Cybersecurity Awareness Month Blog Series
In celebration of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we interviewed our Net Friends about their experiences in technology and the career advice they have for professionals navigating this industry. Meet Kyle, SOC Operations Lead.
How did you get into the technology industry?
Two words. Net. Friends. Before joining the Net Friends team, I worked in hospitality management for 10 years, ranging from private dining to restaurants and bars, even hotels. While I loved what I did for many years, worked with a lot of great folks, and met some awesome people and professional connections, I was in much need of a change. The hours were long, I had to work nights, weekends, and holidays, and the salary was less than desirable. I was longing for a career that observed and encouraged quality of life. Well as it turned out, an old coworker and friend began working at Net Friends, one to whom I had expressed many times my need to get out of the service industry along with my passion for cybersecurity.
From there, she linked me up with a learning coordinator at Net Friends who helped guide my self-studies to push me in the right direction. I thought there was no chance of landing a career in this field having no formal education in IT, but Net Friends gave me a chance to shine. Not only does Net Friends pride itself on building a guild of IT experts, but also cherishes the warm, human touch that a lot of MSPs lack, a kind of interaction I have excelled at in my past endeavors. Also, the training and experience NFI offers to its team members are beyond anything you can get from a book or a classroom. So, it was like Net Friends was the perfect fit for my career path. And now that I am here, I have never been happier with my career and the lifestyle change that came with it.
Is your job what you thought it would be when you started?
Well, it is not sitting at my workstation staring at multiple terminals running Nmap network scans that you see in every hacker movie EVER, if that’s what you mean. Kidding aside, I knew for the most part what I was getting myself into. As a security analyst, one of the main focuses is triaging alerts – sorting through multiple sets of data, correlating events with potential indicators of compromise, and making determinations whether a true security incident has occurred versus being a false positive alert. But it does not stop there. This career gives you the freedom to choose your own path, whether it be the route of risk management, penetration testing, systems engineer; the sky is the limit.
What advice would you offer people in a career in technology?
Information Technology is a very broad subject. I would suggest anyone looking for a career in technology research all the different opportunities and try to focus their attention on one or two different paths. From there, investigate further educational opportunities that hone in on those unique IT concentrations in the form of an associate's or bachelor's degree, IT boot camps, or certifications. If one chooses to go the route of technology, don’t give up and never stop learning, as this industry is ever-changing.
What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in the role of SOC analyst?
The first thing to point out here is the keyword: Analyst! Strong analytical skills are essential to being an effective security analyst. The ability to see or find things that are not clearly outlined, and out-of-the-box thinking is crucial in this line of work. I would say next that having strong organizational skills is key. The job of an analyst constantly forces one to multi-task throughout the day-to-day and being able to work in a systematic manner makes the world of difference in efficacy and accuracy.
What are you most proud of in your time at Net Friends?
Many of the achievements I am most proud of at Net Friends are team owned, as teamwork makes the dreamwork. But I will say, I am very pleased with the fact that in my first two years at Net Friends, I was promoted to a Tier 2 Analyst as well as Team Operations Lead, especially given my professional and educational background prior to joining Net Friends.
If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?
Absolutely. I love what I do and the team I work with. Cybersecurity is a constant challenge, which is why I love it. I have no time in my life for complacency, and the field of cybersecurity is always changing, and offers many sub-paths to choose from.
What projects have you worked on that have been particularly interesting?
There was this one instance of a relative company’s clients getting breached with Ransomware. Ransomware is the nastiest of malware and I do not wish for any organization to suffer though a true breach. However, this afforded me the opportunity to work with a few of our analyst, the client, and their incident response team in an active War Room over multiple days, isolating assets on their network, digging through weeks’ worth of logs and events, hunting down the ransomware payloads, and pinpointing the vector in which the attacker used to breach the client’s environment. It was a great learning experience and strengthened my skills as an analyst.