Cyber-crime is on the rise, but so is the cyber security profession. These days, employers are eager to recruit and hire professionals who will help to thwart outside attacks from black-hat hackers. If you are eager to thwart attacks via ransomware, DDoS attacks, social engineering, or a clickjacking ring, then you should start preparing now. Because the threats are constantly evolving, so are the countermeasures.
The following information is designed to give rising cyber security students the resources they need to succeed in school and then to thrive in the professional community. You should also consider bookmarking this page so that you can keep track of all of these resources. We know it's a lot to digest at once, but you can keep it handy for when you need it the most.
Resources for Cyber Security Students
To ensure that your cyber security career gets off on the right foot, you should attend the best possible cyber security program. You can choose programs with many metrics, but one of the most reliable is the program's accreditation. Accreditation is an earned credential that programs attain by undergoing rigorous auditing from an independent agency. During that process, the agency evaluates the program's curriculum, faculty, student performance rates, and more.For cyber security, you will certainly want to ascertain that they have regional accreditation. That's a bare minimum standard. Your more advanced programs will be certified by ABET or be recognized as one of the National Centers of Academic Excellence by the Department of Homeland Security. When a program has credentials from one or both of those agencies, you can be assured that your education will lead to great things. Further, if you are currently working and wish to participate in your employer's tuition reimbursement program, they are likely to require you to attend a fully accredited course of study.
Questions About Financial Aid
When you are accepted to a college or university, you will need to determine exactly how to pay for that education. A few students will be able to procure full payments from their families, but most will need to explore the financial aid options available to students. For this majority of students, the first and best option is to attain a general scholarship or a computer science scholarship. This is virtually free money that you never need to repay. The applications are often time-consuming but, even if the purse seems small, remember that you needn't ever pay a dime of interest on that money.
College federal grants are also an option. While they generally can function like scholarships, many come with certain rules that require a certain type of repayment. That is, they might pay for most of your tuition, but you'll have to work for a certain number of years in order to satisfy the agreement. As long as you work in a satisfactory position for the agreed-upon time frame, you will never have to pay a dime for your education. Sometimes state or local governments will offer these grants in order to attract top talent to work in their agencies. The federal government currently has a similar plan whereby you can work off your loan, provided you work for an appropriate agency, non-profit, or other government body.
Finally, most students will find that they need loans to cover at least some of the remaining costs surrounding college. You should seek out federal loans, the Stafford Loan or Sallie Mae loans first, as they have more favorable interest rates and repayment plans. If you happen to exceed the maximum allowed loan amount, you can resort to private lenders. However, you may want to avoid this, as private lenders can't offer the same low interest rates that federal lenders can.
Associations for Students
As a student of cyber security, you will want to begin associating with professionals in your field. Most associations offer a special student rate and provide many great resources in return. You might receive newsletters, online magazines, and print magazines. Then, you can access educational materials in the form of webinars and full online courses, if you have time for one more. Associations also provide scholarships and the opportunity to attend a national conference. After graduation, many associations support career building tools such as job boards, internships, and mentoring.
- National Cyber Security Student Association:
The NCSA helps to foster a growing cyber security community at the student level. They offer loads of opportunities including mentoring, extracurricular activities, and up-to-the-minute information resources.
- Information Systems Security Association International:
If you start your ISSA membership as a student it can become a part of your career for a lifetime. They offer loads of certifications and conferences.
- WiCyS - Women In Cyber Security:
Women pioneered much of high technology but now they're on the sidelines. The WiCys is trying to change that by forming a community of women dedicated to thwarting cyber-crime.
- Control System Cyber Security Association International:
With over 17,000 members, you are sure to find a fantastic network of friendly colleagues. As a student you'll love the free webinars, newsletter, and resource library, among other phenomenal perks.
The IEEE sponsors over 1,900 events worldwide so, if you're enjoying remote work or a study abroad program, you can find fellow cyber security students or professionals. The networking potential here is incredible.
Student or Open Access Journals
Professional journals are one of the best ways to stay on top of your field. Those periodicals are full of the latest research and opinion pieces from industry leaders. This may be even more vital in a high-tech field such as cyber security, because technologies often shift so dramatically. Furthermore, for every cyber security measure we take there are untold cyber-criminals seeking ways to thwart it. When you make it a regular practice to peruse industry journals, you will only sharpen your approach to the field. You might even discover fascinating topics that you might pursue in an independent study course or as an essay topic.
