environment without affecting your main driver. You can quickly take snapshots of a guest OS and restore it to an earlier state. Opening a suspect file you received? Use a VM. Want to practice configuring a server? Use a VM. Slinging exploits at a target? Use a VM. Now, moving on to,
Number 2: Command Line
Don't run away but embrace it. The command line interface, commonly referred to as a SHELL, is the simplest and arguably the most efficient way to interact with an operating system.
For example: if I'm looking for an entry in a CSV file, Excel might freeze or crash. Running a lightweight shell command gets me what i need in no time. why's it called a shell? The important part of an OS that actually makes it run is called the KERNEL, because it functions at the center of the system. The part that's exposed to a user is called the shell, since it wraps around the kernel. It's just like a car, where the steering wheel, pedals, and the dashboards giving you control over the engine or transmission all exist in the "shell" of the car.
The command line gives you the lowest level access to software functionality that comes with an operating system. Many of the most useful tools don't have a graphical interface (GUI) to point and click. Mastering the command line expands your arsenal and lets you get more one with less. It lets you be able to use scripting and automation to tackle repetitive tasks that would otherwise waste lots of time.
Automating your workflow by learning the command line makes you tremendously valuable asset to the team. I recommend starting out with Bash, or the "Bourne-again Shell" since it comes default with almost every Linux distribution. macOS used it in its terminal app, but has since changed to Zsh, or "Z-Shell", and has some nicer features. If bash is like a Toyota the Zsh is more like a Lexus.
Bash is so popular and effective that Microsoft actually released the Windows Subsystem for Linux, or "WSL" which lets you install several different Linux flavors to use Bash as a native app. This is super convenient, since I can access most of my Linux tools without having to switch to a virtual machine.
Now understand that Power-shell is actually the go-to-native shell for Windows. It's very different from how you would use the Linux command line, but gives you a ton of powerful Windows administration abilities. If you work in an environment where Windows is the primary OS, definitely learn Power-shell as well. I'm gonna start a series on the Linux command line very soon. Drop a mail at "[email protected]" to let me know what tools and concepts you'd like to learn!
Number 3: System Administration
All of us with a computer or smart phone, from your grandma to IT wizard is really a System Administrator at some level. It all depends on what level you're at.
System Administration involves the configuring and maintaining of computers, whether it's a personal device or hi-powered server. When i started using the computer as a kid, I loved to dive down into every single setting available on the computer, just to see what it did. Reading manuals, online guides, and playing around just drove this curiosity further. By doing that, I became the family IT help desk. System Administration is about knowing your platform and various tools inside and out, to be able to help other's who don't.
Whatever your skill, I challenge you to fiddle around and learn by doing this. Delete some files, and try to recover them. Download, open, and monitor old viruses in a virtual machine with tools like Windows Sys-Internals to see what they do. Try extracting files and passwords off a computer without knowing the login info. Whatever it is, push the limits of what you already know by reading guides out there and following along. Practice a little each day and you'll level up in no time. next up is...
Number 4: Computer Networking
This is the heart and soul of it all, what i like to call it as is Cyber Security's "Law of physics".
It's understanding how devices interact with each other and how data gets from point A to point B.
A strong foundation in networking will make you a rock-star troubleshooter, whether you're red teaming, defending, or running day-to-day IT ops.
There's two conceptual models that governs computer networking: TCP/IP and OSI. They group all your different networking and telecommunication protocols into "layers".
TCP/IP is older and uses four layers: network access, internet, transport, and application layers.
OSI stands for the Open System Interconnection, which is developed by the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO.
These guys define everything from country codes to time and date formats. OSI is newer and uses seven layers: physical, data-link, network, transport, session, presentation, and application layers.
All these layers are just a way to describe "What's happening Where". So if you're receiving a package from someone in a different country, it's gonna get passed between envelopes, boxes, vehicles and planes, each with their own addressing method and operating procedures. When the post office tells you there's an airline issue, you know where it is in the transportation system that's delaying your delivery.
Likewise, the networking layers all have different functions, but as a whole work together to let you stream videos from a server in a rack to a device in your hands. Knowing what's happening at each layer lets you "see the matrix" and be much more skilled at your craft.
Number 5: Personal Digital Security
This is an area I've been particularly passionate about because it affects our families, friends, and organizations. The cyber crime industry is booming. you don't have to scroll far to see what the online black market place looks like.
As technology becomes more inter-wined with our lives, from Internet-connected cars to refrigerators , the vulnerabilities and attack vectors are gonna increase more and more. If you wanna go deep into cyber security, there's no better place to start than with yourself.
From passwords, encryption, to secure comms, stay up-to-date with latest security news and best practices. You might be the subject-matter expert in your office/college that others go to advice. And that advice might just protect your company from becoming front page news. But most importantly is living it out yourself as well!
You wouldn't believe the number of times I've seen cyber intrusions originate from the security operations or IT department simply because people didn't understand or practice basic digital hygiene.
SO that's it for today's tutorial, Thank you so much for tuning in, don't forget to share this tutorial, for more contents just like this, And if you have further questions drop a mail at "[email protected]".
See you later, Bye.