The (ISC)² staff received the following story about a young and talented information security professional who died at a very young age, just as his talents were starting to make a significant impact in the community. We wanted to share Ryan Bell’s story as a tribute to the many dedicated students and young professionals who are inspired to pursue this challenging career for the greater good. We often say in this profession, “It’s about the people.” Let Ryan’s story be a reminder for each of us to make strong connections within our workplaces, and to look out for one another in our respective life journeys.
Ryan Bell joined the managed security services team Scalar Decisions as an information security analyst within their Cyber Security Operations Centre on May 30, 2016. After two short months at Scalar, he passed away suddenly at the young age of 29 shortly after his 12-hour shift.
Ryan began his studies in information technology (IT) straight out of high school. In 2011, he graduated from Sheridan College with a GPA of 3.38, a Bachelor of Applied Information Sciences degree and an award from Cisco for academic achievement. His information security skills included networking, intrusion detection/prevention, vulnerability analysis, and penetration testing. Ryan also had a strong programming background in languages such as C, Java, Visual Basic, .NET, PHP, and Perl. He soon began working as a security engineer for a local Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) where he began honing his skills through hands-on experience. He attained several certifications including FortiNet Certified Network Security (FCNS) and was studying to write his CISSP.
When I first interviewed Ryan for an L1 security analyst position at Scalar Decisions, he stood out as being personable, inquisitive, enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and passionate about information security. I recall him saying that he was “looking for an opportunity where he could take full advantage of his skills and not just pass alerts on to the next level.” Suffice to say, he aced the interview and was an instant fit with our team. Ryan was eager to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
As he began to settle in it wasn’t long before his unique blend of skills began to emerge. His analysis was thorough and detailed and his communications skills were exceptional. He saw the big picture and narrowed down the issues in layman’s terms to be easily understood. He understood the balance of security and business enablement, and the analytical skill to detect and isolate problems and take corrective action. At our annual retreat we all got an opportunity to get to know Ryan on a personal level. He was easy going, well-liked and always smiling.
Unfortunately, after only a few short months with us, he passed away suddenly. Given his thirst for knowledge and passion for the industry, there’s no telling what his inquisitive mind would have brought to our field. Indeed, Ryan’s passing was a tremendous personal loss to our team and a professional loss to the information security community at large.
Scalar’s team banded together and created a memorial fund that raised $4250 for his parents to help support his family’s funeral costs. His parents, Joanne and Gary Bell were very appreciative of Scalar’s support and compassion demonstrated to his family:
“Dear Mr. Kaul and Mr. Kerr,
On behalf of my husband and myself, we wanted to commend Enzo and his team for all of their support and kindness. We will send a more formal thank you later but we must let you know just how grateful we are that Ryan had the chance to work with such a great group of guys in such a dynamic and family oriented company. Enzo sent some young men to the house and we enjoyed breaking bread with them. The monies raised went directly to pay for his final resting place. We are heartbroken, of course, but the care that Scalar, Enzo, and the team gave us went a long way. You can be proud of your team. God bless you all.”
--Joanne and Gary Bell
A very special thanks to Enzo Sacco, CISSP, Director, Cyber Security Operations
Managed Services – Cyber Security Operations, Scalar Solutions
A few comments from some of his teammates:
“Ryan was a notable rising star among cybersecurity professionals with a promising future. His passion for information security was evident in all of his work. His instinct, curiosity, and diligence were driving forces behind his contagious smile that delivered exceptional in-depth technical analysis.And most notably, Ryan's communication skills were superior, especially when providing guidance to our clients. This further demonstrated Ryan's true penchant for his profession. Ryan will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by me and all of his team mates in Security Operations.”
“I only had the luxury of knowing Ryan for just three months since he joined Scalar, and found him to be one of the most enthusiastic and motivated individuals to join our team. He had zest to learn, a powerful work ethic to do well, and was a treat to work with. During the past week at the Scalar Kickoff, I got to know him better on a personal level. Here was a person I could not only be proud of as a coworker, but had elements/personality traits of what I would take personally as a good friend. He was friendly, easy-going, and would always be approachable enough to talk to. Ryan was a surprise from the Universe in my life and I was very much eager to keeping him as a good, long-term friend. It is truly a shame that the Universe has taken him away so soon. I had high hopes to see him succeed in life. I hope where you currently are you find everything you've been denied in this short life. May your soul forever rest in peace my friend.”