During my master’s degree at University of Southern California in Cybersecurity Engineering, I loved being exposed to so many different technical environments, skills, and problems. From previous work experience, I was concerned my job on graduating was going to be much less varied and stimulating.
Then I heard about the Cyber Associate Program through a Stroz Friedberg guest lecture series at USC. I was excited to learn that through rotations in digital forensics, incident response, and security science (i.e., working with organizations to proactively improve their security posture), I was guaranteed to work with a whole host of different issues. The ability to acquire more technical certifications and professional skills while working was also a really distinguishing feature about the Program for me.
During my rotation working in digital forensics, an international case came up which I particularly enjoyed. Our client required a team to travel to India to gather evidence to support an investigation in the US. At a couple weeks’ notice I was on my way to India with two experienced colleagues to image hundreds of machines within the organization’s network, and conduct interviews with their employees.
Working between time zones with support from our Stroz Friedberg colleagues in the US labs, we built the script to scan the entire network and search for specific files and analyze them. When we successfully found the evidence we were looking for, we created reports that were then used when the case went to trial, with our colleagues providing expert testimony. It was a fantastic experience to see the entire life cycle of a case like that.
As part of the Cyber Associate Program before going to India I took the SANS Forensic Analysis course, which equipped me with the technical skills I needed. As I was the most junior person on the team, my colleagues clearly explained my responsibilities and I could defer to them with any issues. The onsite experience was a great opportunity to get to know the team, and it was such a highlight to be able to explore my home country in the brief periods when we were not working.
I quickly discovered that at Stroz Friedberg everyone encourages you to always be learning and to develop new ideas and bench projects that add value to our client work. My advice to future Cyber Associates: learn from everyone around you – especially your peers and colleagues, even those working in other fields.