Saturday, September 12, 2015

I'm An Engineer (I Think)

I spend a great deal of time thinking about where my career is headed. Am I making the right decisions, what steps are required to get to the 'next level,' etc. It's symptomatic of my age - the late 20-something disease of 'careers are hard.'

How Did I Even Get Here?

I didn't intend to even DO InfoTech. I initially wanted to be a librarian at the college level, but when I did my research and saw that librarians with 25 years of experience made a salary equivalent to an IT member with less than 5, I realized that I had an opportunity.

I'm not one to do something solely for money. Money doesn't keep you warm at night, it's not something to live for, but I grew up without much of it. I realize that money represents more than a shiny new car. It can mean buying lunch each day, not having to worry about rent or a mortgage, or living month to month and desperately hoping that no one gets sick, or the car doesn't break down. Money matters, shallow as that topic sometimes seems.

But Everyone Knows How Computers Work!

I honestly didn't realize that I had what it takes to "make it" in IT. I assumed that everyone grew up with computers, and took electronics apart to see how they worked.

In my mind, computer competency and unquenchable curiosity is akin to literacy - it's something that I'm sure a few folks miss out on, but most people have it, right?

It turns out that most like modern gadgets, but when it comes to building and fixing them, they prefer not to know. It's more comforting to them to believe that some things in their life are just.. magical.

But I prefer to know. I must know. I think that's all that engineering is - curiosity that can't be turned off. Whether it's mechanical, structural, electrical - it just means that this particular group of people aren't satisfied to know that things work. They have to know how and why.

Hard Problems Vs. Wicked Problems

I enjoy the hell out of network engineering. It's fascinating to study the infrastructure in an environment and tweak it to do all the tricks that are required for complex integrations and automatic failover. There are lots of things to learn in this field, but I feel that most of the tasks here have a solution.

I'm drawn to wicked problems. Wicked problems are not just difficult problems, they are problems that likely don't have a good solution. I feel that computer security is one of those problems.

InfoSec Engineers challenge themselves to think of their environment from every angle. After all, threats come at any organization from many directions, and only one path has to be open to a hacker or disgruntled user to create an incident. And the good guys have to defend every single possible angle of attack, a wickedly unfair dynamic that is regardlessly true.

What's Next?

First, I certified in Security+ (one week of study), Certified Ethical Hacker (3 weeks of study), and now I'm studying for the CISSP (aiming to be done in January). I'm also using my free time to pick up programming languages to start building my fluency - Python, Bash, Perl. Structural languages to build functional tools. 

I'm preparing my tool belt for my next step. Let's get to it.