Infosec Skills Author Jason Welsh shares his passion for Linux and Cybersecurity
Linux has earned a reputation as perhaps the world’s most trusted open-source operating system. Infosec Skills Author Jason Welsh has been by its side since its infancy, and has mastered not only the OS but the security of it as well.
Decades after its inception, Linux still holds up as one of the most used operating systems in the world. “Linux still dominates IT; it’s everywhere, and I think learning Linux — besides being fun for me as a hobbyist — is definitely a lucrative career for anybody who’s willing to be persistent, learn, and search.”
Jason first stumbled upon Linux while working for a computer reseller after graduating from Clemson in 1992. This was just one year after the system was introduced to the world. Seven years later, Jason landed himself a system admin job at Cisco. His team had the monumental task of switching all of the company’s pre-existing Solaris boxes with Linux replacements. It was then that Jason really began to appreciate the nascent OS’s benefits.
Creating secure, flexible experiences in Linux
Linux’s dominance of IT makes it a crucial system for cybersecurity professionals to understand. Though generally more secure than other operating systems, it’s not impregnable. Jason notes that it’s not always the OS itself, but instead what’s running on top of it that can lead to vulnerabilities.
His courses thus focus on steering clear of security blunders and knowing how to prepare against vector attacks, apply intrusion detection, employ GPG, and properly use SSH. These lessons are invaluable for beginner to intermediate-stage IT and security professionals who want to get serious about becoming CIS admins.
Unlike Windows, Linux does not come with unnecessary buried servers or hidden “open port” networking processes, which means the odds of outside infiltration are far lower. This makes it one of the most secure operating systems — if administered properly. Along with its security, Linux is praised for its flexibility.
“It’s just so highly customizable. I don’t have to install any of this other junk that I don’t need. I control the horizontal and the vertical on Linux,” said Jason. It’s perfect for experimentation-inclined people who enjoy tinkering and learning from experience. Linux is loved because it’s free to use, open-sourced and more reliable than other operating systems, meaning less rebooting and updating. It also supports nearly every major programming language including Python, C/C++, Java, Perl, and Ruby.
Learn from an expert
In addition to practical experience gleaned from his job, Jason is currently Red Hat 7 certified.
“I got my Red Hat certification and that really enabled me to look at Linux from purely the commercial side and how they themselves implement things.” Jason says that staying certified helps keep him up to date with the ever-changing and evolving world of Linux; it’s especially important to him as a teacher and course maker.
Jason’s passion for Linux spans beyond just work. Understanding the popular OS became a fascination, a hobby, and he hopes to one day spend all of his time teaching students the ins and outs of Linux. “It’s just been a second nature for me to give training for various points throughout my career. And I’ve often told my wife when I retire that I’d like to freelance and teach on my own time. I think that would be a pretty fun thing to do.”
Advice for aspiring Linux professionals
For those aspiring to become a CIS admin or IT professional, Jason says that it’s critical to sort through the good and bad information you find on the internet.
“You just have to be persistent when tinkering and say, ‘Hey, this isn’t right. This doesn’t look right. I’m going to keep moving on until I find something that’s correct.’”
Becoming an expert at Linux takes practice and tenacity, but with enough of both, the system can provide the foundation for a long, successful career that lets you unleash your inner creative coder.
About Jason Welsh
Jason Welsh is a DevSecOps (development, security and operations) leader for BrainGu based in North Carolina. He’s worked with Linux since 1994, and has been administering Solaris and Linux systems professionally since 2003. Jason’s certifications include CompTIA Security+, Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Certified Kubernetes Administrator.