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Student Profile: Blocking Evolving Cybersecurity Threats and Maintaining Computer Security

Interview with Michael Woods

Job title: Information Security Specialist, CACI, Inc.-Federal

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Security

1. What are you doing since you completed your bachelor’s degree from AMU?

After completing my bachelor’s degree with AMU, I started an outstanding internship, educating CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ courses. A couple of months later I started doing that, I received a job offer from CACI, Inc.-Federal and began working as an information security expert in Crane, Indiana.

2. What prompted you to pursue a career in information security?

I’ve always been interested in computers. After retiring from the Marine Corps, I took the time to receive my diploma in an area of interest. After some study on the business, I decided cybersecurity was the place that interested me the most.

3. How can you prepare to go into this field?

I ready for the information security area by acquiring my bachelor’s degree in information systems security, while at the exact same time pursuing my CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ certifications. Additionally, I found a mentor who’d been at the cybersecurity field to keep me to the right route and point me in the right direction when I was struggling with something in a particular area, like subnetting.

4. Just how has the knowledge that you acquired to your bachelor’s level assisted you in your career?

The knowledge that I gained from my bachelor’s level was instrumental in my career. I find myself with all the things I heard nearly every day.

I know that I will continue to utilize that info. But, I must continue to seek new information and stay current with best practices, since the cybersecurity field evolves every day.

5. Which will be the soft skills that somebody entering information security ought to have?

Probably the number one soft ability someone in the cybersecurity field will need is a passion for studying. Information technology is constantly changing and thus is cybersecurity.

The dangers we see today will evolve. As they change, cybersecurity specialists will need to develop their skillset to keep up with the shifting cybersecurity landscape.

Other soft skills an individual in the cybersecurity field demands are writing and research. Since the cybersecurity landscape changes, an organization’s policies and policy enforcement will have to change with this. Cybersecurity specialists will be required to perform the research into industry best practices and understand how users use the system, which means they can keep a company’s security plan up to date.

The final soft skill I will touch on is collaboration. There is a good chance you will not be the sole cybersecurity specialist on your organization’s personnel and teamwork is vital as it comes to data security.

On the same note, an increasing number of areas of a company are becoming involved as cybersecurity evolves. That means having those difficult discussions with the Chief Information Officer, users and vendors to think of the very best solution for your organization.

6. What certificates and security clearances are crucial in this career area?

If you’ll be seeking employment with the government or a contractor that works for the government, CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ are required. The security clearance will be set by the job on which you operate.

7. What did you need to do in order to get your security clearance?

Having retired from the Marine Corps, I had a security clearance when I applied for the position I hold. However, as I understand it, the procedure is the same: the Standard Form (SF) 86 has to be filled out. Based on this, the government completes a background investigation to ascertain your eligibility for a security clearance.

8. What are the largest challenges facing our national security right now? 

The largest challenge facing our domestic security is debatable. As a cybersecurity expert, I can tell you one of the largest dangers national safety faces is cybersecurity.

There were cybersecurity threats as recently as May and June of the year. In May, the WannaCry ransomware assault uttered government and infrastructure in countries all over the world.

Afterward, the Petya ransomware attacked exactly the same vulnerability in June. Not studying their lesson in WannaCry, associations all over the world were changed all over again.

9. What advice would you give to individuals seeking a profession in cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a broad field as well as the certificates mentioned earlier are baseline entry level certificates. It’ll be important for people to decide what area of cybersecurity they want to concentrate on. This decision will help them determine what other certificates they will need and help narrow the focus on jobs that hold the most interest for them.

Also, anyone looking for any cybersecurity job should be prepared to keep on learning. Most, if not all, certificates expire and will require Continuing Education Units (CEUs). The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving and they have to have the ability to evolve with it.

10. What should you do in your spare time?

Based upon the time of year, I could be found at my daughter’s cross country or track meets. I could also be found in my son’s football or baseball games.

When I’m not at one of these places, I love to hunt and fish. I can be found on the lake or in the woods. When I’m not involved in these activities, I love to tinker with growth boards like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Currently, I am using an Arduino Uno board with the Arduino software to create my son a self-driving, remote-controlled car that employs an ultrasonic ranging module to avoid obstacles.

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