about me

Moving from Healthcare to Cyber

Healthcare has provided an opportunity to secure a living while helping vulnerable people in my community.  In 2010, I became  a Registered Respiratory Therapist, which means my clientele mainly consist of the sickest patients in the hospital.  If you’re inches from death, you’re one of ours.  It’s an incredibly rewarding job, as patients get better we see them come from almost impossible situations, to recover and lead full lives.  A decade after working with a premature patient that you could fit in the palm of your hand, they come walking back in just to say hello to the people who helped save them.  The benefits of this kind are amazing. 


The amplitude of the lows can often equal the highs.  That’s true of an average, nothing out of the ordinary type of day.  Along comes another pandemic.  This isn’t my first pandemic, but definitely it was the most demoralizing.  If you know anyone who was working critical care during this time, we are not ok.  Morality was blurred or sometimes nonexistent.  We were tasked with an impossible job.  Generally a losing job.  We were fighting against an enemy that we could not oppose.  There is no counteroffensive against disease, only striving for support and restoration.  There were intermittent graces, but the weight of it all was enough to change a person’s worldview. 


As the dust began to settle, it was apparent that I needed a change.  The desire to stand in the gap was still there, but I needed something less passive.  I needed a direct adversary.  One day while making my rounds, I overheard a patient arguing over the phone, and it was evident that it was a phone scam call pretending to be medicare to get their information and possibly scam them out of money.  I thought that was a pretty low blow, but a smart tactic.  The next shift I was in another patient’s room and the same thing was happening to them, and I realized that some scam center was targeting my hospital as part of a campaign because patients were directly reachable by outside numbers.  I was fired up.  I was able to contact IT and tell them what was happening, and after that I haven’t noticed any further conversations.  That’s a win, that felt pretty good.


Growing up I played chess *cough* competitively.  You don’t play the board, you play your competition.  The board is only the means by which you battle.  It’s not a secret, either.  Both sides know what the other’s capabilities are.  There’s never a surprise piece that suddenly shows up to annihilate the opposition.  Play favors the attacker.  You deploy you defenses, maneuver your assets, feint, deceive, and attack, while maintaining your own defenses.  My choice was to play the black pieces.  There was something incredibly satisfying about denying the attacker the game that they set out to play, and transposing it into your making.  This was my game. 


Cybersecurity seems very similar.  It provides me with an opponent.  I may never meet them, but they are there, on the other side of the board.  Technologies don’t attack, only adversaries do.  The field is relatively level.  It’s stacked in the odds of the attacker, but chess is stacked in favor of white as well.  The attackers can only attack what you have, the pieces are known, though the tactics may change.  I think the defenses are interesting.  There are firewalls, authentication, deceptive honeypots.  You can fingerprint the attacker by the tactics they use, which clues you in to who you are actually defending against.  The kill chain points to the next target where you can expect the attack to pivot.  It’s pretty amazing stuff.


Unfortunately, the opponents are actually criminals.  Some of them, horrifically debased criminals that attack the weakest among us.  There’s a growing awareness surrounding the epidemic of abuse involving children and displaced peoples seeking asylum.  When discussing this topic, speakers have to be careful with their words to avoid being flagged.  Many use phrases like ‘forced work’, ‘free labor’, and acronyms like CSAM.  As my awareness grew in these subjects, I couldn’t ignore the problem.  This became the ultimate reason to change to cyber.  These offenders are playing the game without an opponent, and hurting generations in the process.  I will continue to increase my skill set in order to burden these criminals and provide them a stumbling block to their actions. 


If you’ve made it this far, good on you.  I had no intention to write anything this wordy.  I hope we can work together to create a more stable an secure world where the vulnerable can walk securely.