Cybersecurity

How to Become a Security Researcher

in Cybersecurity
How to Become a Security Researcher

A security researcher investigates security vulnerabilities in applications, websites, hardware, and internet protocols. As security threats evolve, more and more organizations are hiring security researchers to boost their security and their awareness of cybersecurity matters. 

In this guide, you will find out what security research entails and how to become a security researcher. 

What is Security Research?

Data helps organizations to make informed decisions. This is what makes security research important. As a result, a security researcher will spend hours reading news, academic journals, and listening to relevant podcasts about cybersecurity trends. 

But first, a security researcher has to decide what is worth researching since research is time-consuming. Additionally, you need to know when the research is complete so that you can publish your findings and move on to the next research task.

Security research encompasses discovering new things, raising awareness, and putting misconceptions to rest.

How to Become a Security Researcher

Security Researcher

To become a security researcher, you need a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Network Systems or IT. Some security researchers begin by working in an IT security team or as software developers.

If you are a professional in the IT sector and you are interested in security research, you should take these steps:

  • Start learning on your own: based on what you learn during the research phase, start filling the knowledge gaps. For instance, security researchers should know programming languages like Python, Ruby, C, and C++. So, if you are not familiar with one of these languages, teach yourself. You could also learn assembly programming, web developing, steganography, Linux, cryptography, and hacking techniques. 
  • Specialize in a specific field: since there is so much to learn, it will be easier to study what most interests you. For example, if you want to specialize in vulnerability research, learn how to reverse malware and all the other relevant subjects in this field.
  • Use tools to practice: the best way to learn is through practice. Play around with software as much as you can.
  • Advance your studies: you can enroll for a master’s degree in cybersecurity then advance to a Ph.D. This is important if you want to publish authoritative journals on security research.
  • Stay up to date with cybersecurity trends: you should not wait to get hired to become a security researcher. Assuming that this is a field you are passionate about, carrying out your own security research should come naturally.

Roles and Responsibilities

Some of the roles and responsibilities of a security researcher include:

  • Creating hypotheses, new methods, and techniques to solve cybersecurity issues
  • Reverse engineering malware
  • Helping the company to become more aware of cybersecurity
  • Leading technical projects and teams
  • Conducting tests on protocols, hardware, and security controls
  • Writing reports and presenting findings of your research to relevant board members or teams
  • Researching the feasibility of proposed security products and services

Improving cybersecurity is a team effort. Therefore, being a team player is an essential skill. Also, your employer could ask you to handle other cybersecurity roles like penetration testing. This means that you should acquire a diverse set of cybersecurity skills. 

How to Become a Penetration Tester

in Cybersecurity
How to Become a Penetration Tester

You are probably reading this because you want to become a pentester. But what do you need to obtain this well-paying cybersecurity job? In this guide, you will learn how to become a penetration tester and what qualifications you need. 

What is Penetration Testing?

Hackers are always looking for new ways to exploit systems and networks. Even the most secure organizations are usually not that secure. This is where penetration testing – also known as pentesting – comes in!

A penetration tester executes an ethical hack to exploit the vulnerabilities of a system to find out if an attack is possible. The results of this simulated attack are then used to increase the system’s security. Therefore, a penetration tester has to think like an attacker to improve an organization’s security.

A pentester earns between $75,000 and $130,000 a year.

How to Become a Penetration Tester

penetration tester

Most people begin their journeys in other IT-related jobs such as programming and system administration and later take a certified course in pentesting. This means that you should take Computer Science or IT degree courses that have some cybersecurity programs. Also, you need a good understanding of coding, networks, and operating systems to become a pentester. 

However, some ethical hackers are self-taught pentesters or reformed criminal hackers that now want to use their skills for good.

If you are already in the cybersecurity field, follow these steps to become a pentester.

  • Do your research: read as much as you can on penetration testing and cybersecurity to understand the subjects better. Since you need prerequisite knowledge in networks, hardware, databases, and data analysis, refresh your memory if you need to.
  • Get practical: practice what you have learned by using penetration toolkits like Security Onion. This toolkit offers tools to help you practice pentesting on your own. Also, familiarize yourself with the Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES) and OWASP.
  • Get certified: take certification courses in penetration testing, ethical hacking, networking, and security. These certificates will increase your employment chances.
  • Look for a pentesting job: as a penetration tester, you can work within an organization or as a consultant.

