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Cisco Volunteers, CyberPatriot Inspire Students to Pursue Cybersecurity Careers

Last week, 60 middle and high school students gathered at Cisco campuses in Research Triangle Park (RTP), NC and Richardson, TX for a special cybersecurity camp being offered for the first time by CyberPatriot, the Air Force Association’s national youth cyber education program.

Cisco volunteers worked hands-on with students at last week's CyberPatriot summer camp, inspiring the young men and women to pursue careers in the cybersecurity field.

Cisco volunteers worked hands-on with students at last week’s CyberPatriot summer camp, inspiring the young men and women to pursue careers in the cybersecurity field.

The camp gave students who had little to no cybersecurity experience an opportunity to learn more about cybersecurity and how to safely use the Internet. The students completed the 20-hour curriculum over four days, and on the fifth day, took part in a mock competition similar to the one held at the CyberPatriot National Finals each year in Washington, D.C. It is our hope that this experience will inspire these students to join the CyberPatriot program and ultimately pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers. A total of 24 CyberPatriot Camps were offered across the country.

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Espionage in the Internet Age

If you had asked me a few years ago, I might have predicted that the rise of large scale hacking and network-based Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) would spell the end of old-school espionage (poison-tipped umbrellas, office break-ins, dangles and the like). Those of us who fancy ourselves logical, savvy cyber security specialists can be forgiven for thinking such analog antics wouldn’t persist in a digital world.

And yet, human espionage remains a nagging issue. A Russian spy ring was disrupted in New York in January. New stories about employees stealing trade secrets from their employers regularly make headlines, such as this one in May. More than one article alleges that Vienna and Lausanne (home to recent Iranian nuclear negotiations) are swarming with spies from Tehran. And these are just the stories that get reported.

There is no question that spycraft is changing with the times. Recent, damaging breaches of US government employee information—amply documented elsewhere—provide some interesting hints as to how: Read More »

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Security and the Board

Not long ago I was asked to attend a quarterly Board meeting of one of my healthcare clients and to present the recommendations of a Strategic Security Roadmap (SSR) exercise that my team and I had conducted for the organization. The meeting commenced sharply at 6am one weekday morning and I was allocated the last ten minutes to explain our recommendations and proposed structure for a revised Cybersecurity Management Program (CMP).


The client Director of Security and I waited patiently outside the Board Room while other board business was conducted inside. As is the case with many organizations, information security was not really taken seriously there, and the security team reported into IT way down the food chain, with no direct representation in the C Suite. The organization’s CMP had evolved over the years from anti-virus, patching and firewall management into other domains of the ISO27002 framework but was not complete or taken seriously by those at the top. Attempts at building out a holistic security program over the years had met with funding and staff resource constraints and Directors of Security had come and gone with nothing really changing. Read More »

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Cisco Secure Ops demonstrated at Cisco Live 2015

As I mentioned in my last blog: “Cisco Live Hosts Enhanced Cisco Collaborative Operations Solution Demonstration“, Cisco Live excited many delegates this year, and one of the highlights was indeed the World of Solutions. I talked about how the industrial section of the ‘Cisco Campus’ not only showed off lots of new advances, but, for the first time, the small but important process industries (including Oil and Gas) booth opened up showing the services-based solutions Secure Ops and Collaborative Operations. Now let’s talk about Secure Ops.

In the video, I interview Cisco and Partner representatives to discuss the Secure Ops Solution from Cisco: What it is, what the business need is, and how Cisco is helping customers get better better business outcomes – especially when it comes to cybersecurity! Having the Secure Ops solution can increase availability of systems and critical infrastructure, reducing downtime in, for example, the oil and gas industry, or or any industry that relies on critical infrastructure such as process manufacturing, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals or other industrial automation environments.

Cisco Secure Ops delivers a standardized, comprehensive and integrated approach to security. It is supported by automation suppliers such as Yokogawa and Rockwell and technology providers such as McAfee and Symantec and provides a framework for a wide range of partners to participate. It’s currently installed at customers such as Royal Dutch Shell.

Rob Arlic of Cisco is joined by Galina Antova at Cisco Live. Rob talks about what Secure Ops is, how it helps provide not only cybersecurity protection, but also demonstrable regulation compliance. It therefore provide companies with higher availability and better Operational Excellence.

Galina talks about what’s new. Added capabilities include going deeper than just the IP network to gain more profound visibility into operations. Then gaining a view of what’s normal/abnormal in those other networks which can be assessed. Managing all that is key, and included.

Rob concludes by summing up: “It’s all about up-time and availability. If there are security vulnerabilities, (making sure) those are addressed proactively, proactively and preemptively”.

To learn more go to

And, as always, tell us what you think.

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How to Land Yourself in A Dream Career in Cybersecurity

Last week I had the wonderful honor of being a presenter in the Cisco Networking Academy Find Yourself in The Future Series. To date this series has attracted over 9000 live attendees, which is testament to the extremely high levels of interest in technology careers in this region as well as the extraordinary efforts of the APAC marketing team. One figure blew me away in particular: 70% of attendees are interested in pursuing careers in cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is an incredibly exciting field. It draws in some of the most talented technologists and brainiacs and in many ways cybersecurity is similar to a game of chess. It’s about anticipating and staying ahead of your opponent. It’s also about learning to think like the bad guys except that he patterns are anything but predictable and then doing good. And, that feeling of contributing to the good of humankind is intensely gratifying.

Cybersecurity is such a diverse field and it intersects with just about every area of technology and even behavioral sciences. And, it’s this intersection that will enable students to pursue their dream careers in cybersecurity. Imagine a career in cybersecurity that intersects with medicine. Today people could die from hackers sending fatal doses to hospital drug pumps and you might have a vision for solving this life-threatening problem. In my work one of my goals is to provide our chidren a safe, digital playground. This combines my interest for education with privacy and digital safety.

On last week’s presentation I suggested students take the following steps to achieving their dream careers. And, it’s these very steps that have been major enablers in my career too.

  1. Find an area of cyber security that is particularly compelling and exciting to you. Or find the intersection of cybersecurity with another field and think of ways that you could change or influence the industry.
  2. Research that area on the web and learn as much as you can about it.
  3. Explore possibilities of being an intern in an organization that is pursuing innovative directions that coincide with your interests.
  4. Find a mentor. Mentors both help you grow your career as well as help you navigate a workplace. If you can find a way to help the person who is mentoring you, for example, research a new area, then you become very valuable to your mentor too.
  5. Finally, think about your career in a series of phases. What you might start out doing may be very different to what you do in 20 years from now. So think about companies that allow you to evolve and career paths that are flexible.

We live in an increasingly insecure digital world. The upside is that that cybersecurity will continue to be a much sought after skillset in the workforce. And, if I can help you pursue your dream career in cybersecurity, please reach out to me and if you missed the session you can view the recording on YouTube.

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