"I want to get into a security role within IT."
My advice? Know your fundamentals. Know the core of what makes the world go round in systems, software, or networking technology.
Now please, don't start with the "C'mon dude, are you serious?" after reading this list. Let me esplain. No, there is too much, lemme sum up.
- Understand DNS, in and out. It's been around since the beginning of time.
- Understand TCP/IP, TCP flags & communication, and packets (at least at a level that you can use Wireshark or tcpdump.) I'm not talking about decoding packets in hex and chewing gum at the same time.
- Learn how to administer and troubleshoot issues with Windows Server, and pick-your-flavor of UNIX/Linux. Start small. Think performance monitoring, network monitoring, and service monitoring tools for each platform.
- Understand dynamic routing and networking topology protocols. Spanning-tree and BGP can get very deep – at least know how they function, and primary causes for them to not function properly.
- Learn what viruses, Trojans, and rootkits are, at a high level. Know how some of the primary penetration and propagation techniques occur.
There are a lot more. I know. But I'm more and more surprised by how many technology professionals do not understand core fundamentals like DNS. Or how to break down a TCP traffic flow between two hosts.
Let's not forget this fact: you'll become a stronger security professional by being a great systems/software/networking professional first.
Respect the securitah by knowing and applying your base skills.