Dr. Mini Zeng’s cybersecurity students were treated to a special guest lecturer this semester, one with years of extensive cybersecurity experience in hacking, reverse engineering and securing networks.
Students in Dr. Zeng’s Intrusion Detection course heard from Keason Drawdy, Senior Cyber Security Solutions Consultant with Emtec. Drawdy started out as a hacker, and now uses that knowledge to help various companies secure their networks from data breaches. He has more than 23 years of experience in information technology and cybersecurity, possessing first-hand knowledge of defeating secure networks, and all aspects of cloud storage and encryption.
“Keason is a very knowledgeable cybersecurity expert working in the industry,” Dr. Zeng said. “He’s familiar with the techniques hackers tend to use, and gave our students great suggestions about their approaches in defending cyber systems.”
So for Dr. Zeng’s students, the opportunity to hear from someone so deeply involved in the field was a rare, and valuable experience.
“Experts like Keason help our students understand the career path as a professional in cybersecurity and improve student career readiness,” said Dr. Zeng. “These experiences motivate students and help them understand why they are learning topics such as system administration, firewall configuration, IDS, IPS, etc.”
Drawdy emphasized to students the importance of practice when it comes to being a cyber security expert. Most of what he learned, he said he gained from playing with systems and experimenting on his own. Learning in class is crucial, but it’s even more important to continue studies outside of class.
Hacking can be difficult to practice in real life, but Drawdy suggested students set up their computers at home, and try to break down the firewalls on them. He showed the class how hackers can access a company’s system, and just how much information they can obtain in a short period of time, which can include employees’ personal information.
“The only way to become intimately familiar with these systems is to set up a lab at home,” he said. “Get a couple of old computers, connect them and try to hack into each machine.”
It’s a field where you always need to keep learning and improving processes, he said.
“There’s no such thing as resting on your laurels in cybersecurity,” Drawdy said. “Something I could deploy yesterday could already be compromised by the following day. You have to make sure your systems maintain their integrity.”