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entry-level or intermediate

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unicityd

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Post Thu Sep 04, 2008 5:05 pm

entry-level or intermediate

I'm planning to start applying for some security jobs soon and I'm hoping for a little advice.  I have never had a full-time security job, but I have had security responsibilities and would (ideally) like to land an intermediate-level position. 

Is this possible, or do I need to put in some time in an entry-level position first?

My justification for wanting to do this is that I think my technical skills are much more in line with an intermediate-level position.

I have 6 years of full-time experience in networking, programming, and IT management.  My responsibilities have included managing an IDS and performing product security testing.

I'm Security+ certified and plan to pickup the C|EH soon.  I've taken Foundstone's Ultimate Hacking: Expert course.

I've published several articles (in print) on buffer overflows and other security topics and have also contributed to several Wikipedia articles.  I can write exploits and shellcode and can use advanced techniques to bypass StackGuard, PointGuard, no-exec, ProPolice, etc.  I can also find and exploit other vulnerabilities such as as SQL injection and XSS.  About eight years ago, I reported several vulnerabilities on Bugtraq.  I spoke at Defcon around the same time. 

I know TCP/IP really well and have spent hundreds of hours analzying traffic with tcpdump, Ethereal, Wireshark, and Snort.  I've created a lot of custom traffic (for product security testing) using Hping2, Packit, Nmap, fragroute, and my own protocol fuzzers .  One of my work projects required me to analyze and qualify signatures for Snort and the Cisco IDS.  I documented dozens of the signatures in the Snort project.

I've been using Unix for 14 years and can comfortably manage BSD, Linux, and HP-UX.  I have some Windows server experience (and a lot of desktop), but no Active Directory.  I have experience with Cisco routers and switches, HP switches, and Foundry layer-4 devices.  I'm comfortable with Unix firewalls but have no hands-on experience with commercial firewalls.

My knowledge comes mostly from personal projects and reading--I've read more than a thousand articles and conference/journal papers on security (and hacking) over the last ten years.

So, what should I aim for?

If you think I'm getting ahead of myself, say so.  If I should go for an intermediate-level job, how do I get past HR?
BS in IT, CISSP, MS in IS Management (in progress)
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LSOChris

Post Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:52 pm

Re: entry-level or intermediate

looks like you know the answer to you own question.

if you posses the knowledge you say you do then i wouldn't take an junior level job.  That knowledge should be demonstrable on your resume to links to your talk on your personal webpage or out on the net.
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Grendel

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Post Thu Sep 04, 2008 9:56 pm

Re: entry-level or intermediate

I wouldn't hesitate to look for intermediate-level security positions.  It would be beneficial if you had additional certs to get past HR filtering, but if you look for smaller companies you can often get past that - large  companies are a completely different beast.

The 6 years of experience doing IDS is enough to qualify you for something other than entry-level slots, even if it was part time.  Getting into a Sr. position is much tougher, though... just keep that in mind and keep improving your skill set.  Also, load up on HR fodder (disclaimer:  I don't think certs prove anything, but it does get interviews, whether people like to admit it or not... so just bite the bullet and get the certs).
- Thomas Wilhelm, MSCS MSM
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Web Site:
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  • Professional Penetration Testing
  • Ninja Hacking
  • Penetration Tester's Open Source Toolkit
  • Metasploit Toolkit for Penetration Testing
  • Netcat Power Tools
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unicityd

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Post Fri Sep 05, 2008 2:26 am

Re: entry-level or intermediate

Thanks guys.  I appreciate the assessment.  I wanted to make sure I wouldn't be wasting my time. 

I realized after reading ChrisG's response that I really needed a website that I can send potential employers to so I set up a site on Google with my resume, publications, and a personal statement.  I hope it helps.

Regards.
BS in IT, CISSP, MS in IS Management (in progress)
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oneeyedcarmen

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Post Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:00 pm

Re: entry-level or intermediate

I'm in a "less-than-junior" role, and your description of what you've done and know made me feel, well, extra-junior  :-\
Reluctant CISSP, Certified ASS
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don

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Post Fri Sep 05, 2008 2:31 pm

Re: entry-level or intermediate

Welcome to EH-Net. About all I can say is that Chris said it best:

looks like you know the answer to you own question.


