Professional development

Walk a mile in student’s shoes, says Infosec Skills author Matt Carey

May 18, 2020 by Jeff McCollum

When you enter the Infosec Skills CCNA Cyber Ops Learning Path rest assured author Matt Carey places a high priority on delivering material with the student’s questions and needs top of mind. This networking and security pro looks back on his years as a student for inspiration when developing courses.

“It’s as simple as trying as hard as I can to explain things in the same way I would like them explained to me,” said Matt. “I know everybody learns differently. But if you can break things down and add some color to what you’re teaching, then the student will be able to retain the material and absorb the important elements easier.”

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A passion for helping others led to developing courses

Matt is a member of Infosec’s LX Labs team. For more than a decade, he has worked in networking and security. He got his networking start working for a Cisco partner. That led to involvement in basic core route switching and wireless networking. Matt eventually evolved into security work which became his niche as a consultant. Over the years he gained experience by working on customer networks as a consultant. He enjoyed the variety of working in both network security and cybersecurity. Through it all, he always had a passion for helping others and sharing his knowledge and experience at work. That sparked is interest in developing online courses. 

“I make it a point to do the best job possible of explaining things and helping people understand some of the concepts to keep them focused on their networking and security learning path. Now my main passion is coming up with new course ideas so I can share my experience and expertise more broadly,” said Matt. “As you learn more about a topic you start to pull back more layers of an onion and look to take the information beyond the textbook and apply it to the real world. I’m always looking for a real-world context because that is what the student is going to need.”

Diving into the foundations of cybersecurity

You will find the CCNA Cyber Ops Learning Path packed with 11 courses, 67 videos and hours of training designed to prepare students for an associate-level cybersecurity analyst position within a security operations center. Everything you need to gain an understanding of cybersecurity basic principles, foundational knowledge and core skills required to grasp the more advanced associate-level materials is contained in the course.

“The Cyber Ops course is great for someone in the early stages of a cybersecurity career,” said Matt. “It’s very high level. The exam topics are introductions to much of the terminology and what to watch out for as a cybersecurity analyst. I add context to how the terminology and concepts would relate in real-world scenarios and there are demonstrations with the Kali Linux tool because it’s free to download and a legitimate tool any cybersecurity analyst would use.” 

Jump straight into security?

There’s always the inevitable question of whether someone should jump straight into security or develop a base of understanding before starting a cybersecurity career path. Matt’s recommendation has always been for students to possess at least some networking background.

“I’ve known a lot of cybersecurity professionals and I believe it really makes you stronger if you know what’s happening when a packet out of a computer goes from point A to point B. Without really understanding that and being able to troubleshoot it, you’ll be at a disadvantage,” said Matt. “Once someone knows the fundamentals as you learn in my Cyber Ops Learning Path, then they could find a place on any security team. But regardless, people who have that networking background have an advantage over somebody who doesn’t.”

Keeping it simple to gain the most value

Matt understands many students entering CCNA Cyber Ops can feel overwhelmed at first. That’s why he stands by a simpler approach where students learn to ask themselves the right questions about the security environment they are entering.

“It’s ok to feel overwhelmed at first,” said Matt. “We’ve all been there. So I teach my students to take a step back and consider these questions. What are the fundamentals of what is to be secured? What is the company asset you’re trying to protect? What are you trying to protect against? What is the risk associated with the current threats? We also look for ways to mitigate those threats and consider the available countermeasure solutions.” 

After all his years in the business, Matt still has a passion for cybersecurity work and his biggest thrill is to see students get bitten by the security bug.

“When I’m consulting for a company, I still love to be that guy who says, ‘Ahhhh, right there. There’s something bad on your network and we need to contain this before it becomes a problem.’ It’s always like finding a needle in the haystack. Naturally,  you don’t want to find anything bad on somebody’s network, but when you do and can stop it to save the day, that’s always a rush. I love seeing actual malware running on a computer and then witness the anti-malware flag it, then block it. Doing that as a consultant or watching a student new to cybersecurity experience the same thrill makes for a good day.”

Check out Matt’s new Infosec Skills courses below:

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About Matt Carey
Mr. Carey is an Infosec Skills author and member of the LX Labs team. He is a network engineer who has been in the IT field for over a decade. He has worked on over 100 networks with his main focus being Cisco WAN, DC, SDN and security solutions.

Working as a consultant has given him exposure to many different technologies and skills, which has helped him excel in IT. Teaching has always been one of his passions, and he started working as an instructor about five years into his career. He enjoys using his experience to help others further their careers in IT and security.

Posted: May 18, 2020
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Jeff McCollum
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