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Re: Career Advice
From: Bill Swearingen <hevnsnt () i-hacked com>
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2010 08:50:26 -0500

Hey Josh,

I would suggest you get as involved with your local security community as
you can (time-wise) afford. Check out Infragard, ISSA, HTCIA, ASIS, ISACA,
hackerspaces, etc.

Second, keep looking.  Dont let one interview get you down and out.  Just
because you were not what they were looking for in this particular
job, doesn't mean that you aren't exactly what someone is looking for
another job.  I know I have personally had to turn away some incredible
talent simply because they were not exactly what I was seeking for to fill
that particular position.

As a hiring manager, I am more interested in your side projects, what you do
at home, and what you do to keep yourself updated on the latest security
threats.  Dont be afraid to work on your offensive side, and to talk about
it in any future interviews (depending on the job of course).  Oh.. and you
should come to KC for the CyberRAID <http://www.cyber-raid.com> (a little
plug there)

Also, dont forget that we aren't exactly in a booming economy right now. =)
So dont leave your current position until you find that next one.  Security
can be a difficult area to "break in to" but dont give up, it will be that
much more rewarding when you find that right one.

-Bill



On Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 7:28 AM, Josh Little <josh () zombietango com> wrote:

 So, I've been trying to leave my job of 11 years for a dedicated security
position and have had little luck. I've had one set of interviews, where I
was passed on for what may have been team personality issues - no big deal,
these things happen. But I can't keep but wonder if there is something I'm
missing - well, I know there are things missing, I just don't know how big a
deal they are. What advice would you guys give me, given the following:

- I've got some 13-14 years IT experience, with 11 of that being in the
enterprise sector in the advertising industry. The experience is across the
board - helpdesk, operations, network & infrastructure administration,
security, and web application work. The past 4-5 years I have tried to
specialize as best I could in security, while also being required to perform
the tasks of a network administrator, network engineer, voice engineer, and
"digital/web guy". Our entire network operations team is only 5 guys for an
entire multi-site enterprise operation, so I cannot just work in one area.
This is the main reason why I am looking to leave - the breadth of work
experience has been helpful in doing the security work, but I want to be a
dedicated security person, not an NA that also kinda does security. Also,
our operation (and our industry in general) is not terribly concerned with
security for cultural reasons. We have very little management buy-in for
security initiatives. Even after incidents occur, management may be
concerned for a month or so before slowly ignoring the controls put in place
to help prevent another incident.

- I've "concentrated" on intrusion detection, network analysis, incident
response, and web app testing. This has mostly been out of necessity, as
these have been the areas most needed at my current job. I've dabbled in
other areas of security, but these are the ones that I get the most exposure
to. My skills are, I believe, decent but not awesome. They are decent enough
that I can reliably find compromises, explain why the machine is to me
considered compromised, find the source of the compromise, and determine to
some level how it came to be that way. I obviously don't know if I am
missing anything - I may just be able to find the bottom rung of owned
machines. There in lies problem number two - I have no one to compare myself
to or learn from. The security program at my current place of work was
developed pretty much by me and no one else there has a strong security
background beyond the basic security concepts. I listen to PDC and most of
the other security podcasts and have no trouble following along and taking
what is said and applying it back into my own organization, so I know I'm
not just a clueless n00b, but I have no benchmark by which to compare
myself. I've signed up to the Security Mentors program, both as a mentor and
a mentee, but have heard nothing back from them. There are a couple local
groups that meet - one is attached somehow to U of M in Ann Arbor (40
minutes away) and meets on a college students schedule. I'm looking into the
local Infraguard chapter.

- I have no certifications or special training. Everything I know I've
either learned on the job or taught myself. My job will not pay for security
training for me and I've found the cost of most training to be outside my
budget in the past. Would you consider this to be a big minus? If so, where
would you suggest I start? I'm not looking to spend a year + taking classes
and earning certs, mainly because I don't have the time or money to do so,
but if there was one, possibly two classes to take what would you suggest?

I think I've got a lot going for me. I've gathered a good sense of
business, something that a lot of younger security guys don't have. My
skills are good, though just how good I'm not sure. I'm at the "strong" part
of my career (I'm 35), but I just want to make sure I take it in the right
direction. It's now time for me to make that next step, but I'm not really
sure if I'm in the position to do so. Let me know what you guys think.

PS - If anyone is interested in taking a look at my resume, I can provide
that privately.

ZT

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