If you want to become proficient in information security, I suggest you take your time and work your way into this fascinating field. You can begin with the BrainBench Internet Security and Brainbench Network Security certs. Visit www.brainbench.com and search on "Internet Security" and "Network Security" for specific pointers. After that, I recommend that you tackle the CompTIA Security+ certification, which is shaping up to become the leading entry-level security certification in today's marketplace (www.comptia.org/certification/security). From there, if you want to pursue some interim credentials before tackling something more senior like the CISSP (which requires four years of experience as of Jan. 2, 2003, but of which one year is offset by possession of a college degree from an accredited institution of higher learning), I'd suggest looking into offerings from the SANS Institute (www.giac.org) or from Security University (www.securityuniversity.com).
You should find plenty to occupy yourself in this area and pursue your goals of finding a job (infosec remains among the very strongest hiring opportunity areas in IT today). And as you accumulate entry- and mid-level certs, you will find the time slipping by rapidly, after which you can qualify for the CISSP experience requirement.
Good luck with your upcoming efforts.
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This was first published in March 2003