Roles of a Pentester

When you get a job as a penetration tester, you can expect to take up the tasks below.

  • Testing networks and applications: this entails running simulation attacks and keeping existing tests up to date. Employers will also expect you to know how to apply penetration testing tools.
  • Testing physical security: your new role will include checking that servers can withstand non-cyber threats such as vandalism and climate effects. 
  • Carrying out security audits: this is another important role for every pentester. Your organization will expect you to examine networks and systems and write audit reports.
  • Writing security reports: you will have to write security reports with metrics and strategies to show your test results and recommendations.
  • Participate in security policy reviews: you will work with the larger security team in handling security policy reviews.

Your role as a pentester will involve reporting your findings and recommendations. Therefore, you need good communication and presentation skills to carry out this role effectively. Project management, problem-solving, and people management skills will also come in handy. 

Top 3 Dark Web Podcasts in 2020

in Deep Web
Dark Web Podcasts

The dark web can be very confusing. There is a lot of jargon and misinformation that makes it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, all hope is not lost. Besides the numerous online communities, there are also dark web podcasts that can help you learn more about the deep web, dark web, and darknet.

In this article, we introduce you to our top three favorite dark web podcasts that you can listen to in 2020.

Darknet Diaries

darknet diaries

Darknet Diaries is a podcast that was started in 2017 by Jack Rhysider. This podcast is dedicated to “covering true stories from the dark side of the Internet. Stories about hackers, defenders, threats, malware, botnets, breaches, and privacy.”

While Jack wanted for such a podcast to exist, he found out that there was none. That drove him to create the Darknet Diaries. The first episode for Darkent Diaries was aired in October 2017. For the most part, Jack worked alone on the first 40 episodes.

After the 40th episode, Jack got additional researchers, editors, writers and graphic designers to help with the work. Besides the Darknet Diaries, Jack also runs a tech and podcasting blog and has also appeared on several podcasts. Since its establishment, Darknet Diaries has produced over 60 episodes.

Cyber Talk Radio

Cyber Talk Radio

Cyber Talk Radio is another great darknet podcast that you can listen to. Brett Piatt is the host while James Woodward and Juan Diaz both work as producers for the podcast. The show is sponsored by Jungle Disk, LLC, which is a cybersecurity suite designed for small businesses. Bret, James, and Juan all work for Jungle Disk, LLC.

Cyber Talk Radio is a weekly podcast that focuses on computer security and the Internet. Their tagline is “From the dark web to your radio dial.”

With over 150 episodes under its belt, this show has also hosted guests for various episodes. With the guests, Brett has been able to host expert interviews on matters of cybersecurity.

The Dark Web Vlogs

Dark Web Vlogs

The Dark Web Vlogs is another exciting and thrilling deep web podcast. The podcast is hosted by an ex-CIA agent known as The Ghost. Today, The Ghost works as an Independent Operative focusing on mysterious and unbelievable cases. The host responds to requests to assist in some of the most bizarre cases that exist in the world. Individuals who reach out to the host do so because they cannot get help elsewhere or it is just not possible. In her podcast, she talks about these requests and how she helps the individuals. To ensure complete privacy, she does not use the real names of the people who reach out to her. The Ghost does her podcasts in the form of stories where she narrates the requests and the events that unfold once she accepts a request.

According to The Ghost, “These jobs are outrageous, mysterious, and unbelievable, from reaching out to other dimensions and worlds to other beings, as well as the paranormal, CERN, The Vatican, humanoid robots, and inner earth. Lizard People, Giants, Aliens and more.”

If you are looking for a thrilling podcast to listen to, The Dark Web Vlogs is a great place to start!

If you want to learn more about the dark web, you can read our article on the best dark web books or just keep browsing the Dark Web Journal.

5 Tips to Secure a Cybersecurity Internship in 2020

in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity Internship

Cybersecurity experts are in demand and companies are willing to pay top dollar for talented staff. One of the best ways of getting your foot into the door is by securing yourself a cybersecurity internship.

In this article, we will share 5 tips with you that can help you secure a cybersecurity internship in 2020.

Get Experience and Certifications

Although an internship presents a great opportunity for you to learn, top cybersecurity companies will lean more towards employees who have some basic level experience. As such, you need to know the basics and have some level of experience. This way, you walk into your internship ready to contribute. In addition, it is important that you pursue advanced certifications as a bare minimum.

