The Audit

A Veteran’s Journey into Cybersecurity with Clifton Robinson

January 29, 2024 IT Audit Labs Season 1 Episode 34
The Audit
A Veteran’s Journey into Cybersecurity with Clifton Robinson
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

It should come as no surprise that building a team can be challenging for cybersecurity professionals. However, we've found that individuals who have served in the military often possess a unique focus and drive, setting them apart in the cyber world. 

Clifton Robinson, a former Army logistician and healthcare market analyst, joins our team to discuss his journey to becoming a cybersecurity professional.  

Topics covered: 

  • How military service helps individuals transition into cybersecurity 
  • Why employers appreciate military service in cybersecurity candidates 
  • Why are veterans drawn to the field of cybersecurity? 
  • How joining the military changed Clifton’s life 
  • The importance of mentorship and networking for veterans 

If you're a veteran considering a career in cybersecurity or seeking a fresh perspective on the cybersecurity industry, don't miss the latest episode of The Audit! 

Speaker 1:

Welcome everybody to the show. The audit by it audit labs. I'm joined as always by Eric Brown, and we've got our guests today. Clifton, clifton, we want to welcome you to the show. First off, give us a brief overview. Who are you? Where'd you come from? What are you working on now, kind of all things, high level, oh, awesome so a little bit about myself.

Speaker 2:

I'm a recent college graduate from the University of Minnesota. Prior to that, I spent a couple years in finance and was in the army for about three years. Before I decided to join the army, I was in healthcare market analysis for about a decade, and that's just a little bit about me. I'm in cybersecurity right now and I'm a job hunting basically.

Speaker 1:

Love it. Clifton, yeah, we obviously wanted to bring you on here because of a wealth of knowledge, but you know, more specifically, to dive into your, your military background and how that ties into Cybersecurity. You know we see a lot of trends and you know one of them. We'd love to see military background. You know I also came from the military as well. I was in the army or, excuse me, the Marines, the army for you. But I can't believe.

Speaker 3:

I just did that I'm John. Clifton. You converted of Clifton.

Speaker 1:

I cannot believe I just did that. I got to recompose.

Speaker 3:

Well, while you're recomposing, I got a quick aside about Clifton, so, clifton Certainly you as well, nick. We've been working together about almost a year Clifton, I think right and the first time Clifton joined us on a team meeting. Clifton is introducing himself and he is all draped out in 49ers gear. He's got the 49ers background behind him and he just started day one minute one. He starts giving people crap about the Vikings and the 49ers. So I thought it was hilarious. But now we give Clifton our time about the 49. Doesn't look like we're gonna be able to do that this year Because they're gonna win the circle, as we say.

Speaker 1:

But Go Niners. All right, clifton. So you know, kind of the first thing starting out here, one of the questions. You know you said you were in the army. I also have a military background. I was in the Marine Corps for four years and you know we want one understand a little bit more about you. What made you join the military? What was your mindset? You know, was it for a career after where you're thinking you're gonna be in the military for your whole career? Just curious on why you joined the military and why he chose the army.

Speaker 2:

Um, so I was looking for a career change. I kind of had an interest in tech and I wanted to go back to school to kind of, you know, explore that option, and military provided the best means of me doing that. Um, so I Join, joined the arm. I just basically this is what happened. It's funny story. One day I just decided to start looking into, you know, the age limits, because I'm pushing 30, so I'm like 29 and a half at this point. Initially I was gonna go Air Force, okay, and they tell us two months too old. I'm like darn. So I was between the um, the army and then the Navy and I decided the army because I couldn't swim at the time.

Speaker 1:

I love it. I didn't want to take a chance, nothing.

Speaker 2:

He didn't join the Marines. I Was, I just missed the age limit for that too, so that was kind of 28. I think yeah. So it ended up being the army and I was in the army for three years. I didn't really completely Fulfill my contract because I got injured the very first day of a it and basically at that point I was Transitioning out the military. It just took some time because you know the paperwork and also the recovery process and such. But I was definitely looking for a career change. So that's what led me to join the army.

Speaker 1:

Where were you? Where'd you spend more? So your time being stationed Fort Irwin, california, nice, what part of California is for Irwin, mojave Desert is okay, because I know I spent some time at 29 palms which like bottom by Joshua tree, and yeah, there's not much to do out there, that's for sure. So everybody takes it, partakes and all kinds of bad things they shouldn't be doing.

