How young upstarts can get their big security break in 6 steps
Companies crave experience in their security staffers, dimming prospects for entry-level applicants. Bill Brenner on how a young upstart can break through.
By Bill Brenner , Senior Editor
April 24, 2010 — CSO —
If you're young, breaking into the security industry can be hell.
Companies have either suffered a data security breach or live in fear of one. So when they're hiring new IT security personnel, they want years of experience. If you're fresh out of college, that's a problem.
Another problem is that security practitioners are control freaks by nature. They have to be, if you stop and think about it. They have a huge responsibility, and delegating some of the work to younger pups is a lot to expect.
But here's the problem: The future of information security is in the hands of the youth. That may seem a cliched statement; so obvious it sounds stupid. But it's a fact.
Also see CSOonline.com's Security Basics page for fundamentals in network security, business continuity, security management, and much more
This column isn't an invitation for young upstarts to cry and lament about the disadvantages they have. Instead, it's about a few things you can do to break through and make it in the industry. Think of it as suggestions for becoming a security rock star, which you almost have to be to make a difference these days.
This morning I'm at Security B-Sides Boston, listening to a talk from someone who is fighting this battle right now. Joseph Sokoly, a security analyst at NetBoundary, recently gave a talk at the Austin, Texas B-Sides event about the troubles of being young in the security industry. This time, he's in Boston giving an update on where his career trajectory has taken him in the weeks since then.
He has found that breaking into the security community is not nearly as hard as it first seemed. In fact, his career got a big boost simply because he had the guts to stand up in front of people and give his talk. "Giving the talk in Austin helped me tremendously," Sokoly said. "It has opened doors. My being here is a result of that. First, the positive reaction from the community encouraged me not just to listen but to speak again."
"Being proactive works. Put yourself out there and things will open up, but speaking doesn't have to be it. Use Twitter. Start blogging," Sokoly said. He's absolutely right.
His suggestion young security practitioners speak up and force others to take notice isn't a new concept. But it's advice that too few people take.