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Confused about future

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a1sporty15

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Post Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:16 am

Confused about future

Hello there, I'm 17 years old and a senior in high school. I recently got accepted into a pretty good university. And I decided to Major in Industrial technology: Specialization in Networking and to minor in Computer science. Last year I took AP computer science in school and Learned the JAVA language. I'm no expert but I know how to do many things. And this year I took the C++ class in my school. JAVA was my first language and picking up C++ was extremely easy for me. I'm way ahead in my class and classmates come to me for help. Now my major will be Networking technology (Industrial Tech: Networking) and that will not involve much programming. And now I ask you, is this a good major to go into? I hear that networking is the future, and that's where all the money is. All I'm really asking for is guidance. I am confused if this is what i should do. I'm 17 and I don't know how to hack. I Heard that if you're good with networking you're good with hacking. And I'm not. Although I am very tech savvy and very bright and well rounded. What should I do to have successful future and good paying job. I enjoy working with computers I know how to do a lot of things people come to me with computers. Many people think that I know all there is to know about computers because they come to me with their problems and i can easily fix them little they know that you could never really know EVERYTHING there is to know about computers. Since i am not a hacker now will I have trouble in the future? Am I way behind? Or should I just start reading books about networking? I'm sorry for making this so long but I just had to get it there.
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KrisTeason

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Post Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:44 am

Re: Confused about future

Ah man, you sound just like me about last year. I took AP Computer Science at my school it was in Java as well, I'd go for the C++ Class but they didn't offer it in high school. It seems like for your age, you have some pretty stable background knowledge in programming. Just personally, I'd continue to pursue the roll of a computer science degree emphasizing in programming. Reason I say this is because, say you go into the job field, it'd be good to have programming knowledge on both sides. I asked my teacher a sort of similar question your asking here & he said say you have a passion for both, it'd be easier to move into the Security field coming from a programming background. This is true because if your going to be getting involved in Pen Testing later on you'll likely need the knowledge behind developing tools of your own & you'll need to understand how to break applications. This would be a pretty hard thing to do if you had no experience in programming. If you ask me, I'd say continue on doing programming, you have good knowledge in that area right now and if you know a little bit or nothing about "Hacking", I'd say educate yourself in that area on your spare time. Hope any of this is useful to you.
eCPPT (Silver/Gold), eWPT, GSEC, GISP, GCIH, OSCP, OSWP
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RoleReversal

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Post Sun Nov 30, 2008 5:40 am

Re: Confused about future

a1sporty15,

I guess I'm going to present the counter argument to Kris, I'd go with the networking, especially from a career perspective.

I know a lot of 'network guys'; on the whole the make a shed-load of cash, and if they're really good the job is easy because the network is solid, stable and doesn't break often (allowing them to impress the boss with a lot of work on command-line techie stuff, like IRC :D). I also know lots of really good and dedicated devs who get paid a pittance for their level of ability.

From a hacker/security perspective I'd say you need to know both. If you can't code you're going to struggle to understand, modify or create the tools you need to get the job done. Likewise if you don't understand networking then you're going to struggle to understand and implement some the the attack vectors. But you can get by with a little of everything depending on where and how tightly you want to specialise.

Additionally if you decide to practice the otherside once in work, programming only requires a compiler(or interpreter) and a text editor; it's slightly harder and pricier to get you hands on a corporate level network full of Cisco gear....

Ultimately go where you're passion is, it is going to be hard to keep up to date on any aspect of the IT industry over the next 10, 20, 30+ years of your career if you have little interest in the subject matter. Don't get too tied down with 'where you want to be' and go with 'oooh, cool....'. As a real world example, at your age I was intending to be an accountant (yes I know ;) ), ended up taking computing instead of IT due to a subject clash, sat through the first lecture on binary tree algorithms (sent 99% of the class to sleep) and never looked back.

If you enjoy it and are good at it you'll have a good career and salary opportunities whatever field you go for. (I was expecting to take a salary hit by turning away from accountancy to IT, but now earn more than a friend who stayed on with accountancy. I love my job, he hates his [and he's probably more intelligent than me to...])

Have fun & good luck.
RR
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hb21l6

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Post Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:08 am

Re: Confused about future

I’m no definitely no hacker and personally focus more on the security side and locking down systems. I would emphasize on the networking side as you will need to understand the equipment you’d find in an infrastructure. Fully understand the OSI model.. There’s too much to specify so I won’t bother. You will need development skills also for reasons mentioned in previous posts. Learn scripting as well, pearl, vbscript, jscript, etc.

As far as pay goes, it all depends on where you live! I’m in England and pay is cr*p up north, and it’s a lot better down south in both Dev and Networking.