Cyber Security Study Resources
Cyber security is a growing and rapidly evolving field. When you augment your classroom work with outside sources, you can only benefit. The internet is full of resources created by and for top technology experts. You can explore these resources as an addition to your computer science classwork or to help you study. You can use them to help solidify your comprehension of specific topics or to introduce yourself to concepts that you might face in an upcoming semester. Since many of them are free, you really have nothing to lose. Even those that charge require only a nominal payment that most students can afford.
- Cyber Security Full Course for a Beginner:
If you're waiting to start a cyber security program and can't wait to start learning, this is a great first stop on YouTube.
- MIT Cybersecurity Lectures:
It's rather amazing that MIT offers these phenomenal resources for free. Build on your knowledge by attending these virtual lectures.
- Introduction to Cryptography:
This is a tough subject, so this video will help get you up to speed.
This online educational resource is packed with coding classes and specialized cyber security courses, as well. They are priced right and you'll be able to refer back to the materials forever.
- Linux Academy:
This is another affordable resource for cyber security students and professionals. You can earn certifications through them or study on an ad-hoc basis. Take one of these courses on a winter break and take your learning to the next level.
- Glossary of Common Cybersecurity Terms:
This is sure to be a frequent stop as you dig deeper into your studies. Keep this page bookmarked for easy access.
- CSO Online:
Stay up-to-date on current trends in your field by reading CSO on a regular basis. You just might find an article that perfectly dovetails with your studies.
- Cybersecurity Hot Topics:
More specialized cyber security news that will keep you abreast of the latest attacks, investigations, and exam prep materials.
- CISSP Glossary:
Even if you're not going for your CISSP certificate just yet, this resource can help you grasp the most difficult concepts in cyber security.
Apps are part of everybody's everyday experience. Students are no exception. However, rather than filling your phone with games, you can use that tool to help you organize your studies and even gain new skills. You can watch informative lectures on YouTube or download specialized apps to help you brush up on a new computer language.
You will also need a platform that is designed to help you write code. Some even have autofill options that will insert the necessary parentheses, semicolons, etc. that so many coders would rather not deal with, and which are often a cause of trouble. There are many coding tools and you'll surely need at least one. Thankfully there are many free, open-source packages for coders.
- SoloLearn – Learn to Code:
Need to brush up or learn a whole new coding language? SoloLearn has some great options for your mobile device.
- Code Hub:
This is a great resource if you need to brush up on your CSS and HTML. Even if your work is more involved with deep code and terminal apps, you may someday need to set up a website.
- Office Lens:
Ever wish you could capture your professor's whiteboard notes? This app lets you take a picture and convert it to a readable pdf.
Stay organized with this helpful app. To make the most of it, enter all your assignments from every class on the first day. That way, you can set notifications for when you should start researching that all-important term paper.
- Google Calendar:
This app is an old standby, for sure. When you start taking advantage of the calendar sharing features, labels, notifications, and invitations this app comes to life.
- Eclipse IDE:
This Integrated Development Environment is perfect when you need to work on a Java project. It's free and open source, so there's no reason not to give it a whirl.
- Geany IDE:
This lightweight Integrated Development Environment is great for a variety of project types including those that require Java, C, PHP, HTML, Python, or Perl, among others. Did we mention that this one is free?
You can learn a lot in the classroom, through lab experiments and other projects. However, nothing can replace a real-world immersion in cyber security. A cyber security internship will provide much in terms of knowledge, experience, and networking. Since cyber security is such a hot topic you are sure to find many experiential learning opportunities in your local area, but there are also internships available from government and corporate bodies who are eager to nurture a wave of top professionals.
To prepare for an internship you might do something like create short seminars for your fellow students. Non-computer science majors need your insights and knowledge regarding how to create impenetrable passwords and how to assess their own vulnerability. If the seminars are a success, you could even monetize the program by sharing your knowledge with local businesses. If you take the initiative in this way, you are sure to attract positive attention from hiring managers.
Resources for Students and Professionals
Cyber Security Certification Options
After you achieve your degree, your learning and achieving is far from over. You'll likely need to attain one or more certifications over the course of your career. These show that you have specific knowledge in particular areas. For instance, you could become certified as an Ethical Hacker or a Penetration Tester, which would open up certain job opportunities. Note that, once you pass the initial examination, you'll need to continue taking CEU courses to keep your certificate current.
These certifications are not easy to attain. Most require rigorous coursework that leads up to a very difficult examination. To even qualify to sit for some of the examinations you need to show a significant tenure in the industry as well as other qualifications, perhaps including a master’s degree.
When you decide to return to graduate school, your application will benefit from one or more certifications. That will show the admissions representative that you have not only done great work for your employers but that you have taken the initiative to become a lifelong learner and leader. For your part, you will surely have an easier time in grad school if you are already accustomed to attaining and maintaining your certificate(s).