Speaker 2:

but you know when, when you're in the army, what was, what was your job, what was your you know MOS so my initial MOS was intelligence, but after the injury I had to reclass because I wouldn't be able to fulfill kind of all the duties of that MOS. So I was reclassed into logistics and then I'll send to the training center, which is Basically where they send soldiers who are recovering from injuries. So they're not this is a non deploying duty station and also those who do not want to deploy so they can spend more time with their family.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, there's a lot that goes into it and you know I know a lot of different Marines that spend some time, similar to you. You know, being injured of. You know, unfortunately that's a part of the gig. But throughout you know the three years that you spent. Do you think that the military direct that lead you, you know, to your career Path? Now, how did that help you, you know, when you were, more specifically, when you were transitioning, do you think did you draw back to your military experience?

Speaker 2:

You know going to school and whatnot, the military definitely changed my life completely because of the Schedule. Oh yeah, since I've been in the military, I am completely routine. I know every what I'm doing every 30 minutes of every day. Like I have a calendar even that my partner uses to kind of know what I have Planned on for the day, just kind of hey, whatever you want me to do, throw it on a calendar, you don't have to tell me. I'm always checking the calendar and such so that you're not a minute late. Well, seriously. So it just makes life so much easier for me, right? Great, I even have the time I get up and the time I go to bed. Sounds bad how much time I spend with my son, but don't judge me, I get it. Make sure that you know. I know what I'm doing every day, and so so that was one huge benefit about the military, and it really helped when I went back to college, because Initially, when I went to school in 2000, versus going back in 2019, it's a completely different atmosphere and learning, teaching how they teachers, completely different.

Speaker 1:

So I had kind of a similar experience to I. I went in when I was 20, I started school and was gonna go the officer route because I always wanted to join from a little kid. You know, I draw all the way back to 9-11, and I'll never forget when Bush was talking about invading Iraq and you know. So on after 9-11 and I, I remember Seeing the Marines and the army, you know, going in and I was like I'm gonna do that. I got to go, do that, you know. And when I went to school and I, you know, kind of like what you were saying, the different Style of teaching, whatnot, and I was like the one am I doing here this is not for me right now and Left, and that basically that same day, went to a, the Marine recruiter, and basically said when can I ship out? Let's, let's rock and roll? So Did that, and then, four years later, use the GI bill to to go to school and reap those benefits after all those experiences. So I agree, though, with you the Regiment of being, you know, disciplined in your time, and I think I still do that to this day. I have a notepad right here and I write down all my tasks for for the client throughout the day, what I want to get completed if, for whatever reason, it doesn't, goes to the next day's list. But I have those tasks written out and if a meeting arises, you know I'm I want to be early right. So I feel I feel that from you as well from a from a military movie standpoint.

Speaker 3:

What do you guys got? What's your favorite movie?

Speaker 1:

Oh, oh man one heartbreak red, just high on the list with Clint Eastwood. Okay, that's a good one. There's been a bunch of recent ones. What is it? 12 hours of Benghazi was a good one, but yeah, there's a bunch of old ones. How could you go wrong with top gun and all that stuff too? Sure, I like rows of engagement.

Speaker 2:

That's a good pick.

Speaker 1:

How about yourself, Eric? You have something that was on top of your mind.

Speaker 3:

Top of mind for me is full metal jacket, but a close second is courage under fire with Denzel Washington and Megaion.

Speaker 1:

This is kind of weird, but I'm glad you brought a full metal jacket because that's kind of a weird Christmas movie for me. Ever since I was in the Marines I've watched it every Christmas day. I usually don't get through it, but I started because of the when they're at boot camp in the movie. Oh yeah, I think it was for Christmas.

Speaker 3:

It's like two movies, right, it's like the first half and the second half. I've probably watched the first half 100 times and maybe the second half like 15 times.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because Gunny is. He's just a legendary in that beginning part.

Speaker 3:

You know, with him I, he was a real drill sergeant as. I understand it, and he was on set training the actor and the actor got sick again, as I understand it. And they just asked him to fill in.

