Do you like working with computers? Interested in both networking AND programming? Well, then a career as a Network Security Specialist might just be for you! This week, ATETV staff caught up with one in person. Jerry Gamblin works as the Network Security Specialist for the Missouri House of Representatives; a position he has been in since 2005.
Here’s what he had to say about his work:
What made you decide to pursue this as a career?
I love problem solving and there is no bigger problem in the networking field then security. Plus I really don’t like fixing printers : )
Tell us about your current position. What does a typical day look like?
I work at the Missouri House of Representatives with 163 state representatives, their legislative assistants and House staff.
It is really hard to describe a typical day but it is always going to include checking access logs, catching up on industry news and responding to emails. Then I will spend some time catching up with other people in our office about the projects they are working on and how they impact our security posture. After I get that done I am on call to help fix or answer any questions that might come up.
Also… you will get a call after hours a couple of times a week. This is NOT a 9-5 job.
Why would students today be interested in this career path?
It is a good hybrid field for students who like networking and programming. You get to use your analytical skills that programming helps to develop while being able to work on a lot of varied projects that seem to draw people to networking.
What qualities would make them successful?
You have to want to always learn. If you are not willing to completely turn over your skill set every 3-5 years this isn’t going to be the field for you. You have to spend a lot of time reading, learning and talking to your peers.
What do you see as the biggest types of security risks that they might face in their careers?
The ones they are not thinking about. Most of the time security risks come from servers that you don’t know exist or haven’t audited. That is why having a good relationship with all the members of your team is so important so you don’t get left out of the loop on projects.
What advice do you have for people considering this as a career
Learn how to communicate. Security is a lot about being able to take an abstract security idea and turn it into something that you can make your customers care about. You can have all the technical knowledge in the world but you won’t be successful until you can share it.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to prepare for a career as a Network Security Specialists, individuals commonly earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science and management information systems (MIS), but a degree in any field, supplemented with computer courses and experience, may be adequate. You can also prepare for jobs in this field by pursuing an associate degree or professional certification, along with related work experience.
And for the rest of us? Well, it is good to remember that everyone has a role to play in keeping their computer systems safe. “Security…” Jerry said in a in a recent interview with the National Conference of State Legislatures, “.. is everyone’s business.You’re just as responsible for security as your IT person. You have a link in the security chain and you can blow it up pretty quickly.” So take the time to regularly scan your computer with your anti-virus software, to continually update your passwords and to pay attention when programs ask for personal information. For these tips and more,visit the National Cyber Security Alliance.