Sunday, March 29, 2015

Triggering Events That Led Me To Pursue a Cybersecurity Graduate Degree then Career in Cybersecurity


Triggering Events Timeline Which Led Me To My Career In Cybersecurity


I did not wake up one day and decide on becoming a Cybersecurity professional. A series of events led me down the path to going in a new direction and not touching or configuring technology anymore. Before becoming a cybersecurity professional, I was a Sr. Systems Server Engineer for a very large financial institution. The entire division of System Engineers and myself spent hours walking around data centers with a CD of tools for the purpose of removing viruses and installing virus software on servers to protect them from another attack. In addition to removing viruses, we also were spending a lot of time making changes to the registry of Windows systems to comply I with federal regulations regarding protecting customer data and privacy. The following sequence of events caused me to think critically and I had my “ah ha” moment: I said to myself: “Protecting systems from attack, data from being stolen and preserving customer privacy.”

Thus the following timeline:


  • November 12, 1999 - Gramm-Leach –Bliley Act (GLBA) (Safeguards Rule) Enacted.

GLBA compliance is mandatory; whether a financial institution discloses nonpublic information or not, there must be a policy in place to protect the information from foreseeable threats in security and data integrity.

Major components put into place to govern the collection, disclosure, and protection of consumers’ nonpublic personal information; or personally identifiable information include:

•Financial Privacy Rule

•Safeguards Rule

•Pretexting Protection


  • July 15, 2001 – Code Red I - Affected computers worldwide. Put a halt to many company operations.
  • August 2, 2001 - Code Red II – Affected computers worldwide. Put a halt to many company operations.
  • September 18, 2001 - Nimda Worm – Affected computers worldwide. Put a halt to many company operations.
  • November 22, 2001 – Attended a BDPA Charlotte meeting where Ron Clement shared a presentation about the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)  exam and 10 Security Domians and entering the IT Security field.
  • November 28, 2001 - News of Enron’s hidden losses became public knowledge; stock decreased to $1; Once had a high of $90.56.
  • July 30, 2002 - Sarbanes-Oxley Act Enacted - Law put in place because of the scandals at Enron and Worldcom.  "Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act" (in the House) and more commonly called Sarbanes–Oxley, Sarboxor SOX, is a United States federal law that set new or enhanced standards for all U.S. public company boards, management and public accounting firms. There are also a number of provisions of the Act that also apply to privately held companies, for example the wilful destruction of evidence to impede a Federal investigation.
  • September 2004 – Started Graduate School
  • June 2006 – Obtained Position as IT Auditor
  • June 2006 – Finished Graduate School.
  • Present – The rest is history.


Kind regards,



Friday, March 27, 2015

How Learning Technology Changed Everything For Me



I was born in Boston, Massachusetts to parents who worked in the fields of South Georgia. They got married, moved to Boston and raised two boys in hopes to offer them a better life. I always wanted to know how things worked like TVs, Radios and my toys; took them apart and sometimes could put them back together. I was shy and found it difficult sometimes to fit in, because I had a huge imagination. I enjoyed science fiction and super heroes. You would always find me in front of the TV on Saturday mornings watching the Super Friends and up late in the evening watching shows like Star Trek, Space 1999 and Battlestar Galactica. Science kept me fascinated about this awesome world I lived in and offered me an escape. But growing up in poverty and with a father who could not read or write; he was forced to work on farms to help feed his brothers and sisters, a mother who was in the beginning stages of schizophrenia and with me being born with Sickle Cell Anemia would make me face the reality of pain and hardship every day. Despite these challenges my parents raised my brother and I with lots of love and always told us that hard work would give us a better life. I grew up fixing things for my friends and broken items around the house. I thrived in middle and high school shop classes that offered exploratory careers in carpentry, machining and electrical/ electronics. But in 1984 I had a teacher named William McGuire who was working on a Master’s Thesis to prove that you could teach urban high school students college programming. I was part of only a handful of students who were interested in his course; he changed the trajectory of my life. Mr. McGuire challenged me, he pushed me, and he constantly told me that I can do this. I was an inner city youth writing code before writing code was cool in the 80s; programming languages: BASIC and Turbo Pascal. I still remember the problem he gave to us, where we had to write a program that initiated the countdown sequence to launch the space shuttle. It was the most challenging thing I ever worked on. We learned team work and successfully designed the program to Mr. McGuire's problem.

Mr. McGuire succeeded in building my confidence, so much so that I had the audacity to go to college and earn a BS degree in Electronic Engineering. Mr. McGuire was an integral facet of my life. He was an inspiring mentor to me. As a result of what this teacher exposed me to, I have been able to work with scientists who have items they made that were left on the moon, scientists who researched and developed the energy system for the Voyager satellite space program, successfully implemented a computer network and data center for an online start-up, designing engineering drawings for a biomedical company. Now I provide cybersecurity for one of the largest financial institutions in America. In addition, I learned from Mr. McGuire how to give back to my community. Since 2001 I have had a parallel career as a community activist who has helped underrepresented minorities pursue careers in technology. Currently I am the Chief Information Officer for the National Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) and board member for CompTIA's Creating IT Futures Foundation. Mr. McGuire's innovative learning environment has paid off and keeps giving. I have been able to help mentor and influence hundreds of individuals pursue careers in IT. Additionally, as a positive influence to my younger brother he obtained a degree in Computer Science and works for an Ivy league college as a technologist; he told me that he had to keep up and could not let big brother out do him. Giving back has been rewarding to me on so many levels.

I feel that this is my life's purpose. It’s easy to be kind to others when you know pain and hardship.

Kind regards,


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