Speaker 1:

But he was actually in the Marine Corps for I think he was a staff sergeant and they honorably ranked him to Gunnery Sergeant for all the work he was doing for the Marine Corps out of the Marine Corps, for all the mail call show and all that. So he got earned. Then again, don't fact check me, that could be wrong but he did earn the rank Gunnery Sergeant. So yeah, he did. He was a cool guy for sure.

Speaker 3:

Just as you look at your careers right, you've done different things both of you along the way and it's ended up in cybersecurity. Your background, clifton finance. You did some some work there, a little bit of IT and then, of course, the military and now you're really focused on cyber and want to make cyber your career. Looking back, what's different about cyber or what's different about cyber right now that makes that or has that that you want to have that be your career.

Speaker 2:

I think that what cyber provides me is continuous education. I am all about wanting to protect myself and my family and, with the evolving threats that we have that exist, I believe cyber, like security, is like the best way to go. I want to know what's out there and how to protect me and my family and friends.

Speaker 3:

So that that kind of sounds like a blue team mindset, right when you're, you want. You want to understand what the attack surfaces are, what the threats are, and then really learn the best way to protect yourself. Maybe your company, your family, what have you? Would that be right, correct, yeah, and is your role today in cyber, the entity that you work for? What are you doing for them day to day?

Speaker 2:

So for day to day I primarily respond to any incidents, tickets and I have a few projects just kind of making sure that any there's any vulnerabilities, that they're getting cleaned up.

Speaker 3:

And what do you want to do? You say you're job hunting right now. What is it you're looking for?

Speaker 2:

So I'm still looking to stay in the incident response kind of sock analysis role. That's kind of where I've been doing most of my studying and where my work experience has been.

Speaker 3:

Got it and maybe just to clarify why are you looking to leave the organization?

Speaker 2:

Why am I looking to leave? It was a temporary position, so sure.

Speaker 3:

Contract will be ending here soon, so and as you look at where you want to go with your career, where do you see cyber going over the next 10 years?

Speaker 2:

That's a very interesting question. I have my thoughts on it. You know, a lot of things are done remotely and there's a lot of providers that kind of provide infrastructure and defense for a lot of organizations. I do believe within the next 10 years, cyber defense will be more hybrid. There's going to be some things that need to be in house for protecting the company and there's some things that you will allow a third party to manage for you, gotcha.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and it is really close right. Cyber is the fifth domain of warfare. So even in the private sector, we're still interacting with military adversaries. As far as countries that want to do harm to the US, especially working in government, seeing those threats coming in on a daily basis from North Korea, china, iran, right, those those countries that are actively seeking to gain a foothold in the US, right, but both of you come across that almost on a daily basis, I would think.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I specifically, you know and I'm going back to the military experience here and this is one of the reasons why I wanted to get into cybersecurity is because I was a field radio operator. So when I was deployed to Afghanistan, I carried a crypto device it was like probably about this big and had crypto keys on it and we would fill the radios with the crypto so we could have, you know, secure trends transmissions throughout the regions and every every time we had to roll this over every week. So after a combat, you know tour in the area, leaving the wire. You know we come back and you know we do our debriefs in the COC and when I'd walk in there, you know all dirty and dusty and sweaty from a week of sleeping in a truck or whatever, we'd go in there and I talked to the high ranking officials or whatever, and I'd always see all these screens up on the on the wall and maps and threat maps and they're you're constantly monitoring all that, just in the war region but then also worldwide. So throughout my whole time I was, I was seeing this happening and, you know, throughout my experiences in the military, you know, drew me to what we're doing. Now Back to your specific question, eric, of seeing it every day. It really pulls from each other Right and kind of like what you're saying you know we have, you know, boots on the ground, but then we have, you know, us on the keyboards now helping and patrolling and protecting the whole world really. So it's really an interesting landscape to see it evolving for sure.

Speaker 3:

And do either of you participate in networking groups? Just trying to think through how people who might be listening to this, coming from a military background that want to get into technology, want to get into cyber. Are there avenues that that might be approachable for them? Support groups what have you and you've both had different ways of starting your cyber careers. Do you want to talk about that? Maybe share some advice on how people could potentially get started?

