Working in Cyber Security - What is it like?

Hi. I’m in great need of clarification as to what I will actually be doing in a Cyber Security job.

What are the biggest daily/weekly tasks, programs and tools that you use as a cyber security specialist? How do I really know that this is the right pick for me? Is the great interest and appreciation for security, privacy and anonimity enough? The field is fascinating but also very broad, it seems to me.
Perhaps you could include something I would ‘need’ to like to do for this field to be applicable to me?

I’m considering to go for a 5 year master in Cyber Security now… (I live in scandinavia, might be different for others)
But I keep asking myself ‘‘I really love learning about this field - but what will I actually end up doing? Will the job be as fun as this learning?’’

To conclude, I’m currently doing the full cyber security course and I’m loving it! It’s one of the first things I’m very much considering to make into a career. I keep on coming back, daily, simply because of how fascinating it is to me - I want to learn more and more. But this question keeps haunting me now. School starts in a few months and I’m admittedly getting quite stressed because of not having 100% certainty. I hope some of you experienced cyber security professionals could help me out. It would be tremendously appreciated.

A big thank you to Nathan and StationX for the great courses and forum!

  • Obscure

Hi Obscure,
Welcome to the community! Glad you are enjoying the course!
For an idea of what different paths are there as part of cybersecurity, you could check out Cyberseek pathway

You must realize the daily job duties vary vastly depending on your role/job title. Then there is the following color wheel that is a bit exaggerated in terms of colors but has a good distribution of job roles and titles that might be a good place to start charting your path.
image

As for a 5 year Master’s, well I found my experience really great, learnt a lot of different aspects of security, did a lot of research. I would suggest not to get too stressed about it! (I did a Master’s in Cybersecurity -2 Years from USA (USC))

If you want more help in terms of charting out and discussing various pathways that you would want to take, you could reach out to me!

Hope this helps!

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You’re really helping me. Thank you!

I have some more questions though:

  • Can I decide which security path to go after the masters degree?
  • For blue teaming, or red teaming, what are some of the most regular tasks?
  • What do you enjoy the most about working in cybersec? Dislike the most?

Could you take a look at my schools Bachelor plan, just to get a feel for which direction they’re going? How does it look to you? Please elaborate. Thank you.

–Year 1

  • Problem Based Learning and Research Methodologies
  • Introduction to Information Security
  • Professional Aspects of Computing
  • Introduction to Programming
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Network Principles
  • Programming and Databases
  • Studio project work
    —Year 2
  • Criminality and Warfare in the Digital Domain
  • Operating File Systems
  • Penetration Testing Practice and Procedure
  • Network Security
  • Wireless and Mobile Devices
  • Information Security Management
    ----Year 3
  • Computer Network Attack
  • Vulnerabilities: Exploration and Exploitation
  • Computer Network Defence
  • Elective
  • Elective

Electives:

  • Cryptography and Steganography
  • Incident Management
  • Further Discrete Mathematics
  • Data Recovery
  • HoneyPots
  • Pure Mathematics for Computing
  • Yes, you can go for any security domain you like after your studies. It will be mostly experimentation and you have to spend little time in the industry to feel what you like and then finally go for it. There are also cases if you have worked at different internships then you can figure out what you want to do.

  • For different domains in the security and the tasks, look here: https://tisiphone.net/2015/10/12/starting-an-infosec-career-the-megamix-chapters-1-3/

  • I personally am into defensive security. I am working in a niche field called Threat Intelligence towards the dark web sites. I started with doing normal offensive stuff and then started into Threat Intel.

Every bachelor’s program will take you through basic Computer Science topics and basic cybersecurity knowledge. It includes knowledge of OS, networking, data structures, cybersecurity fundamentals, network security basics, application security basics, and other domain-related basics. So, your program is decent enough.

Don’t just focus on the program, you have to spend time apart from it and do other things to gain more knowledge in cybersecurity, Read this article: https://danielmiessler.com/blog/build-successful-infosec-career/

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Hey Obscure,

Ah that’s a great set of courses/electives.