Go for it,
Don
CISSP, MCSE, CSTA, Security+ SME
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unicityd

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Post Fri Sep 05, 2008 4:28 pm

Re: entry-level or intermediate

oneeyedcarmen wrote:I'm in a "less-than-junior" role, and your description of what you've done and know made me feel, well, extra-junior  :-\


Well, I certainly didn't intend to make anyone feel down.  I've been working at this for more than ten years; there just aren't any security jobs (zero) within an hour of where I live.  I wanted to know where I stood.

Oneeyedcarmen, I do wish you the best in your endeavours.
BS in IT, CISSP, MS in IS Management (in progress)
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LSOChris

Post Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:05 pm

Re: entry-level or intermediate

time to move?
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silxp

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Post Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:32 pm

Re: entry-level or intermediate

I will tell you a briefer of my history, where I've been and where I'm at...

I've been working in IT since 1992 professionally. I've worked on Everything from AS/400, Solaris, Trusted Solaris, BSDi, Free|Open|NetBSD (in professional environments), Linux (all flavors), QNX (professionally) on the systems side. On the networking side, Cisco, Juniper, Foundry, Redback, Sycamore, Bay Networks, Alcatel, Lucent, Nokia and enough to make some shed tears at retro equipment.. Security... I've written my own VoIP IDS/IPS, Enough tools to fill two to three Wikis

I'm currently assisting in creating the OWASP certification (http://www.owasp.org/index.php/Category ... quirements) ctrl-f Oquendo

Anyhow... Intermediate means nothing really... What is it you REALLY want to do? Regardless of a commercial firewall, no matter the brand, a firewall is a firewall is a firewall. I've used everything from TIS FWTK, Netscreens, Checkpoint, Sidewinders, and again, enough to make people puke from so many names... Understanding a protocol means a lot more than understanding a specific. For example, waste one year of your life studying for the CCSA/E and what do you have...? Wow... Checkpoint Certified blah blah,... Will mean nothing if you don't understand the mechanisms of how the firewall itself is blocking on the OSI layer.

Learn for the sake of learning, understand as much as you can with a focus on what YOU WANT TO LEARN, not with what cert is popular. I've seen far too many a certified individual without a clue, and have seen uncertified insanely smart/scary people... As someone who interviews others constantly, I don't care about certs, I care more about experience someone has, how much they understand...

Let me give you one of my favorite questions I ALWAYS ask *nix based "experts"... "You're being attacked by a machine at 10.10.20.5 how would you block them on Linux without using a firewall" ... Most don't even understand the concept of why I ask them this and have YET to find someone I've interviewed give the correct answer... How about... nullrouting them, hosts.deny, there are other ways of doing things, and this is what truly makes someone stand out - versatility.

I currently am on vacation from working since I need a break from things... I've had the opportunity to work at an ISP, a University, the banking industry, contracting @ Big Blue, a VoIP provider, to name a few. I never tell myself "I don't know" and spend far too much time learning whatever it is I can... I could really care less about certs since I'm comfortably experienced. Currently I'm entertaining an offer from BT for pentesting, but I truly feel I need a year break from the industry...

I've gotten offers from Google, Yahoo, and who knows how many security companies WITHOUT having uber CISSP, CISM, CISA certs and have only started getting certs since the company I was recently at wanted me to get them.... So again... Why ask others to make up your mind for you... What is it YOU WANT to do... Make that choice on your own, and focus on it.... Right now I could move to any industry as a network engineer - I've 10+ years professional of Cisco, etc., as a systems engineer - +14 years various OS experience, as a security engineer +10 years PROFESSIONAL experience pentesting, firewall engineering, implementation, administration... As a security manager - been there done that...

Versatility is key... What DO YOU want to do... Not "what should I do... make up my mind for me..." The key is to enjoy doing what you want to do, figure out what you enjoy more, write them down (literally on a paper) and determine in order which is best/fun, from first to last. Make the pros and cons, and go from there. I can tell you straight up, money isn't everything and I've taken less to stay happier. Do what makes you feel better, what feels right to you... My advice
OSCP, C|EH, CNDA, CHFI, SGFA, SGFE
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RoleReversal

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Post Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:39 am

Re: entry-level or intermediate

silxp wrote:... My advice


is good advice ;) thanks for sharing
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dalepearson

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Post Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:09 pm

Re: entry-level or intermediate

I think everyone has covered most things, but I will add one thing.

Believe in yourself and sell yourself at the level you feel appropriate and be positive. If you find your not getting the right interest or response, then perhaps rescope what your looking at.

All the best though.

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