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  • Writer's pictureCliff Krahenbill, aka, Prof. K

Before There Was Cyber Security

The great thing about Windows is its popularity has made it a target for every script kiddie and wannabe hacker on the planet. Without this demand, there would be no need for this course, no need for security professionals and no need to learn how to protect our networks and computers.

Windows and Cisco have kept me gainfully employed since 1998. Never been without work and both have provided ample opportunities for me to progress from being a $10.00 an hour help desk puke to a senior networking consultant making six figures, and that has been the case year after year, after year. I've had many different jobs in technology. I've been hired and fired so often I stopped looking for full-time work and became a subcontractor for various technology firms. Best move I ever made.

Linux can't do that, and Apple is for web designers and graphic artists but Microsoft because of its vulnerabilities and the anonymity of the Internet, there are ample opportunities for everyone. We should all embrace the shortcomings of Microsoft and see the opportunities that abound for networking and security professionals; I know I do. Thank goodness for the hackers, crackers, the cyber criminals, and the script kiddies. Thank goodness for M$ and all their vulnerabilities.

My last full-time job was a great one. I worked for Clifton Gunderson as a Senior Networking Consultant, and though I detest having to work with end users and clients, that is what most of my job entailed. In 2008, the senior manager for my department was a man down for their IT audit team. I walked in and volunteered my services and immediately began wearing two hats, Network support and IT auditing.

The IT audit side of the house provided external security audits for banks, schools districts and government agencies all across the U.S., Korea, and even the South Pole. I worked in the same office as the IT audit team. When they packed up for a road trip, they would be gone for a minimum of three weeks and sometimes as long as six months conducting IT audits. On my side of the house, technology support, there was one other consultant and me.

No one wanted to work in my department. Many of the IT audit staff has been IT consultants before there was an IT audit section. Like me, they hated the constant whining and complaining of clients and end users. I would estimate that roughly 75% of our calls dealt with malware and infected networks. All this brought on by careless end users.

Having to recover an infected network that is on the brink of total disaster is time-consuming and stressful. It can take weeks and cost the client tens of thousands of dollars in man-hours and lost productivity.

Aside from Microsoft, I was also the Cisco guy. I started out working on the Cisco PIX 501, 2900 switches and 2600 routers. Over time I worked on the ASA 5500 series and the newer switches and the 2800 router series. I also had to support Microsoft servers and workstations.

No one can have an appreciation for Cisco and Microsoft products until you've spent 15 years in the trenches supporting them. Long nights and weekends spent installing, upgrading, supporting and repairing networks and networking devices from Austin to Boston and Maine to Spain.

Wearing the hat of an IT auditor for me was easy. I could talk the talk with anyone working IT while at the same time show them what I was looking for and where it could be found on the server or the firewall. I could look at any network diagram, take the IP of any switch, firewall or router and attempt to gain access using a browser or SSH client and surprisingly enough, I often would.

I learned network security building networks from the ground up and then having to support and defend those same networks not from hackers and cyber criminals but the greatest threat to any network, the end user.

Before there was cyber security, there was network support and that included securing and recovering networks, hacking lost Microsoft and Cisco passwords, file modification, hacking the registry and paying attention to what was going on around us and in the world of technology. You were either a hacker or a network support tech. Someone would launch a virus; the network support team would figure out how to locate it, get rid of it and block it from coming back in.


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