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12 Must-Haves To Become A Cybersecurity Expert And Earn Money

Behind technology is people, and in the area of cyber security, we need more of them. A question might arise in your mind, “Is there a shortage of skill in this field?” To this, my answer will be a big yes. How do we up-skill then? Well, as someone who has just started off in this field, I will highlighting a few points on which one can emphasise in case a person wants to get started off in this field. Additionally, any person, irrespective of their background, can enter the field of cyber security, provided they have a basic knowledge about computers.

Must-Have Technical Knowledge And Skills

I think a good understanding of the fundamental principles of networks, operating systems and database is very important. Beginners should understand the following concepts at a fair level:

1. TCP and UDP protocols, including how their headers look like and the functions of the different parts of these headers. For instance, if you don’t understand what is TTL value, then you will not grasp how traceroute works and why it doesn’t work in some networks. Similarly, without a good understanding of TCP flags, you would have a tough time figuring out how to get the most out of tools like Nmap.

2. IP, ICMP, DNS, ARP, RARP, FTP and HTTP are some of the other important foundational protocols of the internet. A strong know-how of how these protocols can help you get more out of various scanning tools and interpret their results more effectively.

3. A good book to get started with is Computer Networks by Tanenbaum. One of the other books that made me fall in love with networks and socket programming is UNIX Network Programming by W Richard Stevens, who also wrote the popular TCP/IP Illustrated series. I only did socket programming once as a paid assignment, but learning how to do this can clear up so many concepts related to networking.

4. Network architecture. The ability to read and analyse a network diagram is critical. The first time you look at a network diagram, it might seem overwhelming. My usual tactic is to simply ask the network administrator to walk me through the diagram. One of the easiest ways is to look for the Internet cloud in the diagram, traverse your way to the core switch and then to the other links. Once you’ve done this a few times, it becomes fairly easy. All networks are built up from the same elements — firewalls, switches, routers, WANs, LANs, VLANs, etc.

5. Firewalls. The first firewall I played around with was iptables on Unix, which was later called ipchains. Many commercial firewalls back in the day were built on top of ipchains. Nowadays, you not only have UTMs and Layer 7 firewalls, but also firewalling capability, which is present in the cloud via Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud, Security Groups, etc.

Systems Security

6. Windows knowledge is very important. Even if you love working on a Linux or a Mac system, many of the systems you’ll be attacking and securing will be Windows PCs and Windows servers. A good knowledge of start-up programs, the structure of the Windows registry, services, users and groups, file system access control, the Event Viewer, etc., are important.

7. Cleaning an infected system by hand is probably the best way to learn how malware infects a Windows system. Of course, you can do this only for low-tech malware and not file-less memory-only malware, but doing this repeatedly can quickly help you understand many important concepts about Windows security.

8. Unix is one of the most powerful operating systems. Grasping important security concepts such as startup programs, connecting open ports to running processes (say using lsof or netstat), knowing log locations and log formats, pluggable authentication modules, bash history, etc. will go a long way in trying to attack Unix system or escalate privileges. This is also very helpful when investigating a hacked Unix system. My favourite Unix fundamentals and security book is Practical Unix and Internet Security.

9. Among the popular databases — Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, etc. — I would suggest you play around with at least one of them. Again, numerous online and offline resources are available to learn the security principles of these technologies. Database security is one topic that tends to put off security professionals, but I feel it is one of the most important elements to be conversant with.

Application Security

10. The workings of web applications, basics of MVC frameworks, utility of stuff like AngularJS, etc. is important if you’re going to be able to test and secure web applications. But don’t stop there, it would be a good idea to explore the building blocks of Android and iOS mobile apps. To really understand iOS apps, you might need a Mac, but that should definitely not stop you from learning as much as you can theoretically. There’s tons of material on the official Google and Apple sites dedicated to Android and iOS — including security how-to’s.

11. APIs and containers. With the world having moved to DevOps and micro-services architecture, it is an added advantage if you’re also conversant with the workings of APIs and containers and their security risks. Again, you need not be an expert here, but a fair bit of working knowledge would definitely go a long way.

12. The OWASP Top Ten Web Application Security Risks is also a non-negotiable element of your repertoire. Being able to explain each of the Top Ten issues will go a long way in setting you apart from the crowd. Being able to explain the mitigation measures for each of the issues would nearly seal the deal during an interview.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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