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Hacked Opinions: Veterans who transitioned into InfoSec

Steve Ragan | Nov. 12, 2015
Veterans discuss moving from the military to their current InfoSec careers.

JS: Cybersecurity is not much different than the security operations we do as soldiers in our current conflicts in the Middle East.

That is one of the great experiences that soldiers bring to InfoSec, experience in managing security operations. The technology is easy to teach, leadership skills and an operational mindset are hard to find in the security field.

What advice would you give to service members who are interested in InfoSec?

JS: Make cybersecurity your hobby, learn how the technology works.  That will be your gap in knowledge when you join the civilian workforce.  Set up your own computer lab in your house or in the public cloud and learn how a firewall, IDS/IPS works.

Are there any particular strengths that you feel veterans bring to the InfoSec market?

JS: Operational experience and leadership.

Those are the two biggest gaps I find in the market today that veterans can fill. Most folks in InfoSec want to be the “talent” and individual contributors. Former military folks naturally gravitate to leadership roles and thrive.

Anything else you would like to add?

JS: Don’t expect to get a job in InfoSec just because you are a veteran.

Like most fields, there is a barrier of entry that requires you to have a base of knowledge that will make you a value add to the team. Make cybersecurity your hobby, get hands on experience through volunteering and through social clubs who do weekend “capture the flag” competitions.

Tinker in your own cybersecurity lab and learn how the technology works. Get certifications that are relevant to the career path you want to go.

In most cases, you can use your GI Bill to pay for those classes and certifications.

How did you transition from your military career to your current role in InfoSec? Was it a natural fit, or did you have to make adjustments?

Lewis Kim, DAST Manager, Threat Research Center, WhiteHat Security (LK): As a reservist, the transition process was relatively seamless.

As many vets have mentioned before, you need to change your mindset and expectations within the civilian sector.  The military has a very efficient way of running but that’s mainly due to the strict rules and regulations that we adhere to.  The civilian workplace usually has a lax environment which can be challenging to deal with if you are use to getting things done in a military fashion.

What advice would you give to service members who are interested in InfoSec?

LK: Take the initiative and start researching on your own first.  If you keep yourself informed with the current trends, the vernacular, and general fundamentals of InfoSec, the more appealing you will be to potential employers and networkers.


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