Name: Miriam Celi
Title: Technical Leader – Secure Coding IT Quality Assurance
Employer: Humana, Inc.
Years in IT: 20
Years in cybersecurity: 7
Cybersecurity certifications: CISSP, GISP
How did you decide upon a career in cybersecurity?
I got into a career in cybersecurity by chance. In early 2009, I joined a small startup that specialized in personal identity verification (PIV) solutions for the government. I was very fortunate that since the company was small, I was able to perform various roles, such as integrating products with various physical access control systems and biometric devices, representing the company in security conferences like ASIS and ISC West, doing product deployments, training and even customer support. In early 2013, Codebench was acquired by HID Global where I transitioned soon after to work with identity and access management, authentication, and public key infrastructure (PKI) certificate validation solutions.
Why did you get your CISSP®?
It was during my experience at HID Global that I first learned about the CISSP certification. My management was very supportive about it for a career progression in the security field. I started preparing for the exam in the fall of 2015, and finally registered for the exam in the spring of 2016. Registering for the exam gave me a deadline to work toward and happily I passed the first time. What helped me was a combination of my years of experience and taking the time to prepare for the exam.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day starts with catching up on emails by 8:00 a.m. Sometimes this is fairly quick, and sometimes it can take up to an hour to get through them all. After that, I get started on the work that I have planned for that week. This can vary day to day, but generally it involves meeting with teams to discuss security issues and their resolution, training on application security best practices, performing threat modeling and application security scans, and looking into new vulnerabilities and how they can affect our applications. There is never a dull day.
Can you tell us about a personal career highlight?
One of the highlights of my career was attending my first security conference while working at Codebench. The first security conference I went to was ISC West in 2012. I felt very proud being there representing my company and showcasing our products to business partners and clients. It was a great experience and I was really impressed by the immense size of the conference and the many security companies present.
How has the CISSP certification helped you in your career?
I feel the CISSP certification was a great investment for my career. It definitely helped open up more opportunities to pursue a career in cybersecurity. Soon after I achieved my certification, I was approached with an opportunity to work with Humana in their Secure Coding team. I think the fact that I had my CISSP certification was a distinguishing factor from other applicants that were trying out for the position. I highly recommend investing in the CISSP certification if you are a security professional looking to grow in your career.
What is the most useful advice you have for other cybersecurity professionals?
My advice would be to first research companies in the security industry. Find out what opportunities you would like to pursue and what are the required qualifications. I would also recommend to look into attending a security conference because you’ll find many companies in the industry, and it’s a great place to network, meet fellow security professionals, learn about the latest technologies and solutions and perhaps even meet a future employer.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
The field of cybersecurity is increasingly important due to the immense growth and dependency on software and the internet. A career in this field is very promising since companies are looking for ways to protect their data, information and reputation. A lot of these companies seek out CISSP professionals exclusively. I think the CISSP certification helped me get noticed and differentiated me from the competition. I highly recommend the investment in attaining this certification.
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