Which Security Career is Right for You?

Security is a growing field, and with its growth come many different career options. As you gain experience in different security areas, you may choose to further specialize or move into management in that area. Some security roles include analyst, network security engineer, auditor, computer forensics and penetration testing.

Analyst

Security analysts interpret security information from within the organization and from outside entities and make recommendations to management. They review security logs and data collectors for organizational systems and alert colleagues to potential threats. Some analysts work in a Network Operations Center (NOC), where information from data collectors is consolidated and presented for ongoing review and decision-making. They also review current security standards and recommend methods and controls to maintain a consistent information security risk level within the organization. Analysts are generally detail oriented, organized and thorough.

Network Security Engineer

Network security engineers implement controls as defined by management or required by regulations. They are responsible for configuring a variety of technologies including perimeter defense systems such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems; authentication systems such as directory services, remote authentication, and biometric systems; and encryption services. Network security engineers often have a background in information systems and networking.

Security Auditor

Security auditors are responsible for assessing whether adequate security controls are in place in an organization in order to satisfy regulatory requirements and organizational risk thresholds. They may work as consultants providing auditing services to clients. Auditors may use multiple methods for assessing controls: observations involve reviewing control documentation, corroboration relies upon interviews and statements of those responsible for controls, while inspection relies on direct control review. Auditors may also test controls by conducting simulations. Auditors are generally detail-oriented, pragmatic and methodical.

Computer Forensics

Computer forensics professionals such as forensic investigators or analysts collect digital evidence from devices such as computers, hard drives, phones and flash media. They follow a strict process that ensures original evidence is not modified and that a chain of custody documenting each interaction with the evidence is maintained. Computer forensics professionals analyze the data on devices, including data in deleted areas, memory or unused portions of media to find data relevant to an investigation. They may also be required to testify in court regarding their findings. Major tools used in computer forensics include Guidance Software’s EnCase, Access Data’s Forensic Toolkit (FTK) and Cellebrite.

Penetration Testing

Penetration testers assess the security of a system by attempting to break into it. Penetration testing occurs only after the owning entity of the system provides authorization for testing to be performed. The attacks used and vulnerabilities discovered are documented along with appropriate remediation steps. Major tools used in penetration testing include Metasploit, Nmap, OpenVAS and Kali. Penetration testers are generally very creative, adventurous and curious about how systems work.

Security Management

Security managers coordinate activities in their area of responsibility. They ensure that those in their department have tasks to accomplish and the resources to complete those tasks. Security managers ensure that costs stay within budgets and approve or make recommendations on new equipment purchases or staffing changes. Security managers also provide leadership and coaching to their departments while interfacing with other executives to coordinate activities and communicate the status of ongoing work. Security managers may be responsible for areas such as a Network Operations Center (NOC), Security Operations Center (SOC), penetration testing team, auditing department, incident response, system analysis, or other areas.

Managers are sometimes promoted from within a department or may come from a business or project management background in another field. If you wish to get into management, gain familiarity with an information security discipline and then begin developing your project management and leadership skills.

You are in for an exciting career no matter which role you choose. Consider your own personality and think about which of these areas appeals to you. One element common to all these roles is continual learning. The security field is constantly changing, and you will need to stay abreast of these changes to be effective in your role.

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Security Career Networking Tips

Do you know why all the major online retailers offer a way for users to review products? It’s because people want feedback from others when making a decision. Job searches are no different. A resume may say a lot about skills and experience, but it says little about a person and, in the end, it’s the person who gets hired. Start networking to accomplish this. You can do this by building a network, networking through groups and through social networking.

Building a network

A word from a colleague or associate regarding an applicant makes a much greater impression than a good resume. For this reason, it is important that you not only gain the necessary skills and experience but also build a network of professionals in the industry.

You can begin the process right now. Create a list of the people you already know, such as friends and family, neighbors, co-workers, coaches or trainers. Even people you have met in the past such as friends of your parents, your doctor, insurance agent or lawyer can help.

Discuss your career goals with people you know and seek their advice on how best to prepare. Most people have a desire to help and enjoy providing advice if they know that advice will be appreciated. Make sure you follow their advice if it sounds reasonable and keep them up to date on your progress.

If you don’t follow their advice, let them know why. These people will be your champions once they see that you are willing to listen attentively, pursue your goal tenaciously and communicate with them. You are giving them a success story they can later relay to a hiring manager, which can go a long way in establishing that you’re fit for the job.

Networking through groups

Join one or more professional groups such as ISACA, ISSA, ACM, or Infragard and begin attending their meetings. As you talk to people, concentrate on asking questions about their work and some of the challenges they face. Work on being a good listener by concentrating on the person, thinking through what they say and asking questions to clarify.

Don’t forget about your nonverbal communication. Smile and make eye contact. Shake hands firmly and keep an open, inviting stance. Be aware of their nonverbal communication as well, especially indications that they want to switch to a different topic or step away from the conversation.

It can help to collect business cards and take notes on the people you meet; it’s easy to forget important details if you don’t write them down. Review your notes before your next meeting so you can engage with people again and pick up where you left off.

Social networking

Develop a LinkedIn profile and possibly a Google+ or Twitter profile. Add the people you meet to your social networks so you can continue to interact with them and better understand their relationships with others. However, don’t rely solely on social networks, because they are simply an extension of your real-life networking activities.

When it comes time to search for a job, let those in your network know what you are looking for. Be specific. Don’t just say you are looking for a job. Rather, say what position you would like to have. A large number of positions are filled without ever being posted to a job board. Those in your network may be aware of one of these possibilities and could mention you to the hiring manager.

Remember, you are asking a great favor of someone when they recommend you for a job. Make sure you have developed a good relationship with that person before asking. In other words, don’t ask someone about potential opportunities the first or second time you meet them.

Make those personal connections and begin networking now. The process itself will make you a better communicator, and the relationships you build will benefit you long after you start your career.

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Getting Over The Experience Hurdle

New graduates are in a tough spot, especially those interested in cyber security. A majority of cyber security positions require one or more years of experience; and thus the difficulty, because experience is often earned on the job. Don’t let this hold you back from applying for one of these positions, because there are many ways to get the experience you need.

Certification

Certification is an excellent way to demonstrate skills, especially when experience is lacking. Certification tests are typically timed, multiple-choice exams that measure knowledge of a specific subject. Some of the mainstream certifications, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Practitioner (CISSP), have an experience requirement but many others, such as the Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and the Holistic Information Security Professional (HISP), do not.

Volunteering

Do you belong to a group or support a cause that might need your help? Experience does not have to be gained on the job. Instead, offer to secure the website code for your scout troop, update the computers at your church or school, teach residents of a local nursing home how to protect their privacy online or configure wireless access points for people in your apartment complex. Lastly, don’t forget to list these volunteer activities on your resume. You can include them in a skills section if you have only volunteered once or twice but if you volunteer regularly, create a volunteer section on your resume to specifically highlight these.

Extracurricular Activities

There are likely professional groups in your area that discuss security such as ISACA, ISSA, ACM, or Infragard. If you are in a major city, there are probably dozens of groups. While some cost money to join, many memberships or attendance of group events are free. These groups might meet monthly to discuss relevant topics in cyber security—join one or more of them and start attending their meetings. After you become comfortable with the members and venue, approach the group’s leadership about helping out. Most groups are always in need of help, and this will also allow you to network with others in the industry and stay current on important topics.

Internships

Most of the suggestions so far have offered ways to gain experience outside of the workforce. Internships, however, offer on-the-job experience that can easily be added to your resume. Internships are advertised in the same places you’d find job postings: job boards, Craigslist, school career portals and company websites just to name a few.

Some internships are unpaid, but don’t be frightened by this. Unpaid internships are generally more geared toward preparing an intern for the workforce. Paid internships, on the other hand, usually involve tasks that are more directly related to the company’s business—there may be less mentorship and guidance.

Either way, internships give you a chance to try your skills out in the real world and to tackle real problems that you can discuss in an interview or cover letter. Also, don’t forget to ask for a letter of recommendation from your supervisor if you did a good job in your internship.

Everyday Activities

The last area where you can demonstrate experience is in your everyday life. This is especially relevant for soft skills or general business skills such as communication, time management, organization, project management and planning. You can begin this process right now. I recommend creating a skills inventory that you can draw upon as you begin your job search. You can start with a simple outline. Create main sections for computer skills, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, organization, communication and so forth.

Next, think about times when you had to use these skills in your daily life. For example, for leadership you could list how you took charge of a team project for one of your classes. Describe how you divided responsibilities and helped set a shared vision for the group. Make sure to describe the outcome as well.

Armed with one or more certifications, volunteer and extracurricular experience, an internship and your everyday skills, start looking for jobs and create a resume and cover letter tailored to the desired traits indicated on the job description.

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Remington College Commencement Address

I was honored to be able to address the final graduating class at Remington College’s campus on the West side of Cleveland, Ohio.  It was also my pleasure to be one of the first instructors there and to design much of the curriculum used in their Computer Networking Technology program.  Here is the commencement address for those who wish to read it.  Congratulations Remington College graduates.

Faculty and staff, parents and friends of the graduates, and the graduating class of 2013. It’s a great honor to commemorate your graduation and all the dedication and effort that went into it. You should be proud.

I’m sure you’re eager to leave here, diploma in hand, to celebrate with all your friends and family. Before you do, take this one truth with you…Cultivate real relationships.

Career pursuits, technology, entertainment, and life pressures have a way of distancing us from others. Don’t let that happen. Establish deep relationships with a few close people. They’re the ones who can be relied on in troubled times and they make life worth living.

Most of you are probably on Facebook. When I joined Facebook, it sure did change my life. I quickly connected with friends from school and work. Soon after, family members joined my circle of friends. People I hadn’t talked to in years came out of the digital woodwork, eager to reconnect, share experiences, photos, and memories. Looking at each page was like meeting in a coffee shop sharing wallet photos and catching up.

It didn’t take long, however, before I had a few hundred friends. Friends who tried their best to keep me up-to-date on their lives. I was flooded with information on the games they were playing, food they were eating, or the programs they liked on TV. The intimate coffee shop I had liked so much turned into a busy train station.

I tried my best to keep up with it all. I read their updates and posted thoughtful replies until one day I saw one of my friends at the store. I tried to remember something she’d recently posted on Facebook so I could strike up a conversation, but it was all a jumble in my head. She had just gotten back from scuba diving. No. That was someone else. Her sister had a baby. No, still not right.

I realized then that I was trying to do the impossible. By dividing my attention among so many people I wasn’t being a good friend to any of them. Mark Vernon, author of The Philosophy of Friendship, says, “You really have to have mulled over things with [someone] to become really good friends and there’s only so many people you can do that with.” In other words, you need to spend quality time together in order to cultivate really good friends and you can only do that with a few people. Quality time is sometimes a shared experience. At other times it is giving a person your undivided attention or a listening ear.

“Be courteous to all”, George Washington said, “but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”

We need a few close friends – the kind you can call anytime or count on in times of trouble. They are the ones who love you and want the best for you. Sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona found that these close friendships have decreased by a third in the last twenty years. A third of close friendships lost in a period where technological advances would seem to make us more connected. Instead I are becoming increasingly isolated.

Meaningful relationships need to be cultivated. It’s something you’ll have to make time for. This is important because a lack of close friends can lead to loneliness, anxiety, and a diminished satisfaction in life. I want you to live a happy fulfilled life. A life you’re not going to find in social networking, climbing the corporate ladder or driving that fancy new Lexus. Don’t get so caught up in life that you forget to cherish relationships. You’ve come this far and I’m sure it wasn’t all on your own. You’ve had some help from parents, a spouse, friends, teachers, or peers.

Take a minute to identify those people and vow to cultivate those relationships, for a rewarding life is not built alone. Cultivate real relationships. They will be more valuable to you than anything you achieve.

 

Vatterott College 2010 Commencement Address

I was honored to be selected as the commencement speaker for Vatterott College’s 2010 graduation on May 8.  It was a wonderful graduation. Afterward many people stopped by to tell me their appreciation for what I said.  It was encouraging to know that I was able to inspire the students and their parents.  Here is the speech titled “A Rewarding Life”.

Faculty and staff, parents and friends of the graduates, and the graduating class of 2010. It’s a great honor to commemorate your graduation and all the dedication and effort that went into it. You should be proud.I’m sure you’re eager to leave here, diploma in hand, to celebrate with all your friends. Before you do, let me share three features of a rewarding life. These features will help you live a fulfilling life of meaning and purpose.

First, be willing to change. We live in a world where innovation is crucial to success. It’s a volatile world where changes occur in the blink of an eye. I encourage you to be flexible and ready to adapt.

Second, cultivate real relationships. Career pursuits, technology, entertainment, and life pressures have a way of distancing us from others. Don’t let that happen. Establish deep relationships with a few close people. They’re the ones who can be relied on in troubled times and they make life worth living.

Third, enjoy the journey. Goals are necessary and wonderful but don’t let your joy only come at their completion. Be satisfied in the journey. You’ll always be working towards something. Up till now it was your degree. Tomorrow it will be something else. Be proud today for what you’ve achieved and rejoice tomorrow for what you pursue. Seize the joy in each day for it is there. You just need to look for it.
Leading a rewarding life involves change. There’s a picture in my office of a tree in a meadow. Beneath the picture is the word change written in all caps. Little buds of spring can be seen sprouting from the tree’s limbs under a bright sunny sky. The scene changes when viewed from different angles. In one, leaves take form clothing it in a beautiful green canopy. Another shows it adorned with the colorful leaves of fall. The last depicts it with snow covering its bare branches surrounded by an untouched sea of white powdery snow.

I look at this picture often. It’s a reminder that change is a natural part of life. We sometimes forget that, despite the fact that we’ve lived with constant change throughout my lives. After all, I change my diet, my interests, and those I associate with. So why do I find change so difficult to deal with?

The main reason is control. Diet, interests, and friends are things I have control over. The difficulty comes when change is forced upon us. Lack of control can create uncertainty and fear. Some try to resist change but that just makes life harder. It can increase stress and result in missed opportunities. I want to impress on you that change is good for us. It makes life interesting.

So how do I conquer my fear of change?   You can do it in two ways. First, learn to expect it.

In 2001, I attended a conference where the founder of a Japanese animation studio described how he switched all the computers in his company from PC to Mac and then back again a few years later. He did it to compel his staff to do tasks differently. He wanted them to become accustomed to approaching problems in a new way, often discovering better methods in the process. His technique made quite a statement to his employees and they remain a creative and profitable company today because they expect change. In fact, they seek it out.

The second method for conquering fear of change is to seek to understand it.

When the federal rules for electronic discovery were modified in 2006 many law firms struggled to adapt.   We at JurInnov had been following the changes and were familiar with how they impacted the industry. Our proactive stance and positive response to the change allowed us to step in and provide guidance to these firms.   In seeking to understand the change I realized an opportunity.

You’re about to experience a big change. School is over. Now it’s time for a career. You’re entering into a new world full of challenges. You’re going to have to learn new skills, modify your routines and make sacrifices. So I ask you to expect change, seek to understand it, and embrace it because it is one part of leading a rewarding life. This, like many other changes ahead of you, is a great opportunity.

Another feature of a rewarding life is meaningful relationships. I joined Facebook a few years ago and boy did it change my life. I quickly connected with friends from school and work. Soon after, family members joined my circle of friends. People I hadn’t talked to in years came out of the digital woodwork, eager to reconnect, share experiences, photos, and memories. Looking at each page was like meeting in a coffee shop sharing wallet photos and catching up.

It didn’t take long, however, before I had a few hundred friends. Friends who tried their best to keep me up-to-date on their lives. I was flooded with information on the games they were playing, food they were eating, or the programs they liked on TV. The intimate coffee shop I had liked so much turned into a busy train station.

I tried my best to keep up with it all. I read their updates and posted thoughtful replies until one day I saw one of my friends at the store. I tried to remember something she’d recently posted on Facebook so I could strike up a conversation, but it was all a jumble in my head. She had just gotten back from scuba diving. No. That was someone else. Her sister had a baby. No, still not right.

I realized then that I was trying to do the impossible. By dividing my attention among so many people I wasn’t being a good friend to any of them. Mark Vernon, author of The Philosophy of Friendship, says, “You really have to have mulled over things with [someone] to become really good friends and there’s only so many people you can do that with.” In other words, you need to spend quality time together in order to cultivate really good friends and you can only do that with a few people. Quality time is sometimes a shared experience. At other times it is giving a person your undivided attention or a listening ear.

“Be courteous to all”, George Washington said, “but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”

We need a few close friends – the kind you can call anytime or count on in times of trouble. They are the ones who love you and want the best for you. Sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona found that these close friendships have decreased by a third in the last twenty years. A third of close friendships lost in a period where technological advances would seem to make us more connected. Instead I are becoming increasingly isolated.

Meaningful relationships need to be cultivated. It’s something you’ll have to make time for. This is important because a lack of close friends can lead to loneliness, anxiety, and a diminished satisfaction in life. I want you to live a happy fulfilled life. A life you’re not going to find in social networking, climbing the corporate ladder or driving that fancy new Lexus. Don’t get so caught up in life that you forget to cherish relationships. You’ve come this far and I’m sure it wasn’t all on your own. You’ve had some help from parents, a spouse, friends, teachers, or peers. Take a minute to identify those people and vow to cultivate those relationships, for the rewarding life is not built alone.

We come to the last feature of a rewarding life, enjoying the journey.

I started writing a novel about a year ago. I went into it bursting with creativity, eager to give shape and form to my ideas. It didn’t take long before I realized how little I knew about people. I asked myself, how do you describe a smile? What makes one smile warmer than another? What goes through your mind when your threatened, scared, excited, or in love? I had to take a step back and look at the everyday things I hardly even notice and it gave me joy. I realized that life is so much deeper than I realize. There is beauty, wonder, and intricate complexities that only experience and open eyes can see. Things I was missing in my haste to move through life.

Society pressures us to rush through life as if that’s the only way to meet my goals and objectives, but there is no enjoyment in that. As stress builds you reach a point of diminishing returns where your productivity decreases more and more. In the long term this can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, insomnia, and depression. This is why workplaces ask you to take breaks. Here’s a little secret. When you enjoy what you are doing, you’ll end up meeting your goals and objectives too.

I have to admit, this is an ongoing struggle. I find myself hurrying here and there frustrated when I lack the time to do everything on my list. It’s times like this when I have to force myself to slow down, prioritize, and make time to relax.

Haste can cause you to miss out on life. John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. So, avoid the stress and enjoy life. Make time in your schedule for reading the book sitting next to your bed. Spend time with loved ones.   Take a walk in the park, or whatever activity you enjoy. You’ll have a much more fulfilling life if you do.

Let me take this final moment to summarize these features of a rewarding life. First, embrace change. Look for the opportunities in it and celebrate the changes awaiting you. Second, take the time to cultivate real relationships. They will be more valuable to you than anything else you achieve. Lastly, enjoy the journey. Step away from all the pressure, refocus, and give yourself room to succeed. I’m excited for you all.  Congratulations.

 

Virtualization for Competitive Advantage | Cleveland State University

I will be joining Pei-Ying Lin at Cleveland State University today to present on Virtualization for Competitive Advantage.  Virtualization can easily transform your IT infrastructure, making your business more agile and give you better ROI on your IT equipment.  You can view the presentation below.