Today I received a curious email. At first I thought it was spam, since the subject line was "RE: Help!", and I don't send emails with that subject line. Here is an excerpt:
I cannot afford nor have the time to take a full collage course on the topic of network security but I would like to be as knowlageable about it as yourself and be able to protect my computer and others regarding this matter. If I was willing to pay you would you take the time to teach me what you know and/or point me in the direction I would need to learn what you know about network security? Please advise what course I would need to take to accomplish your skill of network security?
In my opinion, it seems like this question seeks to learn some sort of "hidden truth" that I might possess, and acquire it in record time. The reality is that there are really no shortcuts to learning as complex a topic as digital security. I have been professionally involved with this topic for almost ten years, yet I consider myself halfway to the level of skill and proficiency I would prefer to possess. In another ten years I'll probably still be halfway there, since the threats and vulnerabilities and assets will have continued to evolve!
If you want to "know what I know," a good place to start is by reading one or more of my books. I recommend starting with Tao, then continuing with Extrusion and finishing with Forensics. Chapter 13 from Tao explicitly addresses the issue of security analyst training and development.
My company research page lists over a dozen documents I've written, and this blog is a record of almost four years of thoughts on digital security.
For books outside of my own, my top ten books of the last ten years contains some of the best books on digital security. My reading page shows books I recommend in five categories. I also show the books waiting to be read on my shelf, but I wouldn't consider an appearance there to be an endorsement unless I offer a favorable Amazon.com review. Please note my recommended lists do not include books from 2006 (and maybe 2005), but I plan to write a "best of" list at the end of this year. I'll update the recommendations lists if I have time.
In addition to reading, I highly recommend becoming familiar with the majority of the security tools listed by Fyodor. It also helps to specialize (at least in the beginning) in one of the five categories I show on my reading page.
I tend to split my time between Weapons and Tactics and Telecommunications, although I plan to continue developing my Scripting and Programming skills. I do some System Administration by building and operating network sensors and supporting systems (like databases), but I am not the sort of sys admin who supports users. I try to stay out of devoted Management and Policy work, although I try not to be ignorant.
I could probably say a lot more on this topic, but the bottom line is that there are no shortcuts to security knowledge. I hope this free post has been helpful.