Where Do I Start (Different Newbie Question)
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Thread: Where Do I Start (Different Newbie Question)

  1. #1
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    Where Do I Start (Different Newbie Question)

    After spending over 7 years in the US Marine Corps, I have decided I want to be a Computer Security Specialist. I am currently enrolled in a local community college in IT, and am set to start this spring semester, 2005 and my next step is to chose my electives. I want to do what ROn1n does, work for a large security consultance protecting companys databases, or work for the government, tracking down terrorists groups or cyber-terrorists. I plan on taking 2 years at this local community college to get my associates degree then transfering on to a 4-year college, for my bachelors, and then take any further schooling neccassary for me to accomplish my objective.

    My question is, what computer information systems/related curriculum should I take (i.e. CIS 121 Microsoft Office, CIS 225 Andvance Java Programming, CSC (Computer Science) 214 Signal and Immaging Processing, and CSC 215 Introduction to Linux. And what IT sequences should I take (i.e. CIS 110 Building and Maintaining the PC and CIS 208 Visual Basic Programming, or CIS 225 Advance Java Programming and CSC 206 Digital Computer Organization) in order for me to get to and be what I want to be and do what I want to do in the Computer Security field? And what other electives should I take that to help gear me toward that profession? Like should I take psychology, forensic psychology, criminology, etc.?

    I have a fairly good knowledge of Windows, but am not certified in anything. I have a very basic knowledge of networking and used to use these little laptop-type computers to process fire missions and talk to other scout teams where we had to set up the other teams addresses and create files in the computer to talk digitally to them over encrypted frequencies that we had to establish.

    Any and all information, input, comments, suggestions or responses would be very greatly appreciated and helpful, and if ROn1n is reading this, I would very much appreciate anything you have to say about this, as well, or anyone else who does what he does or works along those lines, working for a large, or any size security consultancy. Thank you very much for your time and consideration to anyone who take the time to read this and especially to those who respond.

  2. #2
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    what college are you at?
    More cowbell! We need more cowbell!
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  3. #3
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    Take that intro to Linux Class... If you don't know any linux, that is. That will make you more well rounded at any rate.
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  4. #4
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
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    I'm pretty much on the same track that you want to be.

    My associates degree is for Computer Network Engineering which focuses on networks, protocols, switching and routing (Cisco academy), firewalls and intrusion detection systems (small bit), intro programming (c/c++), Microsoft and *nix operating systems, circuit theory and application, microprocessors, structured computer orginization, discrete mathematics (boolean algebra) and a couple other things.

    From there I can take an additional 6 classes (programming, macroeconomics, accounting) and get a second associates degree in Computer Information Systems.

    I plan on getting my CCNA cert along with Network + and Security + certs this winter and summer.

    I haven't really taken any applications courses. I've just learned them on my own to the best of my abilities.

    The most important thing (possibly even over your degree) will be experience. So, get your foot in the door some place doing tech support and work your way up. I've learned sooooo much more from working in the field than I have from learning in a classroom. I started doing tech support and now I do everything. You can't be taught to troubleshoot. Its something you pick up on your own from experience. Join a couple of computer forums and participate. Ask smart questions (not questions that you can find with a quick google search). Help out others when you know the answers.

    If you can't get a job somewhere... grab any and every computer you can get your hands on and build yourself a network and actually apply everything that you have learned. You can read it in a book 1000+ times. But can you actually apply it and make it work?

    Well, thats my opinion. Everyone does it differently.
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    Learn ever OS you can, learn all the Networking stuff you can. To protect a network you need to know them inside and out. Take programming to learn about exploits, and what they actually do. Learn linux, if your working on a network you will need to know *nix at some point in time. To protect databases learn SQL and other database language. You wanna work for the gov doing this stuff you need to be damn good. Oh and get a job working with computer. Tech support is a good start. In my experience if you can walk a complete idiot through trouble shooting steps and fixes then you know the computer pretty well. plus you see TONS of random problems that they dont show in books. You can try all you want but human stupidity/error is impossible to recreate with a computer. plus it will get your foot in the door for bigger things.
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  6. #6
    Macht Nicht Aus moxnix's Avatar
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    All good advice given above, but don't forget your background courses like English, math, and political science.

    Why.....because anyone who will hire you will be looking at how well you can communicate, in person and in letters and memos.

    No one wants the shabby dressed socially inept nerd now days. They want some one who will project the image they wish to promote with their buisness. And that also means being able to carry on a conversation about current events.....that are not technically related.
    \"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO - What a Ride!\"
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  7. #7
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
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    moxnix: Very true. It would seem that the biggest area that works wants me to improve on is communication skills. I try to keep up with current events but my english and technical writing needs some improvement. I've taken the classes, but I need to review my books every now and again. I don't write many docs or memos. Just like with everything else... if I don't use it, I loose it.
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    I would think that given a military background, the governmental / police investigations route would be the way to go.

    I'm studying computer security / forensic investigations currently. My college has provided a broad background in law and criminal psychology as well as the more technical aspects, which will certainly help if I go the investigations route.

    An investigation is only half the process. The other half lies in successfully prosecuting the suspect, which involves preseving the chain of evidence, knowing specifically which laws were violated, presenting a case before a judge / jury panel effectively, and proper search and siezure techniques.

    I would personally think that a programming background is not as important as the law and security background in this field. The time spent learning it would be better spent elsewhere. A few basic programming courses are a necessity, though, unless you learn it totally on your own.

    Linux is a must. The flexibility of linux forensics far outweighs the user-friendliness of Windows forensics. And don't forget that half the servers around run on it, or some unix variant.

    So I would definitely recommend the linux, criminology, psychology, and computer science courses. Criminology and psychology actually help a lot more then you expect when you can rationalize offender motivations to some degree. Try to find some in the network security field as well. I wouldn't worry *too* mych about the coding end of things, though. Investigators aren't developing new code; they just need to understand existing code to some degree.
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    As a newbie you have to start from basics look forward to unix, networking fundamentals(ccna)
    c programming,socket programming in c learning all this will help a lot don't be in any kinda hurry all this requires time and patience.
    Apart from all this i will recomend ASM programming too.If you have a good knowledge on asm you will have no problem in learning other programming languages Also you will learn the art of reverse engineering.
    And always be involved with AO.you don't have to post to be involve remember you can be negged badly for asking bad question here you don't want to be banned so always remember to read all posts if you don't understand some terms used in those posts for example bittorent or MD5 or one way encryption then got to google and search this way you will learn a lot.
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  10. #10
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    If you're intending to use these skills in law-enforcement/government enforcement, I would strongly suggest contacting the agency you desire to join and asking them what their prerequisites for joining them are. This goes doubly for the 'free market' IT types - in this day and age, plain 'computer professionals' are dime a dozen. Aiming specifically at a certain agency would be your best route.

    Now if you just want it for the 'knowledge' side.....
    Everything suggested above, plus
    at least an associates/state certification in Criminal Justice/criminology (yes, become a licensed cop, whether you choose to work as one or not - it'll add just the right amount of 'oomph' to your resume). You might also consider adding a few forensics courses just for the right amount of spice - this way you not only know what you're looking for in when you look at a machine, you know what laws have been broken how on stuff you 'stumble across,' and you know how to acquire information that's been 'deleted' or 'damaged'. You'll also know how to conduct outside investigations, proper Q&A techniques for various folks you'll encounter in the course of your investigation, and what to look for there as well..
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