Name: James Packer
Title: Security and Cloud Specialist
Employer: Big 4 Firm
Location: London, UK
Education: Information Technology and Security
Years in IT: 10
Years in Cybersecurity: 5
Cybersecurity Certifications: CISSP, CCSP, CIS F ISO27001
How did you get in to a career in cybersecurity?
I’d say I’m like countless security professionals out there, I first started in IT and security was just a part of my job, inherent in every role I performed. I started in desktop support, progressing through the service desk lines to a managerial role, before moving in to projects and architecture- “solutionising” as I call it. This was when security for me, upped a gear.
As my career matured, I also started working for larger firms where security was a great concern, particularly confidentiality, while working for a global mergers and acquisitions firm. And so it was, as time passed, security started to dominate my work and in turn, my interest in the discipline grew. With IT being such a wide field, I’d always been searching for my specialisation, so security therefore was a natural progression.
What is the biggest security challenge you face in your current role?
The biggest challenge I face is integrating security in to business processes and requirements seamlessly. I’m a real advocate for overcoming the age-old view that security should be seen as a blocker and not an enabler. In reality though, this often is the case and necessarily so in some circumstances. But ultimately, security is supposed to support the business goals of an organisation. Leading technology is being developed at such a rapid pace and is embraced into business just as speedily.; Developing effective, yet silent, processes that support this rapid adoption requires very careful design and implementation though.
How has the CISSP certification helped you in your career?
My CISSP has helped me two-fold, professionally and personally. Professionally, going through the process of obtaining the certification was a worthwhile endeavour. Not only did it help me refine my knowledge, but consequently I have no reservations about taking any other exams on the market after sitting that one! Furthermore, it stands out as the respected gold standard in cybersecurity, demonstrating to employers and colleagues my calibre and level of knowledge in the field.
Personally, it has also helped me to get further acclimatised with the information security market and network with like-minded individuals. The constant knowledge sharing available through the (ISC)2 community is invaluable! Since joining the fold, I have attended countless industry events I’d learnt about from (ISC)2, made dozens of security connections and been able to participate in some great initiatives for the good of the general public.
What personal goals are you currently working on?
Personally, I am looking to feed my constant hunger for knowledge with some further studies. I’m looking to achieve further certifications in both the technical/operational field and the risk management field.
The most exciting goal I am working on however is launching the (ISC)2 London Chapter! Having learnt that such a Chapter didn’t exist, and wanting to network and volunteer my time more, I have embarked on the journey with three other (ISC)2 members to start up the Chapter. The approach of starting with four founding officers, I feel will establish the Chapter in good stead for ongoing success. And there certainly has been plenty of interest and offers of support for this endeavour.
What is the on the horizon for the London Chapter?
Firstly, the Chapter must go through the chartering phase, in order to become a fully-fledged Chapter. This process takes around six months, so will look to be completed around February 2018. During this phase, we will elect our Chapter Officers in to their roles, roadmap the vision and direction for the Chapter in the short, medium and long term and to also look to recruit an opening membership.
Looking further ahead, the Chapter will aim to gradually build its structure and presence in the community. The founding officers are striving to lay the foundation for long term success and as such, plentiful planning and starting out manageably will be essential. We are hoping to build a global, leading Chapter and hope to welcome the thousands of London based (ISC)2 members on board. To achieve this, we will be working on building partnerships, collaborating with existing and experienced Chapter Officers to validate our roadmap, and we will consult with our opening membership to capture ideas and initiatives that align with the wider information security profession.
In the longer term, it is the vision that the Chapter will be open to the community. We are looking to host Chapter meetings and events in public venues, accept members from the profession who may not be (ISC)² members and to spawn initiatives that contribute to the general public, such as in education and healthcare.
What is the most useful advice you have for other cybersecurity professionals?
Network! I’ve found that making connections in the profession is extremely valuable, as it helps you to learn about how other parts of the field deal with similar challenges to those you face; as it’s always helpful to have someone else to bounce ideas off. It also gives you a broader understanding of trends, developments and innovation in the industry that can help you add more value to both your career and your organisation. Lastly, great things can be achieved when you have common goals and work in collaboration with others to drive improvements. There are countless, invaluable initiatives out there that serve as forces for good; it’s always extremely satisfying to know that you’ve made a difference.