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CompTIA – Employability and Upskilling in IT and Cyber Security Webinar

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This webinar explores our panellist’s experience working in the technology sector, particularly Cyber Security. 

Our panellists share lessons learnt that have shaped their experience and understanding of what it takes to succeed in Cyber Security – and share these insights to help you succeed and grow in a Cyber Security career.

Dr James Stanger – Chief Technology Evangelist at CompTIA

Photograph of Dr James Stanger, Chief Technology Evangelist at CompTIA

For over 20 years, Dr James Stanger has consulted with corporations, governments, and learning institutions globally on IT security, open source, and network administration. 

His clients include the following organisations:

  • The British Army 
  • Northrop Grumman
  • IBM
  • Oracle
  • General Dynamics
  • West Point (US Army)
  • NTT Japan
  • Symantec
  • SQA
  • The US State Department
  • New Horizons
  • Dell
  • The United Arab Emirates Cultural Division
  • The Open University (UK)
  • The US Navy
  • Mesei University
  • SoftBank.

He’s an expert in security, networking, and open source; Dr James Stanger specialises in security analytics, penetration testing, Linux and open source, network administration and monitoring, blockchain, and endpoint host support.

He has authored numerous books, articles, and blogs, which have been translated into multiple languages.

He serves as the Chief Technology Evangelist at CompTIA, collaborating with IT professionals, hiring managers, and executives worldwide to identify critical skills and develop education programs. James resides in Washington State’s Puget Sound area.

Gary Fildes –  Cyber Security Inspector for the ONR

Photograph of Gay Fildes,  Cyber Security Inspector for the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Gary Fildes is a cybersecurity inspector for the ONR in the UK (Office for Nuclear Regulation). 

He is responsible for regulating safety and security at 36 nuclear-licensed sites in the UK. 

Mr Fildes has 20 years of industry experience in the education, commercial, and government sectors. 

He has held various roles, ranging from service delivery to infrastructure design and information security, before moving into delivering technical training in apprenticeships, commercial, and military environments before joining the ONR in 2015.

Key Takeaways From The Webinar

Advice to their younger selves that would have served them well for the rest of their careers?

Dr James Stanger: 

  • Get a mentor.
  • Get hands-on experience in every concept you learn while working in the industry.
  • Focus on building foundational knowledge to understand the core principles of Cyber Security.
  • Learn a lot about the cool things that are out there to learn about IT and Security. 

Gary Fildes: 

  • Overcoming the fear of failure will open you up to opportunities that will change your life.
  • Go for it; follow the path. 
  • Stay true to the path, gain key certifications, key experiences, key learning, and surround yourself with the right people – you will have a career for life and job security.
  • Cyber Security is about understanding the basics. “If you want to be successful, know the basics!”
On the best/ most direct path to a Cyber Security career? And what is the key to success in the industry? 

Dr James Stanger:

  • Start at a lower level role, like tech support, and move yourself up into security. 
  • Leverage experience that you have from a previous role and how to bring valuable thinking from those roles into a Cyber Security career. 

Gary Fildes: 

  • Cyber Security is a business function that focuses on identifying risks in a business, so focus on building your IT and business skills.
  • A direct path is a path that suits your skillset – and it’s up to you to use digital tools such as social media to get yourself out there.
  • Also, apply for everything… the worst that can happen is that they say no.
What are the key characteristics/skills/traits each looks for when hiring for cybersecurity jobs?

Dr James Stanger: 

  • Curiosity in learning new technology.
  • Curiosity in how businesses work, and how people work. 

Gary Fildes:

  • Communication skills!
  • Working in cybersecurity is about being effective, and communication allows you to be effective. 
  • “Analysing what may be technical risk or a personnel risk and articulating it to the right people” is the core skill that matters. 
What can people do to come across well in interviews?

Dr James Stanger: 

  • Do your research on the company.
  • Ask questions that are specific, like ‘What is the need for this role?”
  • Look to start a dialogue about what may be important for the company… Show them you are worth having a dialogue with. 
  • Also, a sense of humour will always endear you to people. So use it if you can. 

