From Hard Hats to Hard Drives

11 Jul 2024

The Unforeseen Journey: From Construction to Cybersecurity

For the past two years, I’ve been quietly immersed in the world of cybersecurity. What started as a casual hobby soon snowballed into a full-blown passion. My curiosity led me down one of the most complex and challenging rabbit holes I’ve ever encountered. Unlike other rabbit holes I’ve navigated, the cybersecurity rabbit hole is vast and relentless, requiring a unique resilience to navigate.

I’ve dedicated two years to studying various facets of cybersecurity, yet it often feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface. The field is incredibly broad, encompassing areas such as forensics, OSINT (Open Source Intelligence), malware analysis, phishing analysis, and SOC (Security Operations Center) analysis. These specialties are typically categorized into three teams: the red team (attackers), the blue team (defenders), and the purple team (a blend of both). And let’s not forget the critical foundation of networking knowledge that’s essential before diving into cybersecurity.

Initially, I bypassed networking and plunged straight into ethical hacking. However, I quickly realized that understanding networking was indispensable. Every aspect of the cybersecurity journey is crucial, but it’s also important to focus on a specific area rather than trying to learn everything at once. My eagerness to absorb all the knowledge often left me overwhelmed.

Before my foray into cybersecurity, I worked in construction. I started as a laborer with the goal of becoming a project manager—a role I achieved after two and a half years of relentless hard work. I vividly remember the moment my boss informed me that I would be promoted to project manager. While I was elated, my colleagues were less than thrilled, some feeling they deserved the position more due to their credentials or seniority.

Despite the challenges and negativity from some coworkers, my boss supported me because of my loyalty, reliability, and willingness to learn. Managing a large community project, including the construction of 115 senior homes, was a significant responsibility. I interacted with residents and addressed their concerns, which the previous project manager had neglected. This role, however, was not without its conflicts.

The dynamics among project managers were strained. Some colleagues actively plotted against me, hoping to see me fail. They withheld crucial information, complicating my job. Rather than complain to my boss, I chose to tackle these issues independently. Early mornings became my time to gather essential information, like contractor schedules and material deadlines, which others deliberately kept from me. This self-reliance was necessary, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when communication became even more challenging.

In the end, my determination and resourcefulness allowed me to overcome these obstacles. My journey from construction laborer to project manager and eventually into the depths of cybersecurity has been anything but straightforward. It’s a testament to the importance of resilience, continuous learning, and the willingness to adapt and grow in the face of adversity.

The Transition to Cybersecurity

During my time as a project manager, I developed a habit of arriving early at work. This was initially to review plot plans and learn the nuances of my role. However, as conflicts grew and information was withheld, I shifted my focus. One morning, I decided to use the office PC to gather schedules and contact information for contractors, crucial data that was deliberately being kept from me. Despite not being the construction manager, I managed contractor assignments and needed this information to perform effectively.

With COVID-19 complicating communication, I took matters into my own hands. I found folders containing material schedules, contractor details, and deadlines—information essential for my role. Printing all this data discreetly was a challenge, so I considered digital solutions. My curiosity about cybersecurity reignited, and I wondered if I could access the PC remotely.

This curiosity led me to research simple hacking methods. I discovered TeamViewer, a tool that allowed me to access the office PC from my laptop and phone. This newfound capability extended to clocking in and out remotely, a function typically restricted to the office PC. By figuring out the admin password, I bypassed these restrictions, although I remained ethical, not abusing this access.

My research revealed that many scammers used tools like TeamViewer, which conflicted with my values. Determined to use my skills for good, I enrolled in online courses to deepen my understanding of cybersecurity. I ventured from hacking Wi-Fi to exploring broader cybersecurity topics, each new discovery pulling me deeper into this intricate field.

After a year of self-study, I decided to pursue a career as an ethical hacker and aim for an internship as a SOC analyst. This journey has been challenging and rewarding, proving that with determination and integrity, one can transition from any background into the dynamic world of cybersecurity.

The Cybersecurity Journey Continues

As of now, I have earned certifications such as Google Cybersecurity and Linux for Beginners from Hack the Box. I’m currently delving deeper into SOC analysis and eagerly anticipating creating content to share my cybersecurity journey. Although I’m in my late 30s and currently unemployed, my passion for cybersecurity keeps me motivated.

My departure from the construction company was driven by unfulfilled promises from a new employer. Despite initial assurances of a stable job and good pay, the reality was far from it. This experience only strengthened my resolve to pursue a career in cybersecurity, where I can apply my problem-solving skills and passion for technology.

Each day, I continue to learn and grow, aspiring to secure an internship as a SOC analyst or work in ethical hacking. My journey is a testament to the importance of resilience, continuous learning, and staying true to one’s values.

Stay strong, stay positive. The road ahead may be long, but the journey is worth it.