June 2016

What’s so great about being a cybersecurity analyst?

Woman-in-front-of-computers-250Everything! As a Psychology major in college, after graduation there were not many jobs that paid very well. When I was going through college, while a serving in the US Air Force, I did not research career opportunities for my degree in Psychology as I assumed I would go to Graduate School and then on to my PhD. As it does, life changes and you must adapt. The US Air Force was going through downsizing and I was one of the lucky ones to get an early release! Now what? I had to find a job…..and working night shift at a facility for delinquent youth did not seem like a job I would be very good. A good friend of mine called to ask me if I wanted a job because he was starting his own business. Without hesitation I said yes and headed to Washington, D.C. I have been working for him for 11 years and it’s been a great experience!

My job is as varied as I could have imagined. With a degree in Psychology and my experience in the Air Force, I found my niche in Risk Management. Over the years I have traveled as a consultant conducting Risk Assessments for organizations ranging from financial, health, military and web-based businesses. I’ve traveled extensively in the US and internationally, meeting some amazing people doing amazing things! I have been lucky enough to work wherever I feel I need! A career in Cybersecurity provides you the flexibility to work remotely!

The past few years I have concentrated a lot of my career on Cybersecurity education. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to grow the education vertical at the company I currently work for and have learned more than I could have ever imagined! I have taught Risk Management courses to over 5000 students! There was never a day in my past I would have never dreamed that I would become an expert in something at a level that people would pay to take a class from me! A career in Cybersecurity provides you the ability to select many different paths based on your personality and interests.

I learn more from teaching than I ever thought possible. Teaching in a field that changes every minute it seems, I have to keep my skills current and stay abreast of current events in Cybersecurity and IT. This forces me to continue learning and challenged. As with an field in Cybersecurity, it is a career choice in which you must want to continue to learn to be successful. A career in Cybersecurity will challenge you continuously!

When considering a career in Cybersecurity don’t think it is only for people who love programming or are strong network engineers. I had very little computer experience when I entered this field, but with anything in life, hard work, dedication, motivation, willingness to step outside your comfort zone and passion will make you successful!!! A career in Cybersecurity will provide you many advantages, but most importantly it will provide you a challenging career that can be accomplished anywhere in the World!

Dream big and Follow your dreams!

The HACKable Toilet

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For years my husband has been begging someone to invent a toilet that cleans itself, lowers the lid, flushes when it needs, and ensures that you are never left yelling for someone for toilet paper……most of that technology is currently available and he could not be more excited. Bluetooth provides a user the ability to remotely control all aspects of the toilet from any smartphone. This is exciting news until we discover that poor secure coding practices left a very basic password on the system, leaving it easily vulnerable by attack from even your own child! How much fun would it be to continuously flush the toilet on mom while she is in the restroom!

Programmers have to learn the basics of secure coding to ensure that this type of vulnerability is not built into critical systems that could impact safety or life. A quick vulnerability assessment or penetration test of the system during the System Development Life-cycle could have easily discovered this vulnerability prior to release.

To read the details on this recent hack: http://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/hackers-take-control-toilet-using-7342662

It is FINALLY Time……….

The time is finally here. The hard work is starting to pay off and we can finally see our vision coming together! We are now accepting applicants for our upcoming class! The VERY FIRST Cyber Warrior Princess class will start on September 6th! The initial class will be limited to the Ohio region of Cincinnati-Dayton to ensure that it is successful and the students are providing all the support and mentoring they need.

Classes will be provided in a blended atmosphere and will require in-person attendance at least 50% of the time to complete the program. Our classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and will feature an on-line classroom to ensure attendance for every student. Each student will be granted access to our on-line Learning Management System (LMS) and will be required to complete readings, submit assignments and successfully pass quizzes every week. To be provided a voucher to take the Security+ exam, the student must maintain an average of 80% in the class.

In addition to the 16 weeks of education, each student will be paired with a mentor in the Cybersecurity field. We will also work with students that are looking for career opportunities to match them with prospective employers.

We have read enough about the shortage of Women in STEM and Cybersecurity fields, now let’s do something about it!!!

If you are interested in applying for the first class and reside in the Cincinnati-Dayton region, please send email us admissions@cyberwarriorprincess.org. We will send you an application and all needed information to apply!

