Saturday, January 3, 2015

Being true to yourself

I've always had a passion for computer/network security. Looking back, I was a hacker (in the good sense of the word) ever since I bought my first computer. I was in the Navy and used my reenlistment bonus to buy my first computer, a Radio Shack Tandy T1000. I picked it up going into a three-day weekend and spent the whole weekend tinkering with it; taking it apart and putting it back together and ultimately breaking it so badly that phone tech support couldn't help me restore the partition table that I had deleted. I ended up fixing that myself and calling to tell tech support how I did it so that they could add it to their notes.

I not only wanted to know how computers worked, I was also intrigued with how to get computers to do things that were undocumented, like some kind of black magic. I was fascinated with hackers and hacking. Once I discovered VMware Workstation and Server, I was running labs in my garage to learn server OS and security. Meanwhile I was in the Navy as an Aviation Electrician and was raising a family. I never really learned as much as I wanted to about programming and low level operating system details. I just didn't have the time.

During my last tour of duty in the Navy before retiring I managed to work my way into the IT department of the command where I was stationed. I had the right skills, in the right place, and at the right time. I worked my way up from help desk, to system administrator and Assistant Information System Security Manager over that three years. During that time I also finished my degree in Networking and Security Management.

My first (and current) civilian job was "Network Support" and I was promoted to "System Engineer" around two years later. Since then my job has taken me in a direction other than where I had intended. These days I rarely get to work on the networking and security side, and spend most of my time with Citrix, VMware, and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). I am very thankful for the opportunities that my employer has given me and the training I've received. I alone am responsible for keeping myself on track to reach my goals, and ultimately the things I've learned outside of security will help me in the long run.

While studying for Citrix and VMware certifications, I realized that I had to push myself to do it. I didn't feel a "pull" to do it so I lacked the motivation to succeed. In evaluating my goals I realized how far I had strayed from my passion for information security. I'm certainly not getting any younger, and I'm feeling a sense of urgency to be true to myself this late in life. While I'm not old, I am on my second career after retiring from the Navy.

I've decided to change my goals to realign myself for my passion for information security. While I've attempted to learn Python in the past, I usually got sidetracked and never completed it. I've found Codeacademy where I'm currently learning Python interactively. I'm also getting back on track by studying for the Certified Ethical Hacker v8 certification. While many people may look down on certifications, I'm using it as a way to stay focused and on track. I'll be posting my study notes here over time for others to use.

Be true to yourself. Its a drag trying to force yourself to stay motivated for something that doesn't make you happy in the long run.