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Launching a career in net security

I am a recent computer science graduate from the University of MD Eastern Shore who has no experience. I am very interested in getting into network security but I don't know where to start. What type of training do I need to have to reach that network security career plateau?

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You'll need certain basic background in networking: topologies, technologies, protocols, and so forth, is essential to understanding computer and network security. Thus, if you don't already have a networking background, I strongly urge you to obtain the CompTIA Network+ certification (you don't indicate how much networking you had in your Chesapeake bay computer science program). After that, I recommend a pseudo-"ladder" of security certifications as follows:

1. Start with the BrainBench network and internet security exams, to get yourself up and running (www.brainbench.com)
2. Tackle the CIW Security Professional exam next (www.ciwcertified.com); some colleagues of mine wrote a pretty good book on it called "CIW Security Professional Certification Bible," Hungry Minds, 2001.
3. Tackle the TruSecure ICSA (TICSA) certification next, or some other entry-level "serious" certification credential: (SANS GSEC, ISC-squared SSCP, etc.). You'll start seeing books on most of these certs at mid-year, right after you polish off items 1 and 2.
4. From there, let your budget, availability, and interest dictate some mid-level security cert to you (most require 3 years of on the job experience, and take a fair amount of study, so expect to take a hiatus between the previous step and this one): CISSP, ICSE, SANS GIAC Level II, and so forth.
5. If you plan to work in environments where specific products or hardware are in use, you should also investigate vendor-specific security certs from companies like Cisco, CheckPoint, ISS, and so forth. Combined with the preceding elements and 3-plus years of experience you should be able to get a pretty good job.

This was first published in February 2002

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