Boring, boring, boring. Isn’t this what immediately comes to mind when one
sees books on foundational concepts of information security? Monotonous
coverage of theory, dry details of history, brief yet inadequate coverage of every
topic known to man, even though you know that you’ll never be hired by the
NSA as a cryptographer. All you really want is a book that makes you fall asleep
every 30 minutes instead of every five. It’s all the “necessary evil” that must be
endured, right? Not this time, my budding security professional.
So let’s be honest. You actually do have a strong interest in making security a
career and not just a hobby. Why else would you have this book in your hand?
But like many of you, I didn’t know (and sometimes still wonder to this day) what
I wanted to be when I grew up. So why this book? What’s so great about another
extensive volume on information security? How does it help me not only to learn
the basics but also to push my career aspirations in the right direction?
When my son was 4, I took him to the park down the road from our house.
There were kids playing baseball, others chasing their friends through the plastic
and metal jungle, and even a few climbing the fake rock-climbing wall. Then he saw the boys at the skateboard park. He had a board of his own but
never knew someone could do that! Of course, he wanted to try it immediately.
As a responsible Dad, I couldn’t let him launch himself off the top of
a 6-foot ramp only to end up unconscious waiting to be run over by the next
prepubescent wannabe Tony Hawk. But what I could do is require him to show
me that he could do something basic like stand on the board and ride it all the
way down the driveway at home. As a reward, he could go to the skate park.
Once there, he didn’t feel quite as comfortable as when on the driveway, so he
rode down the ramp while sitting. Eventually, he dictated his own path; he set
his own goals; he controlled the time it took to get where he wanted to be.
His path was different from many others at the park that day. But imagine if we
never went to the park. How about if he only saw a baseball being tossed and
no home runs? What if he didn’t even get to see the skate park, much less the
kids airing the gap? Knowing what is possible can drastically change one’s destiny.
And so it is with a profession in security.