There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building a security career, as evidenced by the diverse range of educational, professional, and personal experiences that its many practitioners have.
It's also impossible to predict which projects will teach you lessons you'll use later in a future security role. You could learn to better communicate with clients while working a help desk, or maybe you could gain the confidence to present your first security talk from a mentor at one of your first jobs.
When asked about his most valuable experience, Yair Silbermintz, lead backend developer at Aon, pointed to the time he implemented a new OAuth provider from scratch in an earlier role. He had implemented authentication before in a couple of systems, he says, but typically that involved wiring premade components or tweaking a small part of the authentication scheme.
"There were definitely roadblocks and also just a huge amount of small features I never really thought of the importance before," Silbermintz says. "Things like a nonce, which was just noise to me before, suddenly played a key role in keeping it secure." There were several items, he says, which he had "glazed over" as a developer but covered a pitfall in the auth process. He walked away from the experience knowing he could no longer ignore small features.
"If someone asked me for something small, even just a random string added to the end of a payload, I needed to fully understand why," he continues. "That extra level of understanding that I go for when working has really shaped my career."
We asked the cybersecurity community which experiences have been the most valuable in teaching them lessons they carried throughout their careers and what those lessons were. Here, 12 more infosec practitioners share their responses.
What was your most educational experience? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio