We all take different paths to get into cybersecurity. My advice? Just have a curious mind, volunteer and always look for the unusual. You do not have to be a technologist, just inquisitive.
My path came through tinkering and software. As a young child, I loved to take things apart and see how they worked. Old locks fascinated me. I would take clickable pens apart and put them back together thousands of times. Puzzles both logical and physical intrigued me.
My early influences:
1 The movie “War Games”
2. The books: “CYBERPUNK– Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier” by Katie Hafner and John Markoff and “The Cuckoo’s Egg” by Cliff Stoll
My first computer language was Assembler on punched cards.
My first job in the computer industry was writing device drivers for Navy Sonar systems.
Security is only part of my job today. I think I always gravitated to security policy in the defense industry because I was curious as to why all the policies were in place. My early mentors took time with me to explain why passwords needed to be 12 characters long, contain alpha numerics, one special character and a capital letter or two. They explained why you should not connect sensitive systems directly to the dial up internet. I am thankful that they took that time with me and were not dismissive. They were thoughtful and supportive of my curiosity.
Next thing you know, you are learning system administration skills, writing shell scripts and learning about permissions and why they are important in software.
Fast forward a few years and someone asks: ”Can you take over information security while we recruit to find a CISO?” I learned a ton about policy, law, and incident management in those early days. Just by saying “Sure, I’ll give it a shot while you find someone!”
I managed fraud technologies in the early days of ecommerce. We got scammed. I learned from every scammer that beat us and some that never did.
Today, I have a son who is in college for Mathematics, Computer Science with Security. He keeps my skills current, challenges my thinking, and helps me see that lifelong learning is imperative if you want to be a valued contributor to this industry.
My advice? Stay curious, volunteer, and look for the unusual.
How did you get started? I am curious to hear your story.