Cybersecurity is complex, especially as cybercriminals continue to evolve their forms of attack, but how long does it take to learn cybersecurity for people and businesses that need it to stay secure?
Starting from scratch can be a long process full of learning, questions, and confusion as you sift through the tools, programs, software, equipment, best practices, trends, and instinctual aspects of cyber that only come from experience.
Read on to learn more about how long it takes to become a cyber savant and explore some resources you can use to get there.
Building an Expertise in Cybersecurity
Learning cybersecurity is too vague to give an absolute number. There are so many branches of cybersecurity that each requires its own expertise that, for one person, it could take decades of education and experience, and that’s only if you can somehow put a definition as to what “learning” cybersecurity even is. It’s always changing, so much, in fact, that even today’s experts must dedicate hours of time each day to learning new things.
A cybersecurity expert needs three main things: education, experience, and certifications. Those three things will grant most of the knowledge required for success in cybersecurity, including:
- What to look for when securing a business from modern threats
- The necessary tools and how to use them
- How to respond to breaches,
- How to write protocols and build security strategies
- How to audit a business’ current security standing,
- Compliance knowledge
- General best practices for strong cybersecurity
Even for experts, it may not be possible to fully understand every aspect of cybersecurity. That’s why managed security service providers (MSSPs) contain multiple teams of experts, each with a specific dedication to a certain discipline of the industry.
So, though it may take a long time to become a true expert, there are ways for anyone to start developing their knowledge base of cybersecurity terms, best practices, tools, and more.
How to Learn More About Cybersecurity
With a topic so fluid and difficult, it’s important to know how and where to find educational resources to improve your well of knowledge and, in time, to become an expert. Here are some of the main ways that security experts stay on top of it all and learn more about their industry:
Online Training Courses, Videos, and Other Resources
The internet is rife with cybersecurity training courses and training from blogs to YouTube videos to phishing training courses backed by larger cybersecurity organizations. Spending time immersed in the topics, trends, news, and best practices from these types of resources can help you get a more surface-level grasp of what makes cybersecurity tick while picking up some tricks and tips on improving your own cybersecurity posture.
But, when utilizing resources like these, it’s important to understand that anything not accredited by a university or by the government should be examined with a critical eye. Who is publishing the content and what makes them an expert worth learning from?
Be sure to do your due diligence before leaning too heavily on one channel without digging in to ensure the content is being created by actual experts in the field.
Staying Current on the News and Trends of the Industry
Reading is a noted key to success for many titans of industry who state that they read up to three hours a day to keep up on the latest buzz in their industries. This is true for cybersecurity, also, because it changes so rapidly and so often that you can quickly fall behind.
Build a list of cybersecurity resources that you trust—these can be thought leader’s social accounts, news publications, blogs from security providers, or official releases from government agencies (ex. CISA)—and check them every day, reading their articles, absorbing information, and putting it into practice during your workday.
These resources should bring you up to speed on the latest technologies, software, attack trends, large breaches, and new vulnerabilities; key information to use when improving your cybersecurity posture.
Certifications and Degrees
For something more official, you can pursue academic titles like a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree in cybersecurity which can take anywhere from 2-10 years to accomplish. This requires dedication, time, and money, but will give you much of the required information you need to fully understand the scope of cybersecurity.
Smaller certifications can be won through online courses sponsored by the government or other expert bodies like the EC-council's certification for ethical hackers or CompTIA's Security+ Certification.
Each certification tends to focus on one area of cybersecurity and collecting more and more can give hopeful security personnel the chance to obtain more knowledge and the proof that they have it.
It can take years of experience, education, and training to become a cybersecurity expert. But, with resources like the ones above and enough time and dedication, everyone can become cyber-competent with a general knowledge of how to stay safe.
One of the most effective ways to learn about cybersecurity (and bump shoulders with industry experts along the way) is to attend conferences filled to the brim with educational speakers, key takeaways, and innovative ideas that can change the way you look at your industry.
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