One of the certifications that you can pursue is CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). If you can get more certifications, the better. Additional certifications will make you more desirable to any potential employer.

Network with Cybersecurity Professionals

cybersecurity internships

Even with an educational background in cybersecurity, you still won’t know it all. As such, an internship in cybersecurity provides you with an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the field. You need to be eager and ready to learn. One simple way of learning is by networking. Reach out to a few cybersecurity professionals who can share with you their experience in the field and what to expect.

This way, you will be able to gain valuable insights into the real world of cybersecurity. Besides the mentoring opportunities, you will get from these people, they can also be your referee when the time comes for you to get an internship.

Stay Up-to-Date on All Things Security

Make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in cybersecurity. Being proactive and taking it upon yourself to know what’s happening in the industry and providing an educated opinion on diverse issues in your field will help set you apart from other interns. Moreover, it will help you to gain a better understanding of your assignments and tasks as well as impress your manager. Take every security incident as an opportunity to ask the right questions and learn. This will serve you well in the long term.

Besides news, you can also follow cybersecurity podcasts that can help you understand the challenges and changes the cybersecurity industry is facing. You can easily set up Google alerts for different topics such as ‘cybersecurity’ or ‘data breaches’. You can also listen to cybersecurity podcasts on your commute to and from work. In addition, you can follow discussions on social networks such as Twitter, Reddit or LinkedIn.

Gain Experience Through Volunteer Work

There will never be a substitute for experience regardless of your level of education and certification. In scenarios where two potential candidates have the same certifications, the one with experience will in most cases always get the job. As such, even as you go through your studies, try to find opportunities to volunteer. Volunteering provides you with an opportunity to gain experience, which comes in handy when applying for internships. When it comes to volunteering, you can find a professor in your college or any other local college who specializes in IT security and offer your assistance.

Also, consider doing the same for companies. The easiest way is to volunteer for start-ups who may not be able to pay you but can offer immense learning opportunities. Besides, if you do a great job, they might just offer you an internship or even a job. And even if they don’t, you can add that volunteering experience to your resume as you continue searching for an internship.

Setup a Security Lab

If you can, it is advisable that you set up a security lab. This way, you can be able to gain some hands-on experience. Setting up your own security lab will provide you with a safe environment where you can mess around without worrying about the potential damage that you can cause.

Remember, no employer will want you testing hacking tools on their own network. This can easily get you fired in the event you screw something up. You can use some old computers, cheap wireless routers, and incorporate free open-source security tools. With this, you can learn how to test and secure networks. Moreover, there are tons of free open-source tools online that you can use to experiment within the safety of your own test network.

If you are keen on a cybersecurity job, you can read more on the ten entry-level security jobs to look out for. If you want some motivation to kickstart your career in cybersecurity, you can read our article on the top five cybersecurity jobs that pay well.

Top 5 Cybersecurity Careers That Pay Well in 2020

in Cybersecurity
cybersecurity careers

The rise in cybercrimes and security breaches around the world have increased the need for cybersecurity experts. As a result, cybersecurity careers have become one of the most lucrative professional paths in today’s marketplace.

In this guide, you will find a list of high-paying cybersecurity careers you could move into in 2020.

Lucrative Cybersecurity Careers

The following are some of the highest-paid cybersecurity jobs in 2020.

Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs)

As far as cybersecurity is concerned, chief information security officers have a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders. Most companies now store important records and valuable data online. Hence, the need to ensure there are no security loopholes.

Chief information security officers inspect and confirm that the security framework for the organization is up-to-date and reliable.

In 2020, many employers are ready to pay huge sums to persons who can effectively carry out these duties. Te pay usually depends on the specific job description stated by the employer. However, CISOs would usually receive between $185,000 – $500,000 per annum.

Cybersecurity Systems Engineer

Cybersecurity systems engineering is another well-paid cybersecurity career path. A cybersecurity systems engineer has the responsibility of designing, developing, and installing security features and networks that can block off cyber attacks and online security threats.

With enough experience as a systems engineer, you develop specific transferrable skills. These skills can help you begin a career in cybersecurity engineer, security architect, cybersecurity analyst, and related career paths. Once you’ve got what it takes to do the job well, you’re likely to have many clients coming to you.