1. Deciding which security path to take after a master’s degree:

Absolutely possible, it helps though if you find your comfort zone by the time you are in your master’s programme. In your case, explore as much as you can in the first 3-4 years, build all the foundations you are able to, not necessary just the ones that interest you. For the last 1-2 years treat it more like a dedicated Master’s degree. Use this time to specialize in at least 2 fields, I will get to this one later.

2. Blue Teaming/Red teaming regular tasks

I am hoping you are asking for the skills that both professionals share at the minimum and the tasks they might both do.
A solid understanding of networks and how information flows. Both colors(red and blue) need to be really good at written and spoken communication and negotiation, this includes writing reports and convincing people about security, getting budget approvals or hiring approvals, etc. They both require a solid understanding of atleast one operating system and one scripting language.
No matter what stream you choose, even if you get into compliance and risk or security awareness, you will require a strong fundamental understanding of one programming language.

3. What I enjoy the most/dislike the most?

I have chosen to specialize into what is called GRC or Governance, Risk and Compliance. This part of cyber-sec deals a bit more with the business end of things than the more technical end, but it requires you to have a solid understanding of most cyber-sec technology. If I am called upon to assess a technology, I need to be able to read pentest reports, understand from a business perspective what identified vulnerabilities mean, be able to identify which ones require priority handling and which ones are acceptable losses and so on and so forth.

I haven’t found a field I dislike per se, but I am aware that I am especially weak in reverse engineering, malware analysis and threat hunting. I am still exploring the other things one can do within cyber-sec, the beauty is you can pursue something that you are really good at as your main career and something else as an hobby and they would complement each other. Moreover your hobby projects are considered fair game if you at all want to switch roles and transition into a different role. For example, a lot of penetration testers eventually get into compliance and risk roles and the experience helps.

Bachelor Plan Comments

Year 1: Seems to be getting all the requisite fundamentals in place. Includes setting the right mindset, the mathematical inclination(can sometimes make it easier to program), a solid foundation in programming, networks, databases. I believe you will also be covering data structures and some well known algorithms. Its always good to be a developer before transitioning into a security role. It helps, in some roles it is even necessary(for example reverse engineering and malware analysis require really deep subject knowledge in programming)
Choose a good studio project work. Look to online communities and to your professors if you are ever lost for ideas.

Year 2: This is more of a deep dive into the world of security, you are now ready to be exposed to the broad classes within security. I see a good mix of hands-on(red/blue team) and theoretical(GRC/Security Awareness) subjects. Make sure to follow the link posted by Apurv in the previous reply, Daniel Miessler’s post is very relevant, though don’t take it to heart. My career path doesn’t fit in with everything that he prescribes.

Year 3: Deep dive continues you have options for two electives, now this is my opinion and since I don’t know the actual details of what is taught in each course I may be wrong. The way I look at the them these are the broad categories the electives can be divided into:
The role of an Incident responder (blue team): Incident Management, Data Recovery.
The role of a threat hunter (blue/red team depending on organization): Honey Pots
The role of a security researcher: Cryptography, Discrete Mathematics and Pure Mathematics

Hope this helps!

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Thank you for this! This is an amazing outline of what to expect with a Masters Programme in Cybersecurity. I’ve been looking at different Master schools in the USA and looked at what they offer but you’re absolutely right about finding a comfort zone and sticking with pursuing a skill that you’re really good at as the main career while working on other skills that can complement the job you’re good at. My developer skills are medium level, I’m not a professional software developer as I.T. was my first career which evolved towards network administration. Knowing about software development has definitely helped me understand cybersecurity on many levels. I’m not strong in some areas in cybersecurity but strong in other areas where my interests are stronger. I seem to be leaning towards compliance and risk as a career since writing reports are one of my strong suits. When I was younger, I was more about being on a blue or red team. I guess preferences change as we learn more and get older.

Thank you again for this outline!

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