11 Cybersecurity Projects to Grow Your Skills & Portfolio
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In the United States, there are only enough cybersecurity professionals to fill 68% of the available cybersecurity jobs. This gap makes it an excellent time to join the cybersecurity industry. And one of the most effective ways to launch your cybersecurity career is to grow your cybersecurity skills through project-based learning.
In this article, we’ll explore 11 different cybersecurity projects that you can use to grow your skills and build a professional portfolio.
What Is the Point of a Cybersecurity Project?
Cybersecurity projects help beginners hone their skills. Projects present hands-on opportunities to explore cybersecurity fundamentals, practice important techniques, and gain experience with cybersecurity solution design. Cybersecurity projects can teach vital skills like threat detection and mitigation, identity access and management (IAM) governance, and vulnerability assessment and remediation tactics.
Robust cybersecurity bootcamp programs use project-based learning to teach aspiring cybersecurity professionals the skills that they need to get hired. Projects also help students pass cybersecurity certifications, like CompTIA Security+. Cybersecurity projects also show hiring managers that you possess the necessary technical skills and that you have an aptitude for problem-solving.
Cybersecurity Projects Worth Considering
To grow your cybersecurity skills, choose a project that is appropriate for your level of experience. Consider which skills you want to improve, and what tools you’d like to learn. An ideal project builds upon your current strengths, while also presenting you with new challenges. With that in mind, let’s explore exciting cybersecurity project ideas for all skill levels.
Easy Cybersecurity Projects
If you’re new to cybersecurity, try these projects that cater to beginners.
Packet sniffers monitor network traffic for suspicious activity. They also capture and analyze data packets that flow between devices within the same network, and monitor packets that are exchanged between networked devices and the internet.
Building a packet sniffer is an opportunity to practice networking and programming skills. You can create a simple packet sniffer in Python with a socket module. After configuring your socket module to capture packets from the network, you’ll write Python scripts to extract those captured packets.
Keyloggers track each keyboard stroke on a device. While hackers use keyloggers to steal sensitive information, cybersecurity professionals use these applications to surveil user behavior and detect unusual activity.
To build a keylogger software, download and install Python’s pynput library. With this library, you’ll be able to monitor keyboard and mouse inputs. You’ll also be able to deliver log keystrokes to a specific location—like an email, server, or local system storage. For a slightly more challenging project, try building a keylogger for a virtual keyboard.
Lost Data Retrieval
Data recovery skills are vital to cyber incident response, as malware can corrupt, destroy, or manipulate data. Ransomware attacks encrypt a victim’s data and demand payment for decrypting the files.
Outline a ransomware data recovery procedure to practice data retrieval skills. Focus on restoring the affected systems from a backup. Next, build a plan for using data recovery tools to extract corrupted or deleted data from storage devices.
Tool Comparison Technical Guide
Publishing a tool comparison guide will help you solidify your knowledge of cybersecurity tools. Be sure to cover various categories of cybersecurity tools, including:
- Vulnerability management software
- Encryption tools
- Password managers
- Antivirus software
- Penetration testing tools
- Network security monitoring tools
Explain the function of each type of tool and provide examples of common use cases. Compare popular open-source and paid tools, and discuss the pros and cons of each.
In-Depth Guide to Recent Cybersecurity Attacks
Recent cyberattacks have shut down fuel pipelines, compromised water treatment plants, and extracted ransoms of $50 million. Try analyzing one of these high-profile cyberattacks in a case study.
First, contextualize the event. Explain the security posture of the target at the time of the incident, and pinpoint which vulnerabilities the attackers exploited. Dissect how the attack was executed and outline the target’s response. Review the impact of the attack and reflect on actions that could have reduced risk, minimized damages, or prevented the incident. Summarize lessons learned from the cyberattack.
Intermediate Cybersecurity Projects
Once you’ve mastered cybersecurity fundamentals, level up your skills with more complex projects.
SQL injections are attack vectors that use malicious SQL code to manipulate back-end databases. Hackers use SQL injections to access private information and commandeer administrative rights to a database.
To practice SQL injection vulnerability remediation, set up a virtual machine by signing up for a free-tier Amazon Web Services account. Then practice executing SQL injection using
an authorized educational website. Once you uncover the website’s vulnerabilities, figure out how to fix them by editing the PHP files on your virtual machine. Write up an SQL vulnerability assessment with security recommendations to summarize your findings.
Credit cards, debit cards, and passports have scannable radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that enable contactless payment. In a skimming attack, unauthorized actors scan RFID tags to illegally access credit card details and other private information.
Try creating software that blocks RFID readers, or build an application that alerts users to unauthorized RFID scanning.
Security Assessment Report on an Existing Website
This project resembles a routine audit conducted by a security team. Before you begin, be sure to obtain permission to analyze an existing website. Or, consider using your own website.
