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Is Cyber Security Hard to Learn? How to Get Started in 2024

9 minute read | February 28, 2022
Sakshi Gupta

Written by:
Sakshi Gupta

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The past two decades have seen massive growth in the internet and computer industry, leading to a boom in job opportunities in the field. Cybersecurity is one of these career opportunities, highly sought after in today’s digitally paced world.

Since it’s a relatively new field, many wonder if cybersecurity is hard to learn. To address this concern, it’s essential to explore different methods to learn cybersecurity. This involves starting with its basic concepts and progressively advancing to more complex topics. Initially, the concepts might seem overwhelming for newcomers. However, the real question is: how difficult is it to delve into cybersecurity? The guide below answers this question and also provides insights on how to begin your journey in learning cybersecurity.

What Is Cyber Security?

Cyber security refers to protecting devices connected to the internet against cyber attacks. These devices include servers, laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, webcams, and even vehicles. 

As technology advances, cyber security professionals, find new ways to protect online assets against attacks through software development or penetration testing.

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What Makes Cyber Security Hard To Learn?

A career in cyber security can be anywhere from mildly challenging to quite difficult, depending on your specialty and the individual job requirements. Some factors that make cyber security hard to learn are:

  • Large numbers of tools. Since there are so many potential attacks, a cyber security professional must be familiar with various complex cybersecurity tools, technical skills, and software. This can include intrusion detection systems, firewalls, vulnerability scanners, and more.
  • Constant updating. As new vulnerabilities are discovered, cyber security professionals must update their knowledge and tools to protect against them. Due to this, there’s always a need to keep learning, which can be hard to do, especially when you already have a job.
  • Ever-changing technology. The technology used in cyber security is constantly changing, making it challenging to keep up. For example, how you protect against malware or practice ethical hacking in 2022 may differ from 2010.

Despite the challenges, a career in cyber security is highly rewarding. As technology advances, the demand for cyber security professionals will stay strong. What’s more, cyber security is an exciting field with high job satisfaction rates.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Cyber Security?

A Bachelor’s degree in cyber security takes three to four years in most places, and a Master’s degree generally takes two years more. 

If you want to pursue a Ph.D. in cyber security, it will take an extra three to five years. But apart from formal education, you can also learn cyber security from an online certification or course. The duration of these courses depends on the content they cover. Plus, you can develop your soft skills by working under a mentor. 

How To Get Started With Cyber Security

Getting started with cyber security requires you to understand the basics. Otherwise, you’ll be overwhelmed by all the information out there. This is why it’s important to take courses that focus on the basics only. Most cyber security courses are designed to make them suitable for beginners and experts alike.

Here are some ways to prepare yourself for a job in cyber security.

Build Your Foundation

The first step in learning cybersecurity is building familiarity with foundational concepts, such as networking, operating systems, and programming. 

Some topics you should learn:

  • Basic Scripting or Introductory Programming
  • Information Assurance Fundamentals
  • Intro to Cryptography
  • Cyber Defense and Breaches 
  • Cyber Threats
  • Networking Concepts
  • Policy, Legal, Ethics, and Compliance
  • Fundamental Security Design Principles
  • IT Systems Components
  • System Administration

It also helps to familiarize yourself with security threat classes, namely piracy, tampering, and reverse engineering. Piracy refers to the unauthorized use of copyrighted material, while tampering is the intentional alteration of data. Reverse engineering is the process of analyzing a product to understand how it works.

Learn about anti-tamper protections, such as anti-virus products and firewalls. Additionally, get a basic understanding of how to learn about a program’s operation and how it can be used to steal intellectual property.

A solid foundation will streamline your cyber security career path and make it easier to learn more advanced concepts.

Utilize Free Resources

The internet has abundant free resources for people who want to get started with cyber security. You can find plenty of tutorials, articles, and video lectures that can help you build your foundation.

In addition, many certification programs offer free resources. When using free cybersecurity resources, make sure that you only use reputable sources to avoid falling for scams.

For instance, the Foundations of Cyber Security curriculum is free of cost and helps you build a strong foundation in cyber security. Along with learning about different types of cyberattacks, you’ll also understand methods to protect your environments through different designs and tools.

Take a Course

is cyber security hard: Take a Course

The best way to hone your cyber security skills is to take a course. You can take a cyber security boot camp that guarantees a job to ensure you end up working in cyber security shortly after learning.

When choosing a cyber security course, make sure it has the following features:

  • Mentorship. A good course will have a mentor who can support you in your learning journey and help you with your problems.
  • Real-world projects. Projects relevant to the real world. This will give you the hands-on experience you need to succeed in the field.
  • Industry recognition. The course should be recognized by the industry. This will ensure that the skills you learn are up to date and in demand and validate your learning.
  • Practical exams. Exams test your ability to apply the skills you’ve learned.
  • Career guidance: What steps to take after the course to succeed in a cyber security career.

How To Get Better at Cybersecurity

Is cyber security hard to learn? Like any new skill, it comes with its set of challenges. But with a willingness to learn and a little effort, the learning process will get easier for you.

Get a Mentor

A mentor in any field is a valuable asset to career growth and development. Mentors are usually industry experts with a long history in the field.

