Chief Information Security Officer

Derek Smith, Supervisory Information Technology Specialist at Internal Revenue Service, Talks about the C|CISO Program

Read what Derek Smith had to say on LinkedIn:

EC-Council Credentials Transformed My Professional Life for the Better

Before getting involved in cybersecurity, I was a special agent with the federal government conducting all manner of investigations. Then, in 2008, I decided to change careers. I was considering what my next move would be when I learned about cybersecurity. Since I had been in security and law enforcement for over 25 years, I thought this was a logical career move. I had a 20-year-old associates degree in data processing, so I understood computers a bit. Also, as a special agent, I had been involved in computer crime cases and had a little training in computer crime investigations. To start my career, I took a two-week course in cybersecurity. This led to me obtaining my first contract position in cybersecurity as an information security officer. They hired me more because of my former government background than my cybersecurity skills. Later I earned master’s degrees in Information Assurance, IT Project Management, and Digital Forensics and my career continued to advance.

My cybersecurity credentials helped me the most to advance in my career, even more than my degrees. In the Washington, DC area credentials carry more weight, even than your cybersecurity degree. I believe this is because there are many different cybersecurity programs in existence, and it is hard to judge the quality of them. However, by obtaining credentials, employers at least have a baseline of what your knowledge may be based on the certifying exam.


Valuable EC-Council Credentials

I have obtained four credentials from EC-Council – Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH), Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (C|HFI), Certified Chief Information Security Officer (C|CISO) and Certified EC-Council Instructor (CEI). I was initially interested in obtaining these credentials because of the weight they carried with my contract employers. As a contractor, particular training programs and credentials were required for the job and advancement and EC-Council programs were on the list. After obtaining the credentials, I realized their high-quality content.

  • About the EC-Council Training Content

I have used EC-Council courseware to obtain all my credentials. With that, I attended live training too. I found EC-Council courseware was of the highest quality and was loaded with excellent information. The material was presented in a clear and easy to understand manner. The exercises and labs helped me to solidify my knowledge.

  • Introduction to Hundreds of Tools

One of the greatest things is that EC-Council provided tons of tools with each training program. These tools have been handy throughout my career.

  • Professional Credibility

As most of the EC-Council programs are accredited and recognized by different government branches, the program carries a lot of weight, especially in terms of its professional value. For instance, C|EH is accredited by ANSI and recognized by DoD as one of the baseline programs to be a part of their Information Assurance (IA) workforce.


To All the Cybersecurity Beginners

First, learn and understand how computers work. How can you protect something you don’t understand? I have seen some programs that take you right into cybersecurity topics without first helping you to understand the basics. Second, when you are considering which certifications to obtain, try to get a clear picture of what you want to do within cybersecurity. If you want to be a penetration tester get the C|EH, you don’t need SCADA certification for instance. If you want to go into digital forensics, get the C|HFI. I made the mistake of just getting random certifications without a plan. Save your money and plan it out, certs are expensive. Finally, understand security. I find it easier to train security, intelligence, and law enforcement people in cybersecurity than I do IT people. This is because if you understand security, IT is just another tool to implement it.


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