Speaker 2:

Well, I'll speak from my experience. What I've done so far so that was probably where I was the weakest at initially when I was looking into joining Cyber was building my network and kind of meeting more people who were like-minded from the same background. But since then that's been something I've been primarily focused on and that has generated a ton of opportunities, a ton of educational opportunities since then and I think that's probably one of the biggest things is having a networking group, because you also then can find a mentor and then you can kind of have a more guided and better understanding of which path requires kind of what education to kind of become more of an expert in and such. And that was kind of where I was the weakest. When I joined Cyber Security, I just I didn't fully understand how much was encapsulated within. But once I attained a mentor, then it's like oh okay, I like doing incident responses and doing some analysis and stuff like that, more so than I like doing this. So now since then I've been able to focus my education specifically on that instead of being all over the place.

Speaker 1:

I actually had a really similar experience to that, Clipton. Actually, when you're getting out of the Marines, they require you to go to a two-week class before you can exit, and that's more so probably probably for the public safety as well, because you're kind of a wild man or woman getting out. So they want to make sure you're ready to enter the civilian world again. But they're also making sure that you're prepared, they're arming you with the tools either to go to school or to get a job. And throughout those two-week experience I was actually linked up with a gentleman in Minneapolis when I lived in Minnesota, that he reached out and we linked up with each other and when I got back he became my mentor and he really helped guide me to not only different groups but to start school and then everything else that goes on to coming into the civilian sector again healthcare and whatnot but more specifically to school and getting into school, getting a job. And because, Clipton, what you were saying, there's so many avenues in cybersecurity or an IT in general, but then you have a whole vast landscape in cybersecurity of what direction you want to go to and I kind of became one of those odd ducks that actually kind of likes compliance, so I spend a lot more of my time there. But social engineering was one of the big ones that he and I talked about and that still to this day is probably my favorite niche area, I guess you'd say of cybersecurity. But I think, Clipton and I'm rambling here, one of the best things a vet can do getting out of the military we have so many tools that were armed throughout the military, but getting a direct mentor, I think, is probably one of the best things that you can do, Definitely.

Speaker 2:

I wish I did it sooner.

Speaker 3:

Where did you find your mentor Clipton?

Speaker 2:

The University of Minnesota has a mentor program, and even though he was more in database management, he was kind of telling me about the different IT groups locally and such. And then another thing I also did most of this I did in my senior year, to be honest with you is that when we have guest speakers, I would immediately connect with them and just ask them a whole bunch of questions. So that's how I started to build my network.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's excellent, clipton. That's great advice for anybody really, and I kind of want to your job hunting, now it's already been brought up. Do you think that? Are you in your resume right? Or when you're having these interviews or discussions with anybody could be a mentor or, you know, for a new job, are you drawing to that military experience or are they touching on that? Are you seeing that as a gold star? Right, I did this and they're seeing it as something they really want to bring into their organization.

Speaker 2:

Definitely. It's definitely a topic of conversation always Because I do draw a lot of how I approach this field from my experiences in the military. So Fort Irwin is the National Training Center for the Army and we did a lot of field training 10 months out of the year for like 26 to 27 days of the month. So we treated those information as hostile territory. So we're going through learning how to do things, what not to do and such. So having that kind of training and background it also provides them with information on how you know you do with adversity. You know if you have any leadership qualities because you know if you spend so much time in the military, eventually you're going to be put in a leadership position and sent to leadership, not like training where you know become a sergeant or a sat sergeant and such. So I do draw off a lot of my experience in the military when I'm having an interview and discussing with the interview.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you're much more apt to have a quicker mindset, snap to judgment quickly and you know and understand and carry those thought processes out. So I definitely align with that as well. I spoke, you know, earlier about that mentorship. That was one of the best things I did. But when I got to school I went to the University of Maryland. You know I did that online but they were a direct partnership with the military. They actually had satellite small college you know Merceau offices in buildings on military bases in the Marine Corps so you could go to school, you know, while you're on the base. I was specifically stationed in Japan but there was a couple you know of those colleges on there on the base. So that was throughout my military. You know career. I knew kind of like I wanted to. I deployed earlier in my career so I knew I wanted to get out and do that and then I jumped out and when I got what got into school the military was one of the biggest best things I had ever done because I was Clifton spoke to about the timeliness, quick judgment and you are probably one of the hardest workers because you're older and you're going to school now. So you're 25, 28, 30, going to college and there's 18 year olds. You know I went online but the kids that were in on our video chats were, you know, we're younger, so you kind of have that Billy Madison effect. But yeah, it was one of the best experiences and it really made me grow up quickly Because before I was in the military I briefly touched on that I wanted to go to sir. I started school and I wasn't ready. You know, at that point, when I completed my military experience and you know, for that I started school and it was much different, much more different I was. I was studying, you know, as I was on on track and you know it went smooth and quickly. So that was, you know, the military did wonders for me. And then also to get in the career path, once I was done with school Clifton, we asked I asked you about that? How is that aiding you and getting a job? And I think you know employers they love to see military experience because generally they don't have to worry about you. You know they know you're going to be on time, you're going to complete your tasks and if you are working for a specific client, you know that that works with other clients or is, you know, acquiring other businesses, whatever it is, they love to see military experience on their staff. So you know if we're hiring and looking at resumes every time we see somebody in the military, I usually want to look at that one first, not because I'm just interested in the military, but I know that he probably has character that we want on our team, or she or she?