Gary Fildes:

  • Do your homework and understand fully what the business does. 
  • Be curious, and ask about the technology the company uses.
  • Have copies of your CV.
  • Smile, shake hands, and come across as positive and personable.
  • Put together a presentable application to come across well. 
What toolsets do they think people need to have to fast-track their cybersecurity careers?

Dr James Stanger: A certification that helps you understand what’s important and what isn’t. 

Gary Fildes: The most important tool someone should have is the CV.

Also, self-promotion and Linkedin. 

Pick the right courses and skills to help facilitate that career change you’re looking for. 

Their thoughts on the role of degrees and certifications for a Cyber Security career?

Dr James Stanger: You don’t need a degree to get into IT. “What got me a $25,000 pay raise was when I did a Microsoft certification.” What’s important is the evidence of skill. 

Gary Fildes: Certifications help you get started quickly in the Cyber Security sector. “The [CompTIA] A+ set me off on my path”, and “The [CompTIA] Network+ is a definite must as someone who trains a lot of people, mentors a lot of people in the industry.” 

The importance of your digital presence for an IT/ Cyber Security career?

Dr James Stanger: Professional dialogue is important for your social media presence, especially if you want a Cyber Security career. 

Gary Fildes:

  • It’s common sense to have a strong digital presence to land a Cyber Security role. 
  • Be careful of what you share on social media – especially for a security career.
  • Keep it professional and promote yourself. Join the right groups, and make sure your CV is ready. 
whether you should go down the Cyber Security or Penetration Tester route?

Dr James Stanger: 

  • It’s best to explore all of your options within Cyber Security. 
  • If you’re someone interested in testing the extent of a system’s vulnerabilities, then a career in pen-testing may be for you.
  • If you enjoy gathering evidence such as log files, packet captures or spreadsheets – a Security Analyst career may be for you. 

 Gary Fildes: It’s useful to understand both aspects of Cyber Security and Penetration testing no matter which field you choose to get into. 

Their observations on what the number one cyber threat today is?

Dr James Stanger: Finding the right way to manage people, what they’re doing, and what they’re creating continues to be the biggest threat to Cyber Security. 

Gary Fildes: People and culture. It is people not dealing with threats and not paying attention. It is about training and education, and awareness from people working inside organisations. 

On the impact of AI on the Cyber Security sector?

Dr James Stanger:

Artificial intelligence is going to be one of the new co-workers.  

AI and Machine Learning are adept at automating repetitive tasks. AI and other technologies lack the interpretive element that humans have – this sets us apart from these technologies.

AI and other technologies lack the interpretive element that humans have – this sets us apart from these technologies.

AI and Machine Learning are very good at brute-force tasks – in other words, taking something repetitive and then automating it and learning. It does not have the interpretive element that humans have (which matters more in security careers) 

AI is there to make people’s jobs more efficient, to spend time on non-repetitive tasks – not replace them entirely. 

When it comes to AI, you have to go deeper than what intelligence tools recommend. You have to be a last-mile worker – someone who recognises where these tools can take you – and be able to move the conversation further than what intelligence tools can do. 

Gary Fildes: 

Jobs change and evolve all the time. However, what is more important is having intelligence within yourself – to know when it is the right time to adapt.

AI will not stop a user from clicking on an email link or opening the door for a tailgate or a piggyback coming to the organisation. 

Cyber Security is about the people’s side more than anything else. 

Dr James Stanger: 

One reason is the way technology is being implemented by companies in a haphazard way that fails to put security implementation first.

Gary Fildes:

Cyber Security has been ignored and badly managed by companies in the UK. Skilled professionals who possess a variety of skills, such as the Internet of Things, operations, technology, skills, and cloud, are now in greater demand than before as a result.

where they see Cyber Security heading in the next couple of years?

Dr James Stanger: 

Expect to see a combination of IT & Operational technology. And, as cities become smarter and technology more pervasive – privacy in its many forms will take centre stage.

We will see people taking security more seriously to enable privacy – and the elements that entails.

As everyday devices become smarter – privacy is set to become a big concern, too. 

Gary Fildes: 

Same as it is today. It will come down to people and culture. 

IoT (Internet of Things) will grow in importance as more devices come online.

Understanding the basics of cybersecurity and understanding people will continue to be important.

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