I’ve been interviewed for the launch of the ISACA Young Professionals portal that contains a wealth of information for starting and accelerating your career in IT audit and cybersecurity.
I decided to contribute because ISACA played a role in my career development too.
I started attending ISACA London chapter events while I was studying for my Master’s degree in London. Although the university provided a great theoretical foundation on information security, I wanted to know about the real-world challenges that practitioners in the industry were facing.
At the time I had just finished writing my thesis after doing some great research at the university and I wanted to share my findings and the research of my colleagues with the community. The organisers were supportive, so we agreed a day and I delivered a talk on resolving conflicts between security compliance and human behaviour.
It was a rewarding experience as the participants provided some valuable insights and feedback; they helped to bridge the gap between academia and real practical experience. I already had a solid foundation from my postgraduate degree but I was missing was some anecdotes and real life stories about how this could apply in practice. This laid the foundation for my book The Psychology of Information Security.
It worked out for me, but should you get involved in broader activities beyond developing your technical skills? I would say yes.
The value of technical skills and knowledge can’t be overestimated. But there’s another side to this story. Prospective employers are not only looking for technical experts, they want people who are good team players, who can collaborate and communicate effectively with others, who can organise and get things done, who can lead. Getting involved with the community and volunteering gives you the chance to develop and demonstrate these non-technical skills and grow your professional network.
Regardless of where you are on your journey, ISACA provides great opportunities to advance your career through courses, networking and certification programmes, so I highly recommend getting involved!
Read my story on ISACA Blog.
I’ve recently decided to brush up on my programming skills with one of the courses on Udemy. Despite completing a degree in Computer Science back in the day, my recent focus has been away from software development and a lot has changed since I graduated.
At university I studied mathematics and algorithms but actual programming was performed on archaic languages – such as Pascal for high-level and Assembly for low-level programming.
Although they provide a solid foundation, I was looking for something more practical and because of this I ended up taking up Python because of its versatility. Python is not only widely used, but can also be applied to a variety of projects, including data analysis and machine learning.
The course has been very good and Jupyter notebooks with extensive comments and exercises are available for free on GitHub.
You can start applying it in practice straight away or just have some fun with your own pet projects.
If you’re an experienced developer or just want to have some extra practice, I found the below brain teasers quite entertaining:
- Basic coding practice – CodingBat
- Project Euler
- More coding practice – CodeAbbey
- DailyProgrammer – Reddit
- Python Challenge
The course also has a great community, so I highly recommend checking it out.
I just passed the Certified Cloud Security Practitioner (CCSP) exam. It wasn’t easy, but nothing you can’t prepare for.
Apart from the official (ISC)2 guides, here are some of the resources I used in my studies:
- Cloud Security Alliance Security Guidance v4.0
- Cloud Security Alliance Enterprise Architecture
- Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Mobile Computing
- CSA Cloud Controls Matrix
- The ‘Treacherous Twelve’ Cloud Computing Top Threats in 2016
- ENISA Cloud Security Publications
- NIST SP 800-146 Cloud Computing Synopsis and Recommendations
- NIST Special Publication 500-299 Cloud Computing Security Reference Architecture (Draft)
- OWASP Top 10
If you would prefer to add video lectures to your study plan, there’s a free course on Cybrary. For a quick summary, check out these study notes and mindmaps. Also, multiple sets of free flashcards are available on Quizlet.
It is a good idea to do some practice questions: there are books and mobile apps out there to help you with this. Practical experience in cloud security is also essential.
The exam tests your knowledge of the following CCSP domains:
- Architectural Concepts and Design Requirements
- Cloud Data Security
- Cloud Platform and Infrastructure Security
- Cloud Application Security
- Legal and Compliance
The structure and format might change as (ISC)2 continuously revise their exams, so please check the official website to make sure you are up-to-date with the latest developments.
On the day, read the questions carefully. It’s not a time pressured exam (I was done in two hours), so it’s worth re-reading the questions and answers again to make sure you are answering exactly what is being asked. Eliminate the wrong options first and then decide on the best out of the remaining ones.
Finally, my suggestion would be to approach the questions from the perspective of a consultant. What would you recommend in each situation? Don’t go too technical – keep the business needs in mind at all times.