First, collect and analyze data to identify vulnerabilities. Document the scope of each security issue and how you assessed it. Prioritize each risk according to severity. Include an executive summary accessible to non-technical readers. Strive for brevity.
Get To Know Other Cybersecurity Students
Mergers And Acquisitions at Autodesk
IT Security Specialist at Cooper Machinery Services
Cybersecurity Career Track Student at Springboard
Advanced Cybersecurity Projects
High-level cybersecurity projects often require programming skills and practical experience. If you enroll in a cybersecurity bootcamp, you’ll tackle advanced projects in the latter part of the program.
Build Your Own Encryption Software
Encryption is a cybersecurity technique that scrambles and encodes private data. Authorized users can decrypt data using an encryption key. Working with text encryption—which uses cryptographic algorithms to convert text data into a cipher or hash code—will help you analyze the structure of commonly used encryption algorithms like Caesar Cipher, Beaufort Cipher, and Autokey Cipher.
Try building your own text encryption software, or create an app to encrypt files using existing algorithms. Use the Amazon Web Services Encryption Software Development Kit to implement encryption in an application. Once you’re comfortable with text encryption, try your hand at image encryption.
Create a Cybersecurity Policy from Scratch
Cybersecurity policies document technical and behavioral recommendations. This is done to codify cybersecurity practices and guide an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
To create a cybersecurity policy from scratch, identify and prioritize the organization’s assets and risks. Outline the protocols and procedures that will safeguard these assets, and explain how security vulnerabilities will be neutralized. Create an incident response plan and assess relevant cybersecurity regulations to build a compliant policy.
Hack an Android Device
Organizations hire ethical hackers to uncover vulnerabilities in a system or application. Hone your ethical hacking skills and advance your knowledge of application security with Android, the world’s most popular operating system.
This project will teach you the basics of Android penetration testing and help you learn to locate vulnerabilities in Android applications. Because Android is a Linux-based operating system, you’ll get the chance to build experience with Kali Linux, an advanced penetration testing Linux distribution used for ethical hacking.
What Skills Should You Focus on With Your Cybersecurity Project?
A project is an opportunity to demonstrate that you have a strong command of the applied skills that you need to get hired. Let’s explore key skills you should focus on with a cybersecurity project.
Robust documentation is necessary to communicate cybersecurity protocols and build effective cybersecurity policies. When conducting risk assessments and audits, cybersecurity professionals must document their methodologies, findings, analyses, and recommendations. Consistent, straightforward documentation of incident response procedures is also necessary to mount a successful cyber incident response.
Programming skills are necessary to detect vulnerabilities, conduct malware analysis, automate security tasks, and remediate cybersecurity risks. Coding is a particularly important skill for mid-level and upper-level cybersecurity professionals, and helps advanced professionals understand system architecture. Coding skills are also central to cryptography.
Cybersecurity professionals use cryptography to secure data and communications. In the event of a data breach, this encryption ensures the security of an organization’s private data. To perform cryptography, you’ll need to be able to design algorithms, ciphers, and other security measures that encode and protect sensitive data.
Network security encompasses hardware and software protocols. Cybersecurity professionals use networking skills to protect networked systems and ensure reliable, authorized access to applications and data that facilitate key business operations.
Testing and Identifying Threats
Threat identification is a critical component of any risk management strategy. Common cybersecurity threats include malware, phishing, and ransomware. Penetration tests and vulnerability assessments are used to identify the cybersecurity risks that these threats pose to an organization’s infrastructure. You’ll need testing and threat identification skills to execute security audits and make recommendations for vulnerability remediation.
How To Document and Promote Your Cybersecurity Projects
Upload your projects to GitHub, and include a link to this account on your resume. Be sure to include a README file that succinctly summarizes the purpose and significance of each GitHub project. Discuss the purpose of the project and detail the impact of your contributions.
Cybersecurity Project FAQs
Want to know more about cybersecurity projects? Check out these answers to frequently asked questions.
What Is a Capstone Cybersecurity Project?
To graduate from Springboard’s Cybersecurity Career Track bootcamp, students must complete a final capstone project under the guidance of an expert mentor. For their capstone project, students work on a hypothetical penetration test and create a corrective action plan for a given problem statement. This hands-on project is designed to synthesize cybersecurity concepts learned over the course of the program and familiarize students with the core responsibilities of a cybersecurity analyst.
Should I Put My Cybersecurity Projects on My Resume?
Early-career professionals should list cybersecurity projects on their resumes, as projects are opportunities to demonstrate your command of applied cybersecurity knowledge. When discussing a project, name the tools and technical skills you used to achieve your results.
Is Cybersecurity Hard To Learn?
If you enroll in a bootcamp program, you’ll be ready to launch a career in cybersecurity after six months of study.
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