New skills, new confidence, new friends – the Cyber Security Essentials course was a blast

Anne Oikarinen

Anne Oikarinen

Senior Security Consultant and Content Creator

June 17, 2020 at 09:07

We've had a fun half a year packed with information with the Cyber Security Essentials training program. There was a mixture of joy and sadness in the last meetup: it was dull that the course ended, but there was the joy of learning so much new and meeting like-minded people. I interviewed a few of the participants, Mia Brunila, Milla Puutio, and Marjanah Sadiq, on their views on the course. It looks like although the program ended, there's no way to stop these cybersecurity enthusiasts!

HelSec meetups were a popular way in

Milla Puutio, who studies IT, heard about the Cyber Security Essentials program in a HelSec meetup. Marjanah Sadiq, a History student, specialized in Russian EU trade relations and finishing her thesis, also ended up in the course through HelSec. Mia Brunila's friend gave a tip about the course just a few days after she had mentioned wanting to learn more about cybersecurity as it kept popping up in her work as a Communications Manager for the city of Kotka. 

The Cyber Security Essentials course was always packed with people eager to learn more about cybersecurity.
The Cyber Security Essentials course was always packed with people eager to learn more about cybersecurity.

Both Marjanah and Mia pondered that although the cybersecurity community is active and welcoming in general, maybe they should advertise themselves to the outside world a bit more: it can be challenging to hear about meetups and events unless you've already "in" and involved in security somehow. 

So many exciting things about cybersecurity

Milla Puutio studies cybersecurity and attends HelSec meetups frequently.
Milla Puutio studies cybersecurity and attends HelSec meetups frequently.

One of the aims of the course was to introduce a large variety of specialty subjects in cybersecurity. That's why it's no wonder that each participant seemed to have their favorite topic. 

Mia was especially fascinated by detective-like work required when you're examining logs and investigating a security incident. "It seems almost like being Sherlock Holmes," she laughs. Mia also saw how incident response is connected to her work in communications, especially crisis communications.

Milla highlights social engineering as the most memorable theme, mainly because the participants had a very active role. According to Milla, the workshop was carried out very successfully despite the coronavirus forcing the meetup to go online.

Mia and Milla also thanked the instructors of the course about getting a comprehensive view of cybersecurity and the terminology related to it. 

Marjanah was already a hacker when joining the course and enjoyed learning more about penetration testing. She didn't just settle with the course content but is exploring new features from hacking tools, testing exploits like EternalBlue on intentionally vulnerable targets, and searching for information through late night. "I like playing around with the tools and having fun," she laughs.

Marjanah also found memory forensics highly exciting and enjoyed the aha-experiences she got with Splunk workshops. "I had been learning regular expressions while studying data analytics, and it was fun to see new uses for them – and also to notice that learning them had paid off."


The cybersecurity community is awesome

Milla liked the fact the course participants had very different backgrounds, so it was easy to blend in. She also enjoyed the community spirit: "I made many new friends, and we're going to keep in touch outside the course and try, for example, hack labs."

Marjanah also speaks very highly of the cybersecurity community and feels she's always felt welcome, and it's been comfortable to ask questions.

Career stories pointed out the detours to cybersecurity

Mia Brunila got so excited about cybersecurity during the course that she started academic studies about it.
Mia Brunila got so excited about cybersecurity during the course that she started academic studies about it.

Mia highlights the career stories that we had at the beginning of each course. "Chris Kubecka's stories were amazing. It was fascinating to see the connections between cybersecurity and international politics, which I used to study". According to Mia, it was also interesting to see the similarities between other career paths and her own: she hadn't thought about studying IT earlier, but apparently, others also took a detour before ending up in cybersecurity. 

This is an excellent point to note for everyone working in cybersecurity and IT: is it too difficult to get information about the field and what people do for work? Not everyone in IT is a programmer, and not every hacker wear hoodies. And we definitely don't sit in a green-black matrix.

Cybersecurity studies coming up 

This course gave Mia the courage to start studying cybersecurity in the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk). She's looking forward to applying her cybersecurity knowledge in her current job that involves, for example, collaboration with IT management and making continuation plans. "Cybersecurity is such a diverse field, so I don't know all the possibilities yet. But I know it would be great to combine my communication knowledge with cybersecurity."

Milla is already going to major in cybersecurity in her studies and will continue learning more in webinars weekly. She's also going to work on Hack the Box labs and keep attending HelSec meetups. 

If nothing else, I'm going to do bug bounties.

Marjanah Sadiq is a hobbyist hacker and a frequent HelSec-goer. ​
Marjanah Sadiq is a hobbyist hacker and a frequent HelSec-goer. ​

Marjanah also has study plans: she's going to take courses on Linux operating system development, and IoT, "I have been collecting useful skills that will be relevant in my working life from various places." She's also determined to do something related to cybersecurity, in a way or another: "If nothing else, I'm going to do bug bounties."

Tips for learning cybersecurity: be curious!

Mia, Milla, and Marjanah all agree that all you need is curiosity if you want to learn more about cybersecurity. "Cybersecurity is more like a state of mind – if you're curious, want to learn more, and cybersecurity interests you, I encourage you to seek courses and communities and attend meetups," Milla says. Mia and Milla both also point out that technical skills are not necessary, and you'll learn by doing. 

And this is the best part: there is going to be another round of the Cyber Security Essentials course! Stay tuned – maybe you'll join next time?


Meanwhile, if you want to keep track of what's happening in cybersecurity, sign up for Nixu Newsletter.

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