Are you considering a career in cyber security? If you are, the first thing I’d ask you is whether you enjoy solving puzzles? If you love figuring out what’s going on in an environment where you do not necessarily have the whole picture in front of you - you are sure to enjoy working in cyber security. The field encompasses many things from identity management to operations and networking, and that’s what I am referring to when I talk about putting different pieces of a puzzle together…and why I love this space!
Perhaps, sharing my story may help provide more context. My career in cyber security started differently from most. At the age of 17, I became a mainframe computer operator and following that I became a systems programmer, continuing to work my way up. Then in the early 90s I was brought into Telstra to help them with TCP/IP, an internet protocol suite. This is how I got into networking, where I began building firewalls, security appliances, IPS (intrusion prevention systems) and IDS (intrusion detection systems) - it’s a very established field now, but back then, this was quite new and unheard of!
It’d be fair to say that I didn’t quite ‘choose’ cyber security as a career; rather, I fell into it before the term even existed; however, I have always been incredibly happy to be in this line of work.
Ensuring a safer future for everyone
Safeguarding our digital future has always been of the utmost importance to me. This is our mission at CGI, and we continuously develop new skills and services to align with people’s needs. As you’re already aware, technology moves rapidly, and cyber threats are constantly evolving. This means that what we were doing five years ago is not sufficient for today.
In my role, I focus on educating and raising awareness among our teams, industry peers, and clients – not just about tools and policies that keep us secure, but also on understanding this within the context of their own business. My job is to guide everyone on how to apply tools and policies effectively for their specific needs.
The reality is that businesses and organisations are likely to experience a breach at some point, whether it’s due to someone clicking on a dangerous email or a lapse in process. The crucial factor is whether your controls can prevent an attack from reaching your most critical infrastructure, financial systems, or personal data.
There has been a growing interest in threat intelligence and understanding its application in business environments, along with the compliance requirements involved. For us, this presents an exciting opportunity. We assist our clients in understanding various aspects of their business, identifying vulnerabilities, and determining likely perpetrators of breaches. Once we have this understanding, we can then implement the most appropriate controls in the most optimal way.
The secret to being a great cyber security specialist
There are many different domains you can explore within cybersecurity. There are managed services like a Security Operations Centre (SOC), Advisory and Governance, Architecture and Engineering. You just have to figure out where you see yourself fitting in best.
You needn’t be a scholar or have a degree to be good at it, and I’m proof of that. I dropped out of high school to get into computers, and fast forward, here I am as the Director of Cybersecurity at a global company. I believe that to thrive in this space, initiative and a willingness to continue learning how to solve problems are prerequisites. Many here at CGI start their careers in our Security Operations Centre (SOC) as a Level 1 Analyst and move up from there, but in any role, everyone is called upon to understand an issue from all angles in order to solve it.
There are several things you can do to help with this, including reading a variety of blogs and listening to podcasts to keep up with new security trends and advancements. Additionally, practice is critical. A lot of practical learning can be done online now. How can I put this to you - you’ll always prefer a mechanic who’s worked on thousands of cars to the one who has merely read books on the topic.
The key to learning is picking the topics that interest you the most. For me, it’s artificial intelligence at the moment. I highly recommend using Flipboard which collates articles from all over. I also use a site called Feedly which brings all my RSS feeds into one place.
What sets CGI apart? Having held senior security roles in other companies where I often focused on one problem at a time, CGI offers a different experience. Here, I work on different things every day because our cyber team collaborates across all clients. This variety is both exciting and fulfilling. It brings a lot of satisfaction knowing that I am contributing to safeguarding a broad range of companies across the country. In the dynamic digital world, excitement is abundant but safety is paramount. Always.
If my career story has piqued your interest in CGI, consider joining us.