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional
(CISSP) from (ISC)2
- Certified Information Security Manager
(CISM) from ISACA
- Certified Ethical Hacker
(CEH) from EC-Council
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control
(CRISC) from ISACA
- Certified Cloud Security Professional
(CCSP) from (ISC)2
Certification Study Resources
Certification exams are no walk in the park and you want to make sure that you pass them the first time around. Thus, it's wise to seek out study materials in advance of the test. If you have local colleagues who are seeking the same certificate, you could collaborate using some of the tools listed below. Keep in mind that the certifying agency or association has a vested interest in your passing the exam, so they will often provide abundant resources to help you brush up and be ready for success.
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control:
- Certified Cloud Security Professional:
Kaplan Study Package
- Certified Ethical Hacker:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional:
Temp Agencies / Remote Work
As a fresh graduate, you might feel a bit intimidated by the job market and find that it takes longer to find a full-time job than you thought. One way to get your toes wet and gain valuable experience is by taking temporary positions. With your basic skills in computer science you can surely land short-term employment in IT departments. When there, you can begin to investigate a firm's need for a cyber security expert such as yourself. In the meantime, you can easily schedule time for interviews or job fairs.
Temporary work allows you to start making money in your field while also testing out the environments you find most conducive to your particular working style. Since your undergraduate degree most likely has set you up with great general knowledge, you can take on a variety of entry-level positions. This sort of temporary and contract-based work can even become a feature of your career.
That is, once you gain significant experience and cyber security certificates you might start looking for remote and project-related work. This way, you can start working from home, or wherever you like. Many high-tech professionals who take these jobs are able to travel all around the country and even the world while conducting work via their laptops.
Resources for Cyber Security Professionals
To keep your professional life fresh and developing, it's vital to join a professional association. Membership will provide many benefits including access to educational resources, conferences, job boards, certifications, and more. Even if you aren't terribly active, you will surely appreciate the regular newsletters and, when you list membership on your resume, hiring managers will be more interested in your abilities.
These associations often provide free or affordable webinars, journals, and courses that might even lead to valuable professional certifications. In the cyber security field, you really need to be constantly learning, because technology and cyber threats are continuing to evolve at a rapid pace. Thus, simply reading an association's cyber security journal on a regular basis should be considered a bare minimum for staying current with your profession. Furthermore, membership often opens up opportunities for leadership positions, which will put you at the top of your profession.
Cyber security is far from a static field. The white-hat and black-hat hackers are at each other's throats on a daily basis. New tricks and tools are constantly in development, so it's vital to remain on top of your industry's changes and evolution. The best way to do that is by subscribing to one or more cyber security journals or other periodicals. If you commute by train or bus, you can make the most of that time by reading up on current events or the latest technology. Since most journals are sure to be available in an electronic format, you can load them all onto a tablet or other e-reader for easy access.
Industry Conferences for Cyber Security Professionals
If you want to boost your learning, there's no substitute for a cyber security conference. Over the course of a weekend, you will pack in more learning, networking, and professional fellowship than you do in a typical year. While that may feel like an exaggeration, the workshops, panel discussions, and keynote speakers are sure to be enlightening and invigorating for your career. Plus, many cyber security conferences provide opportunities to earn valuable CEUs to help keep your credentials current. Here is a brief list of conferences to pick from.
- InfoSec World:
This conference attracts top keynote speakers from the CIA, Cisco Systems, ICIT, and more. The Expo will feature top vendors but also fun games and other cyber security activities.
- Blacks in Cybersecurity Winter Summit:
Meet and greet fellow, black cyber security professionals at this annual conference. In addition to the networking and comraderie, you will advance your knowledge and insights many-fold.
FutureCon hosts conferences all over the nation. There may be one near you, but then you might find that another event addresses more of the specific topics that matter to your cyber security work.
- Data Connectors Chicago Tech-Security:
You can attend the Chicago conference, but be aware that Data Connectors puts on events all over North America. You can find one close to you or determine which is the most worth traveling for.
- WiCyS Annual Conference:
Women of Cyber Security unite! This conference is a must-attend for all women in the field. The networking and camaraderie alone will make it worth your time.
- ISACA Conferences:
Pick the ISACA conference that will mean the most to you and your team. Many of their events provide valuable CEU hours, which makes the travel and time off all the more worthwhile.
- (ISC)2 Security Congress:
This conference provides as much as 28 CPEs and you can take 2-day courses prior to the event and take that number even higher. Since this conference attracts attendees from around the world, you can't afford to miss out on the networking and fellowship opportunities.