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Working in Cyber Security: “You need to have confidence in yourself”

What is it like to work in cyber security? We ask some of the members of the team in Symantec. Today, we hear from Aishwarya Lonkar, a Threat Analysis Engineer based in Pune, India.


How long have you been in this role?

I have been in this profession for around five years. I got recruited to Quick Heal Technologies as an Associate Threat Analysis Engineer after graduating college. I was with Quick Heal for around two years, and then joined Symantec. I have been with Symantec for approximately three years.

How did you come to work in the field of cyber security?

Well, as I approached my graduation from university, I never thought I would be working in this profession. I had done a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Engineering and Telecommunications, which is quite different from the profession I am in now. When campus interviews were going on in my university I was not selected by many of the companies that were on campus, but Quick Heal saw potential in me for the field of cyber security. I am glad that other companies didn’t select me in that campus drive as their openings were in no way related to cyber security. During those campus drives I felt like something was wrong with me or that I was not quite good enough to crack those interviews but today, five years later, I realize that I was meant to be a malware researcher, as Quick Heal was the only company on campus that was hiring malware researchers. You might call it destiny, which just proves that things work out in the end. Today, I am very satisfied with where I have landed. I currently work with the Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) team as a Threat Analysis Engineer where I get to work on almost all prevalent and new threats, which is quite challenging and motivating. And, believe me, these challenges improve your skills a lot.

As a Threat Analysis Engineer in the IPS team I basically work on providing signatures to block malicious traffic, which may be from malware, exploit kits etc. Along with this I also work on providing file-based signatures for malicious samples. This profession involves being up-to-date on the latest threats that are in the field and providing solutions for blocking them so that our customers remain safe from malicious behavior on their machines.

“No matter who you are, or what your profession or qualification is, there is always a way into the area of cyber security”

What advice would you give to someone who wants a job like yours?

I was the person who was brought into this profession but only after coming into cyber security did I realize the importance of it in almost all professions. No matter who you are, or what your profession or qualification is, there is always a way into the area of cyber security. If you have an interest in this profession, try to stay updated on the latest trends when it comes to exploitation, malware etc. Beginners should try online courses, as this is a profession where you need to learn by yourself. And there is no end to learning. Every time you analyze a new sample you learn something new.

Is the course you studied at university relevant to the job you have now?

I would say it is around five to 10 percent related to the job I have now, but I have learned a lot since I started working. Cyber security is and will remain a challenging career.

What do you think are three qualities someone who wants to work in a role like yours needs to have?

Most important is being patient, as analyzing malware is not always straightforward. You need to find ways to dig into it, which can be time consuming, but once you have torn the samples to pieces, believe me, there isn’t a more satisfying feeling.

You need to have confidence in yourself so you can define the malicious and not malicious behaviors of the files you are working with. If you lose confidence, you land in a pit of problems.

You should also always have the ambition to learn new things, and you should stay updated on the new trends and techniques malware is using to evade detection.

@Credits: Medium - Symantec

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