A cyber security mentor can help you:

  • Understand the basics of cyber security
  • Identify opportunities in the field
  • Develop your skill set
  • Help you network and advise on which jobs to apply for

Earn a Certificate

Getting a certificate in cyber security will help you prove your credentials. Some topics covered in cyber security certifications include:

  • Network Security
  • Cryptography
  • Operating Systems
  • Web Applications
  • Malicious Code Analysis
  • Security Management

The best way to find the right one for you is to research the different types and then compare them with your skillset.

These certificates will show employers that you have the skills to succeed in cyber security and are willing to learn more about it. Additionally, these courses can help you round out your resume by adding relevant experience.

Certificate courses only take six to twelve months, so they’re perfect for anyone who wants to quickly improve their cyber security skills.

Participate in Competitions

Participating in competitions will help you improve your skills in cyber security. They can also help you network with other experts in the field.

The best way to find relevant competitions is to search for “cyber security competitions” on Google. 

This will give you a list of different types of available competitions. Some examples are:

  • National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition: The competition was created to offer a template for cyber security organizations. The annual competition has different rounds. Initially, colleges participate at regional levels, and then the qualifiers move to the national competition.
  • Pwn2Own: Pwn2Own is a hacking competition that takes place annually. At the CanSecWest Conference, the contest invites cyber security professionals to exploit consumer software and find flaws in devices.
  • Pwnium: Pwnium is a cyber security contest presented by Google that also takes place at the CanSecWest Conference. Contestants have to find vulnerabilities in Google Chrome OS. Along with meeting your potential employer, you can also win thousands of dollars in prize money.

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Attend Events and Presentations

Attending conferences and workshops is a great way to learn about new cyber security threats, technologies, and strategies. You’ll also get to meet other experts in the field.

Some events that you may want to attend are:

  • DerbyCon. DerbyCon is a cyber security conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The conference has different tracks, such as incident response and forensics, malware, security engineering, and social engineering.
  • Black Hat USA. Black Hat USA is in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference has different tracks, such as enterprise security, hacker techniques, and mobile security.
  • SecureWorld. SecureWorld takes place in various locations throughout the United States. The conference offers different tracks, such as cloud security, IoT, and risk management.

To find events like these, use Google to search for “cyber security conferences.” You can also check out the calendars on organizations’ websites. For example, SANS has a calendar where you can see what’s happening in cyber security before signing up for any events.

Joining communities, such as GitHub groups, forums, or discussion boards can help you learn more about cyber security. Additionally, they’ll give you a chance to share any projects you’ve created with other experts in the field.

Pick a Specialty

Depending on your interests, you can choose specific skills for yourself in cyber security. You may want to work with information systems or implement security measures in organizations. Some examples of cyber security specialties are:

  • Data loss prevention
  • Incident response and forensic analysis
  • Penetration testing
  • Secure software development
  • Architecture and policy
  • Governance, risk, and compliance
  • Access and identity management

You can also select your area of interest based on the types of cyber security techniques, which are:

  • Network security
  • Cloud security
  • Application security
  • Internet of Things security
  • Critical infrastructure cyber security

About Cyber Security as a Career

By now, you should have the answer to “Is cyber security hard to get into?” So let’s discuss the good parts of the job.

What Are the Requirements To Get Into Cyber Security?

According to Burning Glass’s cyber security hiring report, 60% of cyber security positions require applicants to have at least one certification. Some other requirements for a cyber security job include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related subject
  • At least three years of experience in a technical role
  • Experience with security tools and protocols, such as Forcepoint and Nikto

The good news is that if you’re someone with a degree in computer science, electrical engineering, or a related field, you are likely to have most of the skills required for a cyber security job.

Is Cybersecurity Hard To Get Into?

Cyber security can be hard to get into due to system complexities and the fast pace of developing technology. On top of that, professionals have to keep up with the global and national regulations surrounding cybersecurity. 

However, you can get started by taking cyber security courses to help boost your knowledge of the field. A cybersecurity course will help familiarize you with the fundamentals of cybersecurity, its practical application, and regulations around it. 

Is Cybersecurity a Good Career?

Cyber security is undoubtedly a good career in today’s age, primarily because of the increasing number of cyberattacks. Not only does a career in this field offer a good salary and job security, but it also gives you a chance to protect people from cyber threats.

Currently, cyber security plays an important role within the tech industry, and the demand for cyber security experts, like cybersecurity analysts, for instance, is only expected to increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the employment of information security analysts to grow 33% by 2030. Every year, there are about 16,300 openings in the industry, which means you have a high chance of employment after taking an online course or certification that prepares you for cyber security careers.

Does Cyber Security Pay Well?

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of cyber security engineers is up to $101,548 per year in the United States. Even those working at entry-level cybersecurity positions and low-paying organizations can make up to $71,000 a year. People working at the higher end of the spectrum, like cyber security managers, earn up to $145,000 a year. Your salary will also increase as you polish your cyber security resume and develop more hard skills.

The internet has become an essential part of our daily lives, and security professionals need to be adept at defending against cyberattacks, identifying vulnerabilities, and managing risk. 

If you want to bag a high-paying job in the field, you need to learn from free resources, take an online course, keep polishing your existing skills, and find a mentor who can guide you at every stage of this journey.

Since you’re here…
Interested in a career in cybersecurity? With or Cybersecurity Bootcamp, you’ll get a job in the industry, or we’ll return your tuition money. Test your skills with our free cybersecurity course, and check out our student reviews. We’re a safe bet. 🔒😉

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Managing Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer with experience in the Indian and US markets.