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Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

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anotheruser

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Post Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:40 am

Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

So this is the usual sort of 'I'm looking for advice' thread.  My specific questions though are about how/where I can get started in offensive computing when I already have a TS clearance (EDIT: And I am in the US).  I'm in my 20's, but have been using computers since floppies were floppy, so I have a wide but shallow background (smattering of knowledge in some languages, some networking stuff, but nothing to impress).  

So does anyone else have experience in Top Secret jobs? Specifically, I guess, what do they need, and what might be a "ok, you can learn that on the job since you have a clearance" sort of thing.  

I talked to one company that was very interesting, and they seemed to scoff at certifications (they poo-pooed CEH as likely to be out of date once completed) so I am currently not too concerned with certifications.  Is this folly, or is this a cross-industry attitude?

Right now I am setting up some virtual machines and going to look through crackmes.de (which I saw here, in a post by SynJunkie - Thanks!) I was thinking to supplement this with other tutorial/poke around packages I find in the Tutorial section in the forums, and free books.  Is this a good way to learn? Any other tips or ways that have worked for you?

Also, what other sites do you recommend? This might just devolve into a favorites posting, but winnowing down the field of sites I've collected from here would be appreciated.

Thanks for the read-through and any advice! Also, if this post is scattered please feel free to ask questions, I am still pretty scattered and trying to figure all this out.
Last edited by anotheruser on Sat Sep 26, 2009 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ketchup

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Post Sat Sep 26, 2009 12:37 pm

Re: Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

Welcome to the forums.  First, I am going to have to steal this quote :D

since floppies were floppy


Just because one company may not be interested in certifications, other may be.  I would not dismiss certs that easily.  Besides, even if you don't get the cert, you gain valuable practical knowledge, especially with something like OffSec courses.

I am assuming that you are in the United States, if this is not correct, please let us know.  With TS clearance, you can obviously look for government jobs.  When I was researching this, I was using the usajobs.com website.  They have a pretty decent job agent that sends jobs.  There are entry level and very high end jobs as well.

Regarding picking up knowledge, not much changes with or without security clearance.  I would still recommend that you become proficient in several languages, C/C+, ASM, PHP, Perl, Python, Shell Scripting, etc.  Read anything and everything.  I am a huge fan of using the vast online collection of hacking missions to further your knowledge.  There are a ton out there, like overthewire.org, hackmysite.org, etc. Build and play with your own lab.  There are great resources here that will help you with this.  Just search the forums.  Also read the similar posts regarding starting out.  People have mentioned many great resources.

Good luck!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ketchup
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anotheruser

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Post Sat Sep 26, 2009 6:19 pm

Re: Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

Thanks for the reply/help!
Yeah, I sort of figured the one company that (says they) put no weight on certs was a fluke...
I'm definitely glad to have found this site and I bet I'll be using it a ton, like you recommend.  Thanks for the motivation and the advice.
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UNIX

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Post Sun Sep 27, 2009 2:50 pm

Re: Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

Welcome to the forums.
As already written by Ketchup, having a certification is certainly better than having it not - even if your current company may not be interested in them, maybe another will be.
Building your own lab and practicing in it is a good start and will probably increase your knowledge in some areas. Another thing which could help you is writing down your goals and whats necessary in order to achieve them.
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unsupported

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Post Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:57 am

Re: Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

My recommendation would be to checkout http://securityclearancejobs.com by Dice.  You can see what jobs are available in your area and what their job requirements are.

Good luck.
-Un
CISSP, GCIH, GCIA, C|EH, Sec+, Net+, MCP
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hiddenillusion

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Post Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:09 pm

Re: Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

You should also take a look at defense contractor's since you already have the security clearance.  Some of the bigger ones are :
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Boeing
  • Northrop Gruman
  • Raytheon
  • General Dynamics
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former33t

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Post Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:45 pm

Re: Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

My experience (even in the clearance venue) is that certs will get you in the door for an interview, but that's about it.  After that, you're on your own for the technical interview.  Every job I've had (with an without a clearance) I got in the door for the interview through a friend or because of certs/training and then got the job because of performance in the technical interview (sometimes hands on).

I'd do a cert or two if you have the time (don't go overboard), but focus more on knowledge.  And networking is key.  If you aren't on linkedin, get there.  That being said, you need to keep your clearance active, so take a less then ideal job in the mean time so your clearance doesn't age off.

Just my $.02.
Certifications: CREA, MCSE: Security, CCNA, Security+, other junk
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Dengar13

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Post Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:06 am

Re: Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

100% agree with the LinkedIn advice.  That is how I got my current job.  Recruiters will seek you out like one did for me.  And yes, I also agree that you shouldn't go overboard with certs.  They do get you in the door and that's it.  I have held a secret clearance and it was a prerequisite for an interview I had, but didn't get it because I was basically just starting out after I left the military.
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Former U.S. Marine and damn proud of it!
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anotheruser

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Post Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:16 pm

Re: Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

Certs to get in the door, check
and linkedin? cool, thanks for the advice, I have avoided it as just another darn social networking overload site, but I'll definitely check it out now...

Oh and another random question: what are some good keywords? I have been checking out the major defense sites, but have been troubling narrowing down the jobs. Still getting just a lot of IT maintenance jobs... I've used keywords like cyber, security, penetration, information assurance/IA, CEH, CISSP, other cert acronyms, embedded, assembly, real time. Any other good tips?  I suppose I am looking for a dynamic job, not one securing one site's system, but one securing/breaking many. (I think, heh - still figuring this out...)
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former33t

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Post Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:30 pm

Re: Starting out, but with a TS clearance?

Well, what are you really looking to do?  I know people who are hiring in the government for folks with security clearances.  Many of the security jobs in the government are compliance based jobs and are largely paperwork.  They don't require assembly.

I can't even say what I do, but its VERY hands on with security.  I got it internally after doing a job with application security design.  I ONLY got the job because I was already in the door and got noticed.  I wouldn't scoff at the IT maintenance jobs.  At least one contractor I worked for years ago brought almost all their people in that way.  Either that or REALLY high level.  They figured they could "grow" the middle ground better than they could hire it.

My $.02.
Certifications: CREA, MCSE: Security, CCNA, Security+, other junk

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