Session: I Am Not a Glitch - I Am a Zero-Day
We all know the drill…It always starts with reconnaissance. We learn the landscape, we network, and gather intelligence. When we find the vulnerabilities, we use our tools to find ways to gain access, we build backdoors, our skills to maintain and advance it from there. Sound familiar? This isn’t penetration testing. This is career development.
Our best exploit is ourselves. We can grow in our infosec career by being the presence that fills the gap. The InfoSecurity industry is expanding in ways that companies need to address – a few recent examples: social media exploits, supply chain security, vendor risk management, securing the remote workforce … these, and many more are all functions of the security space that we absolutely need addressing right now, and many organizations may or may not be prepared. It’s opportunistic, and maybe even daunting, but your growth is sitting in the gap. Think like a hacker and find those vulnerabilities that are open doors to opportunity. There might be something missing, something new, probably a bit unknown for you as well, but raise your hand to fill that gap even before you know what it means or what it needs.
At 24 I became Citrix’s Chief of Staff for a post-breach security organization, just hardly 2 years post-internship with the company. My undergraduate degree was in criminology – not cybersecurity – so while I knew what broken windows looked like, it was not made of bits and bytes. At first, I felt like my growth was a glitch. Here I was faced with a responsibility that sounded a lot like “flip this organization around, double the size of it, and fix everything about it,” and I was honestly petrified. But I had two things going for me- curiosity and I’m not afraid of fire. I came to realize curiosity took me down the path of criminology, and my abilities were battle-tested and proven by previously running into the fire - instead of away from it - when situations were incredibly challenging for the organization. So, this was not a glitch, it was another gap. And I am not a glitch, I am a zero-day.
So, where are the gaps in your organization, or the ones on your target list? Where are the teams vulnerable? And what can you do to prove your self – your curiosity, creativity, and commitment – to fill the gaps. Where are those backdoors? As a woman in cybersecurity, I am all too familiar with the feeling that we have to take on the world and act like it is easy. I am not recommending you do that. Be strategic with the gap you exploit. Do your reconnaissance, gain your intelligence, and when you find the entry point, that gap is your opportunity for growth.
- Learn how to network, inside and outside the organization
- Doing reconnaissance, and finding the “gaps”
- How to take advantage of gaps without fearing the unknown
- How to recognize your strengths and know your passions
Alexa is the Cybersecurity Chief of Staff at Citrix. Her career has been defined by grit, resilience and agility, both in and out of the office. Alexa defines herself as “putting the soul in security” by bridging the human side of infosec to their technical challenges and opportunities.
Alexa holds a degree in Criminology from the University of Miami and is currently pursuing a Masters of Cybersecurity from the University of Dallas.