Steps and reference needed to be a network security expert

Hello all,

i have been coding since last two years, but always my dream aim was being a network security expert.

As i am ready to go to next step, i need yours suggestions to how and what to do next? Can anyone suggest me what should i practice next?

Give me links, references, directions?

Any help would be highly appreciated.
Get familiar with nmap, telnet and the like and explore.
Thank you for your reply Moschops,
But, i already know much about nmap, backtrack, and tools...
i am not asking for tools, but asking for reference which could explain me network models, about ports, cryptography, protocols etc.
The Illustrated TCP guide. Start with Vol 1.
Yes. The second edition came out late last year.
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