Don’t stress too much about the final result. I’m sure you’ll pass, but even if not on your first attempt, you’ll learn either way! Remember, the knowledge you accumulate in the process of preparing for the test itself has the most value, not the credential.
To support my firm’s corporate and social responsibility efforts, I volunteered to help NSPCC, a charity working in child protection, understand the Internet of Toys and its security and privacy implications.
I hope the efforts in this area will result in better policymaking and raise awareness among children and parents about the risks and threats posed by connected devices.
Toys are different from other connected devices not only because how they are normally used, but also who uses them.
For example, children may tell secrets to their toys, sharing particularly sensitive information with them. This, combined with often insufficient security considerations by the manufacturers, may be a cause for concern.
Apart from helping NSPCC in creating campaign materials and educating the staff on the threat landscape, we were able to suggest a high-level framework to assess the security of a connected toy, consisting of parental control, privacy and technology security considerations.
I’ve recently passed my AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam. In this blog I would like to share some preparation tips that would help you ace it.
Not only practice makes perfect, some hands-on experience is also a prerequisite for the exam. So there is really no way around that! But what if you didn’t have a chance to use your skills on a real-world project yet? No problem! AWS gives you a opportunity to learn how their cloud components work through AWS Free Tier. For one year, you can use Amazon EC2 , Amazon S3, Amazon RDS, AWS IoT and many more free of charge,
You want more guidance? Qwiklabs developed a set of labs that specifically designed to help you prepare for this exam. For a small price, you can complete exercises without even requiring an AWS account or signing up for Free Tier.
I recommend studying AWS Whitepapers to broaden your technical understanding. If you are short on time, focus on these:
- Overview of Amazon Web Services
- Architecting for the Cloud: AWS Best Practices
- How AWS Pricing Works
- Compare AWS Support Plans
AWS developed a freecself-paced Cloud Practitioner Essential course, to help you develop an overall understanding of the AWS Cloud. You will learn basic cloud concepts and AWS services, security, architecture, pricing, and support.
There is also a YouTube channel with free introductory videos and other noteworthy material.
Exam sample questions can help you check your knowledge and highlight areas requiring more study.
Remember, the best preparation for the exam is practical experience: AWS recommend 1+ years of hands-on experience with their technologies.
When you’re ready, go ahead and schedule an exam here.
My book has been translated into Persian by Dr. Mohammad Reza Taghva from Allame Tabatabaee University and Mr. Saeed Kazem Pourian from Shahed University. Please get in touch if you would like to learn more.
Over the past year I’ve worked as a core part of the KPMG’s Global Cyber Strategic Growth Initiative as the lead for service development activities, with a focus on working with member firms to deploy capabilities in order to ensure consistent delivery and quality across key growth areas.
I was responsible for the roll-out of cyber security services that included developing sales and delivery accelerators, accreditation requirements, learning pathways, vendor ecosystem and quality and risk management principles across EMEA, APAC and Americas.
To achieve this, I created a service development framework and worked with numerous stakeholders across the firm’s network: global deployment, service development leads, acquisition leads, risk management and key member firm cyber representatives and regional leads.
I also developed a method for the in-country adoption of deployed capabilities and supported both global and in-country risk team members in the evaluation of risk when taking services for client use.
I ensured the sustainability of deployed capabilities through the implementation and use of delivery frameworks and tools, and assigned ownership for the upkeep of deployed capabilities. I worked with member firms to promote the adoption of prioritised services; developed adoption timelines and targets for deployed service.
One of the existing aspects of the role was alliance, acquisition and investment integration support where I collaborated with the relevant stakeholders to deploy and embed offerings obtained through alliances to member firms while monitoring progress against agreed budgets, milestones, deliverables and benefits for capabilities being deployed.
By the end of the programme, I deployed Cyber Maturity Assessment, Identity and Access Management, Industrial Internet of Things Cyber Security, Privacy and Cyber Incident Response services to 19 countries around the world.
This resulted in achieving significant revenue and market share growth for cyber security services of my firm globally. KPMG International was also named a leader in information security consulting services in 2016 and 2017 according to Forrester Research.