Their salaries are between $115,000 and $200,000.

Ethical Hacking (also known as Penetration Testing)

Companies with valuable data would stop at nothing to ensure that their information is safe. One of the ways to test the susceptibility of an online network to cyber thieves is to carry out several vulnerability tests.

The penetration tester carries out a thorough test of the entire framework and sees whether there are any features or modules that can be breached.

After successfully going through the training and becoming an ethical hacker, you could be earning around $75,000 to $130,000.

Cybersecurity Consultants

Cybersecurity consultants have multifaceted job descriptions and are one of the most potentially lucrative cybersecurity careers. Essentially, they carry out assessments of individual cybersecurity structures and compare them to benchmarks. They also give recommendations on the best line of action to take, in cases of existing or possible cybersecurity threats.

This consultant should be able to communicate cybersecurity ideas in a way clients and other professionals can understand and execute. Asides from communicating ideas, a cybersecurity consultant should be able to produce useful cybersecurity modules like data encryption and firewalls.

Cybersecurity consultants get paid between $81,000 and $120,000.

Software Security Engineer

The services of a software application security engineer are critical to companies that are primarily technology-based. The software security engineer basically would ensure that the applications consistently follow the latest security and privacy protocols.

If companies continue to build internet-based applications (which would most likely be), then more professionals in this niche are a necessity. Currently, a software security engineer takes home between $119,000 and $180,000.

Today, there are several opportunities for qualified individuals who take up any of the above-listed cybersecurity careers.

10 Entry Level Cybersecurity Jobs You Could Start in 2020

in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity Jobs

In this guide, you will discover a list of entry level cybersecurity jobs that you could apply for to start your IT security career in 2020.

A Rise in Demand for Cybersecurity Professionals

Information security is an important part of the operational infrastructure of any organization. Information security is the practice of defending data, networks, programs, and devices from malicious attacks.

Entry Level Cybersecurity Jobs

Considering the growing number of digital threats, it is no wonder the field of cybersecurity is flourishing. It is one of the most in-demand careers today.

As predicted by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, entry-level cybersecurity jobs are expected to grow by 18% through 2024. This growth makes information security an interesting and lucrative career choice. The average annual salary for cybersecurity entry-level job in the United States is $74,324, according to ZipRecruiter.

Requirements for entry-level jobs and projected pay vary depending on the employer and the region. An individual is expected to hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field to land an entry-level cybersecurity job. Most jobs also require one to three years of work experience.

Below, you will find ten entry-level jobs available for people looking forward to starting a career in cybersecurity.

Junior Penetration Tester

Often known as ethical hackers or pen testers, penetration testers defend the system or network against any vulnerabilities. They do this by trying to detect and exploit any vulnerabilities the threat might use.

Other roles include planning and conducting evaluation tests, reporting on actual or potential weak spots, keeping up to date with current cybersecurity threats, and programming software to help with penetration.

Information and Security Analyst

Information and security analyst is one of the most popular listings available for entry-level cybersecurity jobs. They are in charge of preventing and detecting cyber attacks.

They also monitor the computer network of an organization regularly to ensure that no-one has infiltrated them. Analysts investigate any security incidents that occur and address them.

Security System Administrator

Data security administrators are primarily concerned with securing and protecting a company’s databases from unauthorized access.

They are responsible for network, mobile, and desktop security. They are also responsible for troubleshooting, administrating, and installing an organization’s security solutions.

Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks. They fix malfunctions within computer hardware and software. Their role also involves making sure all equipment and software are up-to-date. That is to ensure the safety of the company’s network.

Junior Security Engineer

A security engineer is responsible for designing security systems. Unlike the security analyst whose duty is identifying issues within a system, it is the job of a security engineer to build a solution to the problem identified by the security analyst.

They are responsible for the design and implementation of the best strategies to prevent unauthorized access to a system’s internal network.

Security Architect

A security architect is responsible for testing, designing, implementing, overseeing and building security systems for an organization.

They anticipate feasible security threats and identify areas of weakness in a network system. Additionally, they ensure that those systems for combating hacker intrusions, DDoS attacks, as well as malware are working properly.

System Administrator

A system administrator is in charge of day-to-day operations and maintenance of an organization’s computer system.

These professionals also maintain networks, operating systems, security tools, business applications, web-servers, etc.