Speaker 2:

I definitely will concur. I mean, your day becomes very. You know a lot of repetition. You know you get up at 5am, you're at PT at 6, you go grab breakfast, then you're working from eight to four or whatever it is, depending on your MOS, and then you know you get a few hours to yourself and, depending on you, know what's going on. But the thing is is that you understand routine and everything becomes second nature to you. So then, once you start applying that to, like you know cybersecurity, you know you got these tasks that you want to accomplish. It's easy to kind of put them in order of, like what's most critical and you know allocating your time properly and such.

Speaker 3:

I degree and you know, having been in the CISO role in a few different organizations, as we go out and look for talents, those people that have had that military background do tend to have that discipline and I think it's easier for them to maybe pick up from the chaos if you're dropped into a sock type of setting where there's lots of things coming at you at a point in time, able to triage that and make sense out of the chaos Maybe not better than somebody in a non-military background, but probably more quickly of being able to come up to speed if it's something that you've never seen before and and Cliff, that I know that was the case too with you right, you were on board it. And then the next thing you know you're seeing tickets and you're seeing lots of IOCs coming through and Working on, on triaging them, which you know that's. That's been great fun all on its own.

Speaker 2:

Kind of makes me think about kind of what you learn in college versus kind of what you do when you're actually on the job. So college does a good job of introducing you to Different aspects of technology but as far as, like whatever path you decide to walk, there has to be you have to be self-motivated to want to go and learn that information to put yourself in position to be a qualified candidate. You know you take I took a security and networking at the university. You know I got certificates in both, but those were just really just a surface level. So you know I had to go spend time outside of classroom settings, even when I got my first internship outside of the work in classroom setting Excuse me where I had to go dig in a little bit deeper and kind of understand what is expected of me in this field. And you know, what do my employers want me to kind of already know and what they expect me to learn on the job?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's always gonna bring up something similar to that. Clifton, is there something that you can touch on that you you wish that you would have learned in school? That you know Probably taught yourself now, but is there something that was missing in school, that was big, that you're like wow, they can't believe they didn't.

Speaker 2:

You know, go over that or touch on that so, yes, but I had conversations with the program director actually about Because he taught my C programming class and he was big on understanding C. So there's a lot of C classes and it was implemented and throughout, like when we did a database because we have to take a class and kind of every path, and I had these conversations with their professors. You know this, a whatever you want to do, you kind of going to have to go do a little bit more research and understanding. There's only so much a college, a traditional university, can do for you. Now I think if I went to a trade school or it's like more geared towards we're going to teach you Cybersecurity and that was an option for me. But, being that at some point I did want to get into management, I wanted to get my four-year and possibly eventually go get my graduate degree, but that's why I took that path. But they understood we had conversations about you know this is what we can provide you, but you also have to be diligent and you know doing your own research as well. I'm a resource for you if you need help and I think that's so important.

