Ask the Expert

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I’d like to find work as an infosec professional but alas, I have no background in computing. Nevertheless, I requested financial aid from my employer for training and exams to help me become proficient in this subject matter, and have been denied support. Classes in this subject are too expensive for me to fund myself; books appear to become outdated very quickly. How would you recommend that I pursue this goal without spending any more than I have to? I’m intent on making this career change, but can’t afford a Cadillac solution.



- Bob J, Tustin, CA







With no computer background, you’ve got a long way to go to get where you want and need to be. I’d suggest that you start out by working on the CompTIA A+ and Network+ certifications–you need not necessarily get those credentials, but you will want to learn the material involved to make sure you’re ready to deal with elementary infosec topics, tools, concepts, technologies, and terminology.



After that, I suggest you visit and search on “security bookshelf” (omit the quotes) from the home page. Look for a two-part bibliography on the best books related to infosec topics, which are entitled “Security Bookshelf, Part 1” and “Security Bookshelf, Part 2.” Start with the Dieter Gollman and Kaufman/Perlman/Speciner general infosec textbooks and begin working your way through that list.



Once you’ve got 3 or 4 of those books under your belt, you can start thinking about an introductory infosec certification. I recommend the CompTIA Security+ as the best place to start. After that, you’ll be able to follow your interests and the market without my help.



The total cost for A+, Network+ and Security+ is about $625 for exams and another $450 for books and practice exams. That’s not a terrible cost to bear over the 12-18 months it will probably take you to do this work ($1075 over 12 months is about $90 a month; over 18 months, it’s about $60 a month).



Good luck and best wishes! You’ll have to put in some serious time and effort to reach your goals, but you can do it.



-Ed Tittel, president of LANWrights, Inc

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