Your Infosec Career

Your InfoSec Career, as presented at BSides ATL 2019 @ KSU

These are the notes and links. The slides are available in pdf on the site.


  • We need your help.
    • You need to help us.
  • You need a plan to succeed.
    • Let’s build one together.
  • Whitelist: Things that should probably be on your list
    • Greylist: Things you might not want to do.
      • Blacklist: Please please don’t.

Your Career Plan

Your Opportunities

  • No entry level roles
    • we start at intermediate … especially at large organizations.
  • Our field is mostly young and really well documented
    • so read up and learn from history.
  • Skills and knowledge are highly valued …
    • and You can get them if you want them enough.
  • You will have to learn outside work.
    • read, practice, study
  • We deal with active adversaries who learn and improve what they do
    • So, we must always be learning and improving.

Your Qualifications

  • Do you want to help?
  • Do you have what it takes?
    • Curiosity and willingness to learn
    • Ethics and professionalism
  • Communication skills
  • What makes you special ?
    • That should be the focus of your career plan!

Your Core Skills

  • Communication, in different media
    • to different audiences
  • Excel / basic (spreadsheet) data wrangling
    • some descriptive statistics
  • Learn how to use computers and applications
    • become a Power User of whatever you use
  • Communication to different kinds of people
    • with different backgrounds

Your KSA Skills

  • Knowledges
    • Technology
    • Business (yours, others)
    • Processes and data models
  • Skills
    • Analysis, Reporting, Engineering, Development, Design
  • Abilities
    • Empathy, Translation, Insight, Experience

You Online

Good Ideas

  • Community involvement
  • Volunteer!
  • Compete if you can
  • Online portfolio of work and writing
  • Professional network

    Less Good

  • Details of your current role, their technology stack
  • Your home address

    Just Please No

  • Evidence of unethical behaviour

Your Job Hunt: Process

  • Prepare, Identify, Remediate (Contain, Eradicate, Recover), Learn
  • Reconnaissance, Weaponize, Exploit, Deliver, Control, Execute, Maintain
  • Scanning (job listings), Targeting (orgs and roles of interest), (letter and resume) payload design, (HR) social engineering …
  • Josh More’s Job Reconn book

About Resumes

  • The HR Filter problem …
    • a bit like event management and SIEM design
      • whitelists and blacklists, DWLs,
      • regular expressions and yes scoring algorithms and worse things
  • How computers read resumes [image]
  • VS
  • How hiring managers read the resumes that make it to them

Your Resume

Good Ideas

  • Highlight your successes and impact
  • Focus on your skills and qualifications for the position applied for
  • How you are awesome and special

    Less Good

  • a full work history / C.V.
  • multiple pages …
  • Unfamiliar Jargon and Acronyms

    Out of the Question

  • Lying.
  • Things you didn’t do.

Your Next Interview

  • Be prepared!
  • Things we’ll probably ask about
    • On the table
  • Demonstrating your skills and knowledge
  • Showing your value
  • Questions for your interviewer
    • Often a good idea

Your Support Network

  • Community and meetings
    • Online and offline Forums and Agora
  • Job hunting and career help
  • Resume reviews and practice interviews
  • Professional Orgs
  • Hacker Clubs
    • 2600, dc404, dc770 ++
    • Check out the Atlanta Cybersecurity Engineers Discord:
  • Mentors and teachers
    • Get one!


  • Leslie Carhart (@hacks4pancakes)
    • particularly her series on Starting InfoSec Careers
    • her BSides SLC 2017talk “Together We Can Land a Plane”,
    • her hosted panel with 6 other awesome folks on college and degrees:
  • Brian Krebs interview series (four interviews with different perspectives)

  • Daniel Miessler on Starting InfoSec Careers

  • John Strand / BHIS, particularly “Your Five Year Plan into InfoSec” v1 and v2
  • Heather Mahalik in the OUCH Newsletter on careers
  • Josh More’s Job Reconn book
  • Stephen King, On Writing

about me

  • Ben S. Knowles
  • @dfirnotes
Written on May 4, 2019