Speaker 3:

Clifton, the networking side of any career, specifically information security, cyber security, the the connectedness of that we have amongst each other as humans. Cybersecurity as a whole is is a male dominated, unfortunately, career, right, but I I have found it to be a particularly welcoming group of people, or a community of people, with different backgrounds, you know, different upbringings, different thoughts, but all coming together around a common goal of protecting the organizations that we work for. In the next case, as a professional liar, you know trying to try to Social engineer and and maybe expose some some weaknesses, but, right, all for the greater good. And there are lots of community meet-ups in the area, right, you don't have to just be around a big city, they're online. I Personally think the interpersonal connection, if you can meet in person, is a little bit better. But even going back to the old school, the 2600 magazine if I don't know if you guys are too young to to know what I'm talking about with, but this used to be a magazine on on freaking or Phone hacking. Right, the, the, the brown boxes, the gray boxes back in the day when you'd have pay phones and put quarters into them or Whatever denomination, dimes and such. You would have the, the ability to emulate a tone that would sound like it, the, the phone was receiving Payments and you could make long-distance calls by Replaying those those tones. I remember in high school I'm going back a couple of decades but there was a payphone outside of an arcade we used to hang out at and you could use the phone and make a free phone call if you, if you stuck a Paperclip, unfolded paperclip into the receiver and then pressed it up against the Phone itself and kind of creating a circuit grounding it, but you could bypass I. So just kind of some of that old school hacking. But anyway, bring that up, because this magazine called 2600 Would have meetups for different areas in the back and it would be like you know the back corner of the subway station or you know this place in a mall, and it was people of a similar interest, different backgrounds, meeting up to talk about at that time hacking but security. And it's the same way today, online forums, right, the, the, the DEF CON group is a huge community of of hackers and security enthusiasts and most cities have DEF CON meetups throughout the year. It's a great place to meet other security enthusiasts. There's local walk picking meetups and as a fun one, where where you can go in and it's people that are just really passionate about lockpicking and a lot of information security people are, so it's a great way to just get in and chat and and and meet some other people in a non-structured format. But I think finding those venues To go out and make those connections is something that they never teach us in school. Right there there's maybe there is now, there wasn't when I went to school or just a class on networking. And how do you present yourself when you're networking and and it's hard, right, you go in, you're by yourself, you're walking into potentially a room of a bunch of people that are there for the same purpose, and it can be awkward and difficult right, it still is for me when I go to networking events and I don't know anybody there. Just well, what am I gonna talk about? You know, and, and I think we all face the same thing. So I I really think that you Peace is important for people who are looking to make their way into the field from a career perspective, of just getting out there and getting exposed to others in the community. That might not be able to help them that day, but might have a connection to, a connection that can help them.

Speaker 2:

It's funny you speak on that because I had my first networking event this past fall in Austin, texas. Like you said, the IT community they're very supportive. So they ripped me a new one. They said, no, that's not how you introduce yourself. You know, you got a ton of C-SOLs around here. You got some CIOs, some CTOs regardless of where you're at in your career, properly introduce yourself and you know, talk about what you do know and what you're capable of. You know introductions are so huge and key so I got a wake-up call on my first day.

Speaker 1:

We got to go, we got to step back to that real quick. Clinton, what was the setting that you're in Like when you're introducing yourself as a small group? Was it a giant group or what was the scenario or situation?

Speaker 2:

So we were at the hotel bar the day before it actually started. So most of these people have gone through like some management or some C-suite executive academy together. So I was coming along with the Fran to kind of get introduced to. So I'm there. They said, hey, who are you? I said I'm Clinton Robinson. I just left it at that and then everybody just stopped and looked at me. I'm like oh shoot, what did I do? Like no, no, no, no.

Speaker 3:

He probably told me he was the 49ers fan.

Speaker 2:

I would have lost him then A lot of people from East Texas you don't want to say 49ers in Texas.

Speaker 3:

Or in.

Speaker 2:

Minnesota. I was okay in Minnesota. Nobody's a Vikings fan.

Speaker 1:

It's funny you were kind of bringing this up, Clifton, and the reason I wanted to jump back to that is because I think that is a direct relationship to the military, that we tend to not be descriptive like that. Like you said your name, and that was that right. You don't. My name was, you know, Clinton Robinson. I was in the Army. I did all this and this and this. You didn't want to, you know, show about it around and I tend to do the same thing. Don't ever bring up military experience unless you're specifically asked or you know, for personal gain is a job in the career or whatnot. But I thought that was the reason I wanted to go back to that, because I probably would have done the same thing. You know, you get a brief background of what I do in IT, but I wouldn't have brought up anything else similar to what you did. So that was funny. But I was like I was imagining it was like a room with like a couple hundred people and you're up on a podium and you just said I'm Clinton Robinson and walked off.

