November 27, 2021
JOURNEY INTO CYBERSECURITY

Joseph Mark Fitzner tells an unusual story about how he navigated life from home schooling to a career into cybersecurity. His Journey into Cybersecurity highlights the fact that not one person’s journey is ever the same and that anyone can make it in cyber if they really want to.

Just like my previous guests, you’ll discover his generous mindset and intentional effort to share his experience, perspective and resources with any young student searching for their path or at least their next step.

What inspires me speaking with Mark, and from previously working with him, is his growth mindset. I think it’s amazing how he continues to raise the bar for himself, sets and achieves new goals while keeping his mind open to any new opportunities. In cyber, continued learning and investment in yourself is a must. And there are many different roles one can play during their career in cyber.

Another admirable trait that Mark demonstrates is a healthy dose of humility. It’s the fuel to continued growth and also the quality of a great teacher. Something tells me that Mark will teach many students in his professional career ahead. I personally learned so much from Mark and he always took the time to patiently explain the intricacies of cybersecurity.

I hope you will enjoy my chat with Mark and that he will move you to pursue your purpose in cyber and to use the valuable lessons and resources he shares with us. And don’t forget to pay it forward like Mark does.

Mark’s Recommendations

  • Be humble.
  • If you’re not 100% certain of something, then don’t say you are.
  • Words matter. Don’t underestimate their power.
  • The 3 critical principles of cybersecurity are: Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability or the CIA triad.
  • Stay open to all possibilities and new learning opportunities.
  • Clip: Wil Wheaton actor from Star Trek, The Next Generation, answering the question of how he dealt with being called a nerd. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04WJEEb33CY
  • Being nerdy may attract some bullies, but there are many nerds doing amazing things. Be nerdy!
  • Seize the opportunity to be a teacher’s assistant. If you have advanced knowledge on a topic, share it.
  • If you do something, do it to the best of your ability.
  • Learn what you can from any class, even if you think you already know much of the material or you don’t see the point of it.
  • Be an A player.
  • Follow infosec resources on Twitter. Check out who Mark follows!  
  • Your journey into cybersecurity may be gradual and then sudden.
  • CISSP is a certification that holds a lot of weight when you look to become a cybersecurity consultant. It’s instrumental to get into or move up in the cybersecurity field.
  • In life you can’t always be 100% sure before you commit to something.
  • You’re going to apply to a lot of job openings and you won’t get a response from many. Don’t let that dishearten you.
  • Job postings are wish lists, made by committee. You can’t meet all requirements mentioned on a job posting. Don’t let that deter you from applying to your dream job, even if you only meet 50% of the requirements. You can learn what you’re missing. Put yourself out there!
  • Don’t lie on your resume or during an interview. You’re building trust during the hiring process. Stay honest.
  • Leverage your references during the job application process.
  • Grow your network.
  • Communication and collaboration are crucial skills in cybersecurity! Learn to tailor your message to your audience.
  • Be a life-long learner. In security, you have to keep learning about the threat and technology landscape.
  • Consider the option of learning application security and how to write secure code. An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure.
  • Success is a process and never an end-state. Keep doing what you can do to make an impact.
  • Be grateful for everything, even your humble beginnings, and all the people who had a positive influence on you. Don’t take anything for granted.
  • Be like Mister Rogers. Embody the attitude of helping others.
  • Give back to your community.

Resources & References

Biography

Joseph Mark Fitzner is an experienced cybersecurity specialist focused on web-application penetration testing and red teaming.  Mark has worked as a consultant and in-house security tester in various industries such as healthcare, finance, retail, industrial, and local government.  Mark currently serves as Principal Cybersecurity Specialist at PRA Health Sciences, a global Contract Research Organization supporting the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries.  Mark’s broad background over the last 15 years consists of information technology administration, cybersecurity administration, and security assessment work.  This broad range of roles has provided a strong foundation for Mark’s current focus on security testing and white-hat exploitation.  Mark earned his degree from East Carolina University (Bachelor of Science – Industrial Technology with a Network Security focus). Mark currently maintains the following GIAC certifications: GXPN, GWAPT, GPEN, GMON. Mark also maintains a current CISSP certification, and previously held MCSE, CCNP, and CCNAS certifications.

Credits

Created with the support of T&T Creative Group.

Music by Wolves: “Life Stories”, “Kenya”, “We Make It”

Cathy Olieslaeger

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