Standing at the bottom of the mountain looking up is where I find myself yet again.
I joined the Air National Guard full-time in the summer of 2018, 36 years old and beginning what is my 4th, 5th or 6th career or life stage so to speak. Getting back into IT wasn’t something I planned on, instead, I found myself at a pretty ‘OK’ job with benefits going into my mid 30s but not really gaining any transferable skills if I were to lose said job.
Starting as a 3d1x1, or in regular type talk, I was a generalist help-desk person. If you can’t get your email to load, send or save you called my office. If a certain website isn’t loading to your liking, you call my office. If you can’t access a certain file, you contact my office. Basically, if anything doesn’t work to what you’d expect my office would be the first to hear about it. This was my introduction back into IT, and to be quite honest, it was a nice way to be eased back in. I got to see and diagnose a wide variety of issues and learned who did what beyond my scope of responsibilities.
Before long, I started studying networking during my off time. It all started by attending a Cisco CCNA Security Cohort training. This training also came with an ICND1 and CCNA Security exam voucher. I was once CCNA certified way back in 2002 so a lot of old neurons began reconnecting and I was able to make gains rather quickly. In 2019, I cleared CCNA Security, Cloud and Routing & Switching. I moved to Junos and cleared JNCIA Junos, DevOps, Design and Cloud. I did a bunch of other training but nothing that lead to clearing any more certifications yet most importantly, my confidence was starting to grow.
A job opportunity opened up in my organizations infrastructure shop as a 3d1x2 in late 2019 and after a short interview process I was added to the team. Due to being short staffed I worked in both my previous position and my new position for months before being allowed to fully relocate. I got to do a whole bunch of new things, such as, racking and stacking equipment, running cables and on-box troubleshooting/configuration. This was a very fun and welcomed change of pace and yet another opportunity presented itself, a position on my organizations Mission Defense Team. I started on this team, albeit remotely for the most part, about 10 weeks ago.
It is here where I find myself in what feels like the bottom of the mountain again. The Mission Defense Team is a new type of position/shop being developed within the Air Force providing everything a ‘Security Operations Center’ would do. I’m to stand up this shop with five other individuals, of which, most have never been security analysts up to this point. So the task is a large one. We have our equipment but have a lot to learn to truly harness our equipments capabilities.
Where to Start?
There is soooooooo much more to learn to feel like i’m even at the ground level of where I need to be. I read one post that laid out a four year learning plan. Since starting, another thought that continually enters my head is: How does someone jump straight into security. I know security is a ‘hot job’ and what not so a lot of people are going after that money but I can’t for the life of me understand how some ‘starts’ with security. There is so much ground work to be done. In short, it seems like to be proficient, you have to be pretty good at all the things.
Since I’ve been somewhat tied to learning a lot of Cisco due to being on their e-learning platform, I went through their CyberOps Associate training. I found this training to be a great introduction to a Security Operations Center and thought the labs shined as they were the best part and key to learning the basic principles presented.
I’ve also dived into two books:
Network Intrusion Detection, Third Edition by Stephen Northcutt and Judy Novak
– I’ve made it through the first 2 chapters and I really love this book. A lot of the first two chapters was review but the way it was presented with just the slight bits of humer was delightful.
Applied Incident Response by Steve Anson
– I made it to chapter 6 of this book and it was at this point I switched to reading the book just previously discussed. The fact that I switched books doesn’t mean this book is ‘bad’ and I will come back to tackle this one! This book is a bit more advanced and you can really just take your time going through a good three paragraphs as you go on and read all the linked to references.
Where to Go?
This is quite possibly the most important question. I’m always tinkering with my ‘study plan’ and how I should go about sharpening my toolset. My work is going to put me through a SANS course, specifically SEC503 which should take up most of my time.
Besides that, I’ve started trying to follow and locate different ‘InfoSec’ people on the InterWebs. Most notably, I’ve started watching a few YouTube video’s on the Cyber Mentor’s page.
What I’d really like to know, and the purpose of this post, is to ask you, the reader, what do you think I NEED to study/do as a person just getting into this security domain? If you have any suggestions, feel free to hit me up on the twitter and let me know. I plan to keep posting along this journey and let you know what mile posts are in the rearview. Till next time!