Network Security Analyst

Network security analysts monitor and protect a network from malicious attacks. They monitor networks to detect unusual or hostile activities and take actions to prevent malicious attacks on the system, such as the deployment of firewalls.

In addition, they design and implement safeguards and communicate security issues to management.

Cybercrime Analyst

These are security professionals employed to help counteract the activities of cybercriminals. These criminals include hackers and malicious software developers.

To be effective at their role, cybercrime analysts need an understanding of how malware can infiltrate a system. Similarly, there’s also the need to know methodologies behind digital forensics.

Security software developer

A security software developer is responsible for developing security software, as well as incorporating security into software during design and development. These developers ensure that the company’s network has security components. They do this by developing tools such as malware detectors, spyware, intrusion detection and more.

With the new variants of malware developed every year, employers are looking for staff who can help reduce risk, manage data safely and convey security needs to managers and other employees.

The Password List: Top 10 Most Common Passwords You Should Avoid

in Hacking/Privacy
password list

We all know that you cannot use a weak and predictable password. It makes it easy for hackers to access your account. In this guide, you will be presented with a password list of the top ten most common passwords that you should absolutely avoid.

Top 10 Password You Should Avoid

Number Passwords

There are a lot of numeric numbers that are highly predictable. A good example is using numbers in sequences such as 1234, 1234567, 123456, 12345678, 123456789.

Also, avoid using numeric numbers with repeated digits as your password. For instance, 111111, 000000, 7777, 2000, 1212. These are very predictable!

Additionally, avoid combining these digits with repeated alphabets. A hacker trying to get access to your account can gain access with these predictable numbers through specialized software.

Computer Keyboard Sequence

Do not use any password that can be easily detected on the keyboard. For instance, qwerty, qwertyuiop, zxcvbnm, or asdfghjkl. Do not also use any of these in all capital or all lower case form.

The passwords are selected from a single roll on the keyboard and can be easily predicted.

Popular Alphanumeric Passwords

most common passwords

This includes passwords with a mixture of both numbers and alphabets. Although, a strong mix of these two can help secure your account, using predictable alphanumeric passwords can ruin your accounts. Some of these passwords include abc123, 123abc, trustno1, password1, welcome1.

The above-mentioned passwords were among the most widely used passwords in 2012, according to a report by CNN.

Alphanumeric passwords are fast becoming popular because some sites and accounts made them mandatory. The idea behind this is to build a strong password and not to use very common ones.

Craft a good alphanumeric password and store this in your password list so that whenever you forget, you can easily access it on your list.

“Password”

This might sound a bit weird but it is very common. Many people think by using “password,” either in all cap or lowercase or with “@,” it would help secure their accounts. This is a lie. In fact, if “password” is your password, it is advisable you change it immediately. It is very easy to guess the password of an account stored with the word “password.”

Hobbies And Common Sports

Names of hobbies and sports are highly predictable. If a hacker has personal information about you, your hobbies or choice of sports would be among his or her first few predictions. Avoid using your hobby, your sport or any popular sport as your password.

Animal Names or Nature Words

This is similar to using a hobby or sport. A lot of people use their favorite pet or animal as their password. This alongside nature words should be avoided. Avoid passwords like tiger, lion, monkey, dolphin, sunshine, lake, winter, trees.

Most often than not, many people’s favorite pet is usually the same as others. Hence, it is advisable not to use this as your password.

Pet Names or Children’s Name

This is another highly predictable password. Do not use your pet names or the name of those in your life. Your general lifestyle and family would be among the first few passwords guessed by hackers. Avoid using words from these aspects of your life as your password.

Passwords Related To Login Words

Passwords related to login words like enter, login, letmein, admin, pass, access and so on should be avoided as this might be a quick guess for hackers or unauthorized access.

Obscene Words

People often choose obscene words related to sex as passwords because they think this aspect would be avoided by anyone trying to predict their passwords. This is usually not the case.

In fact, passwords with swear words and obscene words ranked as one of the most common passwords.

Other Common Passwords

Passwords like master, superman, shadow, 696969, michael, dragon, hunter, harley, buster, and so on should be avoided.

To stay safe, choose a complex password for your account and store it in your password manager’s password list. It is preferable to have a mix of alphanumeric, big and small capital letters in your password. Also, for accounts that have sensitive information like an internet bank account, you should use a unique password different from the ones you use for social logins.

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