Stick at it, and you’ll be fine
mcdba, mcse, ccna,
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pseud0

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Post Sun Nov 30, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Confused about future

If you're starting from scratch, why not look down the road a bit and figure out where the industry is going rather than trying to build your skills for where it came from?  There is nothing wrong with focusing on the network or coding sides of the house, but if you still have years to go before your going to be really active in "real world" security, then try to leap from over the whole mess and aim to develop skills that will be in demand in a few years.  Just as an example, start reading up on cloud computing.  Companies are moving over to these environments in a big way, but there are serious security concerns about the whole setup.  Just as there has been a natural progression in security from local systems to networked systems to applications to web apps, the next "big thing" will be massive shared resources.  (Where do you think Google, Amazon, Rackspace, etc are making the highest profit margins right now?) If I was in your position I'd avoid the temptation to be just another hacker, and see if I could be first into the box on these newer concepts.  Just my 2 cents.
CISSP, CISM, CISA, GCIH, GREM, CEH, HMFIC, KTHXBIROFLCOPTER
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RoleReversal

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Post Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:45 pm

Re: Confused about future

Looks like I'm in the mood to disagree today. Personally I'd avoid specialising in the newer technologies until you've got a wider understanding of the fundamentals. This gives a better understanding of exactly how you new fangled technology or paradigm is better than TheOldWaytm. Using Pseud0's example of cloud computing, for every business I now investing in it I know another writing it off as a marketing gimmick. There are always going to be new web #.0 technologies, but they are all (most likely) going to be built on top of the existing technologies of the day.

The only emerging trend I can see going the long haul is that of regulation and compliance, mostly because it is being mandated by governments everywhere.

That said these are just my opinions and personal preferences, few people become famous and stupidly wealthy by taking the safe option.... (I just like the safe option and knowing exactly where my next pay check is coming from and how large/small it will be)
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a1sporty15

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Post Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:30 pm

Re: Confused about future

Thank you all so much for your input!!! So does Industrial technology: specialization in networking and minor in computer sound good? or should i maybe switch them around? I also forgot to mention that I'm from Connecticut (north eastern part of the USA :P for all your foreigners) Thank you for all help guys I greatly appreciate it!
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pseud0

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Post Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:32 pm

Re: Confused about future

I think I need to clarify my response because I agree with RR's comment.  You still need to know the basics, I'm just suggesting that you keep your head up and looking down the road in order to figure out a better way to utilize what you know.  If you go out of your way to be the best security specialist in any one area, you are going to start boxing yourself in from a career perspective.  Guru's are always going to be in need and well employed, but if you make the trade off between learning that extra 1% of hard core tech knowledge in favor of picking up a bit more business knowledge, you'll probably reap significant rewards from the decision.  From a corporate perspective, in the rare occasion that they really a "l337 hax0r", they'll likely reach out a pull in a temporary resource to fill that role.  That's good news if you're a consultant or such and you just bounce from engagement to engagement.  However, if you work for a organization that's purpose is something other than just security (ie. you are in the security department of a normal business), then they will get more value out a of a person that is really good in multiple areas (security, business needs, regulatory/audit, DR, etc) rather than great in one specific area.  There are obvious exceptions, but this is just my observation from working with various clients.  Just sticking with the cloud computing example, your company would rely on you a lot more to provide insight into the pros/cons of moving in that direction, putting together the contracts/SLAs with the providers, and providing long term oversight/audit, etc, rather than hardcore pen testing of the resulting environment.  You still need to know all the concepts, but if you build your career around being the company "hacker guy", then you run a significant risk of having your position go to contractors or consultants.  If you can contribute to the business side, then you have value.  On that note, I'm going to eat leftover turkey.
CISSP, CISM, CISA, GCIH, GREM, CEH, HMFIC, KTHXBIROFLCOPTER
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Artful Dodger

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Post Mon Dec 01, 2008 10:06 am

Re: Confused about future

This can go on forever.  But I think the reality is to do what makes you happy when you wake up in the morning.  Most people in this business are not in it for the pay only.  I bet 99% of the people on this board are naturally curios people and like the “gee wiz” aspect of what they do.  Some like creating things.  Some like making things talk to each other.  The over all picture is do what gets you excited.  Even if that changes as you progress…just keep following your interest because you will get really good at it and become that “go to guy”. 

As far as your degree path – I am not sure it really matters what the degree title is.  I could be wrong, but I’ve never seen it be an issue.  As long as you get the classes you enjoy and are applicable to your path.  I have several degrees.  And after my first job, I don’t think they come up much.  I have an MBA, CS and engineering undergrad and a couple others.  I don’t think it would ever come up that my emphasis on engineering would come up.

I think the bottom line is find what you do well and what you enjoy and try to be the best at it.  The money and career will follow. 
CISSP, C|HFI, Security+, Network+, XYZ...blah.

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