Applications will be accepted until July 31st, 2016. We look forward to receiving your application.

How did I get into Cybersecurity?

Way back, long before I want to admit I rolled up my sleeves, walked into the Air Force recruiter’s office and enlisted in the United States Air Force! Little did I know that my life was going to take me to places I never imagined……

Fast-forward almost 20 years later. Here I sit in my kitchen, watching the rain fall outside my window testing the security of computer systems for my clients! How in the World did I end up here? A “Cliffs Notes” version of my path to Cybersecurity just to prove that anyone can be in this field and there are so many awesome opportunities that allow you to be analytical, creative, witty, or even obsessive!

I started out as a Intelligence Analyst….go ahead, ask me about Area 51…..I could tell you but then I would have to kill you! I did not get the best grades in school as I really did not like what they were teaching me, it was boring and I was too smart for them at the time, at least I thought! I did score well enough on my ASVAB exam to qualify for a pretty awesome job (my dad swore I was going to be a cook and that I would be fired immediately because I can’t cook!) and luckily for me had some wonderful mentors along the way. I was living and working in Omaha, NE and had been deployed to Saudi Arabia and Europe by the time I was 20! It was a great life…..but Nebraska was not the place for me. I volunteered for an assignment in Tampa, Florida in “Information Assurance”. I had no idea what this job was, but I knew it was close to the beach and far away from Nebraska so I took it!

Arriving in Tampa, I was way outside of my area of expertise and had a lot to learn. Fortunately, I had a wonderful boss who became an important mentor in my life and provided me the training and education I needed to be successful in my career. Shortly after arriving in Tampa, the awful events of 9/11 changed my life and I ended up on a plane to the Middle East…my job…..to protect our networks. WOW! That was a really important job and I was brand new to this field of Information Assurance. With a heavy responsibility on my back I took to the books and internet. I read everything I could get my hands on, I asked questions to anyone who would give me the time of day and I made mistakes. I learned everything from patching systems, conducting vulnerability assessments, reviewing the networks for unauthorized software programs, training users on internet security¬†to dumpster diving where I once found over 50 VISA requests for our troops in the trash! I wasn’t afraid to learn new things and I wasn’t scared to make a mistake. Changes are happening faster than we can keep up and the power of knowledge and learning from your mistakes will be¬†critical in being successful with a career in Cybersecurity.

 

What the heck is Cybersecurity?

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As I prepare for the launch of the Cyber Warrior Princess Program I spend my nights and weekends promoting the idea of Cybersecurity education for women! Everyone I speak with hears the “Cybersecurity” buzz in the news, but most people have NO idea what it even means! Well, let me put into my own words what Cybersecurity means to me and how the CWP will help spread this knowledge to an underrepresented group!

Cyber is the digital world in which we all love. It’s everything that keeps us connected from the social media platforms, to our cars, smart watches to even our toilets now! We live in this connected world that we have created, but can not control. The digital world grew faster than anyone ever imagined, proving the power of the human brain. We use the digital world for everything we do anymore, but as we were rapidly connecting everything together, from end to end, we forgot about protecting this digital world.

Defining security is a little more simple as we are mostly familiar with the physical security we have in our lives. Protecting security within the cyber world is much more complicated though. Placing a police officer or a guard on patrol is very similar to network devices that monitor our organization’s network for malicious traffic. Protecting the cyber world requires a lot of people with a variety of skills. We often times refer to this a Defense in Depth, or Layer Security, meaning there is not one solution that will secure our information. Not only do developers need to write secure code, network administrators need to patch and upgrade devices, security analysts need to monitor firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS), we must train all of our users and our leadership must understand the importance of a holistic Cybersecurity program.

There are many, many different career paths within Cybersecurity. Not every career requires programming skills or hacking knowledge! Take me for example, one of my jobs as a Cybersecurity analyst was to review systems before they were allowed to connect to the network to ensure that they were configured in a secure manner. It’s very similar to ensuring all the doors are locked and windows shut before you leave your house. I have also held a position where I pretended to be a bad guy and try to get inside organizations without being discovered. This is called social engineering. An organization wants to test the security of their systems to see what the bad guy could do if they wanted. Everything I do with social engineering requires no programming skills.

Having an understanding of what Cybersecurity really means will hopefully open another world of career options for you!