Speaker 3:

No, no, no, no, that would have been a mic drop.

Speaker 2:

That's all you need to know. Definitely would have been funny.

Speaker 3:

When you go to these events, do you talk about how many cats you have, or what do you do to break dice? I was actually waiting for the cats to get brought up.

Speaker 1:

That was how long are we into this? Because that must be a record. No, I leave the cats out of it, I leave it all out, and I kind of learned as a social engineer. I like to watch in the back and in the rear with the beer.

Speaker 3:

I like that saying.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so no, I don't tend to not bring up the cats and I like to keep on. Keep it on track, I guess.

Speaker 3:

I don't know if you know this, but I think Nick's talking about getting one of those hairless cats. You know the hypoallergenic, that they're completely shaved or hairless or whatever they are. Good luck with that, Nick. How much of work. What do you guys do for hobbies? What are you guys into?

Speaker 2:

My hobbies currently tech related. I'm really learning pen testing right now, so that's kind of been something that I'm trying to become more purple team than just strictly blue, because I kind of want to understand both sides of the coin. I think it will make me a better defender if I knew how to attack weaknesses, kind of kind of the same approach I had when I was in sports.

Speaker 1:

To be honest with you, I definitely have been spending a lot more of my recent time lockpicking. We had some personal meetups with the whole gang I was maybe a month or two ago and I got a new lockpicking set about a month ago and from tool is it and I've been doing a lot of that. So I've been enjoying the more off the computer and learning more hands on experience for social engineering and whatnot and that was actually something I was going to bring up before about what school doesn't teach you is probably not enough hands on. You know I spent a lot of time you know just writing papers and you know speeches, which is good, but there was just from my standpoint there wasn't enough hands on either with that could be a lab, that could be a task. You know writing papers and giving speeches is not going to arm you for a sock situation speaking to a client. You know about technical, you know whatever have you in cybersecurity or it in general. But I took more of a hands off approach. I guess more hands on and I've been picking lockpicking quite a bit more have you been successful at it at all. I'm getting more successful at say that it's. Sometimes it takes me a little bit longer. I really want to try to do the. You know, in all the cars nowadays you got the push button. You can get the kit to you know, get that frequency and lock or unlock the vehicle. But I'm kind of scared to try it on one of my own vehicles. My wife and I both of our cars do have the push button, but I'm scared to try it because I don't want to get it locked out and have to go through that whole thing. So we'll see how that goes.

Speaker 3:

The flipper zero there right. Yeah yeah session.

Speaker 2:

Yeah there you go.

Speaker 3:

We did a good podcast on that Clifton with Cam Berkland who walked us through the flipper zero. Yeah, he's a happy to have one too, oh you do.

Speaker 2:

Don't. Don't connect it to your garage opener.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's what cam did. How come Clifton why?

Speaker 2:

Because you can mess up the frequency from the actual openers. Yeah, it took me a second to fix it. I had to like completely reset it and reprogram it, don't do that, the key pairs get out of sync. So military experience, I did do some stuff with the IT staff because when we're out in the box, the logistics persons that really needed once all the supplies are gathered and accounted for, but just knowing how many different ways threats can attack you, now those are more human simulations, but if you can take the same mindset into, you know, into an IT environment, then you kind of think about like, okay, you know, you think about the firewall, the networking, and you know Nick was talking about social engineering you just kind of think of all the different avenues that attackers can use to, you know, penetrate your networking stuff. So I think that's what the military kind of really made me hone on. I was like, well, how would I approach this and how would I defend it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I agree, clifton, I oftentimes find myself taking a step back. If it's conversation I had with you know, eric, or you, clifton, or a client, and you know I'll draw back to you. Know, maybe, how would I handle that situation. You know years ago in the military and what tools I was armed with then. You know to handle that situation. Now Eric touched on it too. You know, if you're in a sock situation, you might think a little bit more quickly. You know, and I think that's all true I think you're just the fog of war. You think clearly under pressure and or have that ability. I think that that is a unique experience that I've had as well, where you know you could be getting a ton of tickets and other people you know, you don't have to be in the military to be able to work well under pressure. I think it's something natural that might come to somebody in the military because you've done it, real world you know. But if a ton of tickets come in per se, you might do a better job of delegating tasks. Understand what needs to happen now and what can wait. I had a pretty wise IT guy once tell me that you know if there are a ton of tickets were coming in and I was delegating tasks and you know we're somebody who's getting a little hot and bothered and I heard him tell this other guy is anybody dying? And he didn't tell it directly to me, but I heard him say that and it's kind of rain, true to me now, and I think that's kind of ties into the whole thing because we tend to get hyper focused, work a little too quickly and things can get missed. So I think that's, you know, part of my takeaway from the military. But just work in general is take that step back or don't be afraid to take that step back, reassess and then dive back in to make sure we've you know if we're securing something, you can take a clean step out and make sure that the areas you know secure for for what we've been working on.

