No two stories are exactly the same and people come to the industry from a multitude of backgrounds. Here we want to highlight the potential routes into the industry, as well as share advice to help prospective security professionals along their journey.
Today we're looking at Ryan's (Parrot’s) story.
How did you get started in cybersecurity? When did you first become interested in hacking?
I was first introduced to hacking through a friend who was interested in it. I've always had a curious mind and love to learn, so I started asking him questions. He told me about Linux, password cracking software, and programming languages. Hearing this sparked an interest, and I was ready to start exploring hacking myself.
I started by learning my way around Linux through a program called Crouton. Crouton is a bash script that allows you to dual boot Linux distros on Chromebooks. My very first Linux distro was Debian 9.
I learned a lot, and eventually moved to Kali Linux. I started posting about my journey on Instagram, which is where I found the start of a community of hackers just like myself. I met a lot of interesting and cool people through Instagram. Some of them I talked to, and others gave me new ideas through their posts. For example, one day, I saw someone using Parrot OS, so I checked it out and fell in love.
More recently, I started learning about hacking and offensive security. It started with completing a few courses, and from there, I began to practice the discipline, and currently, I'm reading three books by @Cyberarms.
I also have a YouTube channel under the name parrotassassin15. Since I love to learn, I figured this would be an excellent place to teach other people what I've learned and hopefully grow the hacking community further.
Learning about hacking is cheap. I didn't start with much knowledge at all, and I didn't have a lot of money at the beginning either, so that shows how affordable it is to teach yourself.
However, it hasn't all been plain sailing. There have been some rough patches and discouraging moments along the way in my hacking journey. Being faced with a Hack The Box challenge you can't solve is disheartening, for example. In my opinion, being in the cybersecurity field takes a lot of persistence and determination, but it's doable and rewarding. Hey, if I can do it, you can too.
What do you like the most about the cybersecurity community?
Lots of things! You never run out of new things to learn because cybersecurity and cyber threats are always evolving, and being a part of the community keeps you in the know. And there's someone around who knows that thing you're stuck on when you need help. Lastly, I love how friendly and welcoming the community is. I've met some great people, and I'm sure I'll meet many more
What skills do you think are important to be successful in cybersecurity?
Well, I think learning a bit of everything is the best approach. But definitely learn Linux skills, a bit of networking, and learn a bit about the tools you have in your toolbox. I also think it's essential to have good social skills, especially for social engineering. And the most important skill I believe everyone should have is admitting when you don’t know something and studying that topic. There's no shaming in not knowing; it's how we learn and become better ethical hackers.
What types of resources have you found most useful for learning security? (Videos, courses, blogs, qualifications)
I mostly relied on YouTube, Udemy, and books for my learning. It comes down to how you like to learn. If you find it hard to sit down with a book and focus page after page because your mind starts to wander, then books might not be the best option for you. If you're more of a visual learner, you might find videos more useful.
There are many ways to learn; you just have to find the right one for you.
Here is a list of my favorite creators:
If you could give our readers one piece of advice on how to be safer online, what would it be?
Enable two-factor authentication and use strong passwords. The most straightforward steps are often the strongest steps. It's also good to check places like haveibeenpwned.com to see if your password has been leaked. Make sure to pentest your own networks as well. And make sure to keep up with the latest hacks so you can apply the patches as soon as they come out. Lastly, make sure to keep your stuff up to date. From phones to your Windows 10 machine, it helps more than you realize