I still remember how much I loved the first car I owned. It was an old, well-used 1985 Jeep Cherokee. The Jeep came ‘as is’ according to the owner, which basically meant it needed some work. One of the most critical tasks was replacing the engine’s serpentine belt, which was worn, frayed and cracked. For those non-car enthusiasts, the serpentine belt, or just belt, wraps around and drives power to many of the key engine components – e.g., your water pump won’t keep your engine cool if the belt breaks.
With my Jeep in the garage, I pulled out my toolbox and got to work. My toolbox was new, not well organized, not prioritized by the tool’s function or criticality and generally didn’t have all the necessary tools for the job at hand. Over the next two hours, I struggled unsuccessfully to remove the belt. In fact, I appeared to have done more damage to my knuckles and the bolts holding the belt in place than good.
My father, who was occasionally checking in, finally gave in and decided to help. It’s not that he didn’t want to help, but that he knew that I needed to struggle on my own to become a better mechanic. I needed the experience to problem solve and overcome obstacles. My father would not always be around to help me fix this Jeep, and he wisely let me work through the problem at hand and then stepped in to help coach and guide me.
First things first, my father went to his toolbox. His toolbox was a collection of tools that he had purchased and come to own over the past 30 plus years of working on and fixing different family vehicles. His toolbox was also well organized and the tools were ordered according to their purpose. He quickly found a tool, which was not in my toolbox. It was an odd looking tool, yet was built for a very specific purpose – to bend and adjust to the engine’s contours to easily reach the bolts holding on the serpentine belt.
In less than 15 minutes, my father had the belt off and was not even drenched in sweat or bleeding from all knuckles. He said one of the most important attributes of being a good mechanic is that you have the right tool for the job at hand. The right tool will make your work not only more effective, but also more efficient. At that point, my father gave me the tool and told me to add it my toolbox.
At Regis University in the Information Assurance Program, our job is to equip your toolbox with the right tools. As faculty, we realize that we only have limited time with you and will not be there as you face increasing challenges and take on new opportunities. We guide and instruct you and hopefully give you the right tool for the job at hand.
The key tools for being a successful information assurance/security professional include:
- Integrity / Courage – As an information security professional, you are entrusted by your employer with access to sensitive systems and data. You will also be placed in extremely challenging and ethically complex situations. You need integrity and courage to navigate these situations.
- Strong Technical Foundation – You need to be well grounded in the key technical disciplines of information assurance, including cryptography, risk management, TCP/IP, network and endpoint security, cloud and virtual security foundations, secure coding standards, etc.
- Exceptional Communication Skills – If you can’t effectively communicate what needs to happen, then all else is for not.
- Relationship Building Skills– You by yourself cannot accomplish anything, especially in the field of information security. To be effective, you need to build strong relationships with other teams, such as the server team, help desk team, audit and application development teams.
Rest assured, after graduating from Regis’ Information Assurance Program, your toolbox will be more expansive, better organized and will include the right tools for you to be successful in your future endeavors.