Is Cybersecurity Hard to Learn? 9 Tips for Success

Pursuing a career in cybersecurity can present a rewarding challenge with the right mindset.

Whether cybersecurity is difficult to learn will depend on your perspective. If you’re curious about technology, enjoy the thrill of solving complex problems, and embrace learning new things, you could find cybersecurity an engaging and worthwhile challenge to pursue.

If you’re considering a career in the industry, it’s normal to feel intimidated by the prospect of learning (and keeping up with) the technical skills involved. Some of these skills may be challenging, but with the right mentality and action plan, and with the convenience of securing a online cybersecurity degree, you can build a foundation for a rewarding and in-demand job.

As you develop the skills necessary for a cybersecurity career, remember to consider these helpful tips.

1. Build a foundation with an introductory course

Signing up for a cybersecurity course provides an opportunity to develop basic skills in a structured setting and gain firsthand experience in the field. This helps you evaluate if a career in information security matches your personal goals and interests.

Topics covered in an introductory cybersecurity course may include:

  • Understanding cybersecurity tools and attack vectors
  • Comprehending security compliance and industry standards
  • Exploring operating system, network, and data security measures
  • Learning about incident response protocols
  • Delving into penetration testing methodologies
  • Studying cyber threat intelligence

Embarking with a broad overview enables a clearer understanding of your current skill set, your preferred specialization within cybersecurity, and the skills necessary to pursue your desired career trajectory.

2. Evaluate your passion for technology

Distinguishing between difficult and challenging is crucial when approaching the learning journey in cybersecurity. While mastering cybersecurity concepts can pose challenges, it doesn’t necessarily have to be inherently difficult, especially for those who harbor a passion for technology. Cultivating a genuine curiosity for the technologies at hand can often transform daunting challenges into manageable tasks.

Merely engaging in the process of learning can ignite a sense of enthusiasm for the subject matter. For individuals who thrive in communal environments, immersing oneself in a community of like-minded security professionals can further fuel this enthusiasm (Tip 7).

It’s entirely possible that after delving into a course or two, you might realize that your true passions lie elsewhere—and that’s perfectly acceptable. While cybersecurity offers an exhilarating, intellectually stimulating, and financially rewarding career path, it’s essential to acknowledge that it may not resonate with everyone.

3. Learn a little every day

Developing cybersecurity skills doesn’t necessitate abandoning your current commitments for a degree or intensive bootcamp. Consistently dedicating a small portion of time each day can yield significant outcomes. Begin by allocating just 15 minutes daily to concentrate on cybersecurity, ensuring to schedule this learning session at a consistent time each day.

In addition to establishing a regular learning routine, it’s beneficial to plan specific objectives for each session. Whether it’s watching lecture videos, completing quizzes, or reading designated chapters, setting clear and achievable goals helps maintain focus and progress.

4. Become an ethical hacker

Getting hands-on experience is a great way to learn. In cybersecurity, ethical hacking lets you use industry tools and methods firsthand.

Numerous free platforms provide legal, gamified experiences to enhance your cybersecurity expertise. Consider starting with these platforms:

  • Hack the Box
  • me
  • Hack This Site
  • WebGoat

As you progress in skill development, exploring bug bounty programs can be advantageous. These programs offer financial rewards to independent security researchers who identify and report security vulnerabilities. Participating not only allows you to apply your skills in real-world scenarios but also facilitates networking opportunities within the security community.

5. Practice in simulated environments

Numerous cybersecurity courses incorporate virtual labs, allowing students to apply their skills with real security tools in simulated environments. While these built-in labs offer convenience within a structured course, you can further enhance your practice by establishing your own virtual lab.

A fundamental lab setup generally comprises three components:

  • A cloud environment to host virtual machines.
  • A target machine, serving as the entity to launch attacks against.
  • An attack box, designated for planning and executing attacks.

By creating your own virtual lab, you gain greater flexibility and control over your learning environment, enabling extensive practice and experimentation.

6. Mix it up with workplace skills

When you need a breather from honing technical expertise, allocate time to enhance your workplace skills.

As a cybersecurity professional, effectively communicating intricate concepts to non-technical individuals is a common requirement. Additionally, collaborating across various teams, such as legal or public relations, is often necessary. Many cybersecurity positions demand quick decision-making abilities, making critical thinking skills highly sought after by hiring managers.

Numerous resources, ranging from books to blogs to podcasts, are available for refining workplace skills.

7. Get involved in the cybersecurity community

Immerse yourself in a community of like-minded individuals passionate about cybersecurity. Participating in forums or online communities not only provides a space to ask questions and seek motivation but also facilitates networking and potential job discovery. If you’re hesitant about joining a professional organization, consider starting with Reddit, where you can explore popular subreddits such as:

  • r/cyber for staying updated on global cybersecurity news
  • r/cybersecurity for discussions on general cybersecurity subjects, including Mentorship Monday
  • r/CyberSecurityJobs for accessing job listings and engaging in job-related discussions

8. Earn a certification

Studying for a cybersecurity certification exam serves as a valuable method to enhance your skill set. Moreover, earning a certification can bolster your resume and elevate your competitiveness as a job applicant. According to HR Dive, 67 percent of IT employers prioritize candidates with industry certifications.

9. Apply to companies that provide training

Given the ever-evolving nature of cybersecurity threats and technologies, continuous learning is essential for success in the field. As you pursue a career in cybersecurity, prioritize companies that prioritize ongoing training initiatives. Not only can this save you money, but it also allows for professional development during work hours, potentially at the company’s expense.

Inquiring about training opportunities during interviews showcases your commitment to continual learning and can leave a positive impression on potential employers.