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Trainer Talks: Keith Barker on Books, Security, and You

Keith Barker is probably best known for his popular Network+ training. But he’s also our security expert with greatest hits like Certified Ethical Hacker 9.0 and CompTIA Security+.

We talked with Keith at a recent Trainerpalooza at our HQ office. Over the course of our conversation, which has been edited and excerpted for clarity, Keith discussed books, secret tips for IT success, and why security starts with you.

You can watch all the uncut Trainer Talks interviews on our Youtube playlist, which we’ll update regularly with more advice and stories from your favorite CBT Nuggets trainers.

You’re our security trainer and you recently completed End-User Security Awareness training. What’s the one thing everyone should know about network security?

The one thing that people should know about security is that security starts with you, your own computer, your own systems, and that everybody should be concerned about security.

That advice obviously extends to the user. So, what’s the one thing every IT pro should know?

It’s basically the same. Whether it’s voice traffic, data center, or virtualization, everybody cares about confidentiality, data integrity, and availability of systems. I think security and security technologies are very, very important, and they will always be needed on all networks going forward. So if you love security, it’s going to be an in-demand skill set for a long time.

What if someone wants to get into security? At what point should they start?

Just starting out in IT, there’s a lot of enthusiasm, and that’s really important to overcome. Yes. Overcome. There’s a barrier to entry in getting really good at a skill. It’s time.

My advice would be get the fundamentals in place, get the hands-on practice, and then continue every single week by incrementally progressing and increasing your skills.

I promise you. Do these things. Read two to three books a year. Practice outside of work. You’ll keep getting better and better. Your current employer will appreciate your service and your future employers will be hire you because of that additional knowledge and experience.

For those people already doing that, is there a secret to breaking into security?

The secret is this: No baby was ever born where the doctor said, “This guy’s going to be a network engineer or a virtualization expert.” Doesn’t happen. It’s all learned. The secret is just keep moving forward, learning, and growing. Many people, and this is unfortunate but true, most people will stop at some point.

I have another secret for you. I’m super average. But, I try three times harder than the average person. And as a result, I keep on moving, keep on progressing. If I have a failure, I use that to say, “Well, what did I do wrong? How can I change?,” and keep moving forward.  



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