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.