Speaker 3:

That reminds me. I was just going back to my Thompson Reuter days, and this is probably close to two decades ago. We were working on a. At the time, I was leading a group that was essentially responsible for infrastructure projects across Thompson. This was pre-Reuters. It was Thompson Financials data center environments and I was based in Manhattan and we were up in the Boston office working on a problem One of the financial systems that was hosted out of Boston. There was a problem with it. The person who was a senior director at the time you might have been a VP, I think he was a senior director. Those names, mike I'll keep his last name hidden in case this gets back to him but he was all worked up and he was responsible for getting the service back up and didn't have really anything to do with my team. He needed us to build something out at the time and he was animated in this war room that we were in. He's like Eric, we need this done. Why isn't this done, whatever? Whatever I looked and I said well, a lack of preparation on your end doesn't constitute an emergency on mine. It was the wrong thing to say at the time because that got him more heated and I had to hear about it much later, but it just is that mentality around preparation and being responsible for your own kit, for your own group, your own self, and not passing that on or trying to shift the blame to another part of the organization. And I think, as we talk about people that do come from that military background, the sense of responsibility is clearly there and that's very much appreciated.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. I totally agree.

Speaker 2:

My best piece of advice, as I mentioned earlier, is building a network and getting a mentor and be prepared to really do your due diligence and educating yourself on the field. I mean, I think that's the most important thing. A lot of times, people say they want to do something, but don't understand how much work it truly takes when you want to specialize in something. So this is what you want to do. Be prepared to really dive in.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I would say something similar to what Clifton said Get that mentor, get somebody to teach you what it takes to get to that final destination Many years ago, I think, somebody that was hiring a new employee. They want somebody that's good at a lot of things, right, a jack of all trades. I think it's a lot of times in the not only the military, but outside, with us doing the work in IT now they want somebody that's good at everything, but maybe they're really good at another thing, right, like that's your specialty. You can really hone in on that, and I think that's one piece of advice that I would give to somebody getting out of the military Go to school for cybersecurity or whatever have you, but really pick something and become a master at that and then move on to something else and continue to learn that. But pick something and really, really devote your time and learn that, become really proficient and then continue to learn things around the way. But that's something that can bring great value to an organization, especially if you know something that they don't or somebody else in the organization doesn't already know that you can bring to them. So I think that's a unique experience to just dive in and become really loyal to a specific craft and then hone those tools.

Speaker 3:

I love everything that was said. I'll just leave it with the military. Folks have a one-up because they've gone through that discipline training and I say embrace that, leverage that right. Be five minutes early to the meeting, Be the one who's always there, either early, late, right. The Tiger Woods mentality he's out, he's the first one on the practice screen, he's the last one to leave. Really take ownership of that craft network and when you get that opportunity, really just shine and show them who you are, because that's really gonna carry a lot of weight as you go forward and you have references from those previous points in your career.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, awesome Cliffy. We could go on and on and on. We could sit here and probably crack some beers, keep going, but unfortunately we're to the end here. But we really wanna thank you for jumping on and providing all your knowledge and wisdom that you've gained throughout your career. But once again, thanks for your time and hopefully we can have you on again real soon to go over all these items again and maybe more in depth. This has been the audit by IT Outlet Labs.

Military Background and Career Transition
Career Perspectives in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity Careers and Networking Opportunities
Military Experience and Job Hunting
Networking and Self-Learning in Cybersecurity
Introductions, Hobbies, and Military Experience
Embracing Military Training for Success