Posts tagged "Alan Pallar"

NetWars: My Experience at the Minnesota Cyber Aces State Championship

Adobe has always been very supportive of professional development for its employees. It is a great way to work on projects that might not be directly related to one’s main responsibilities. While I am currently responsible for managing engineering and quality engineering on the Adobe Photoshop architecture team, I have been using my professional development time to research cybersecurity.

I recently learned about Cyber Aces, founded by Alan Paller, co-chair of the Secretary of Homeland Security Task Force on Cyberskills and founder and research director of the SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Networking, and Security) Institute. The goal of Cyber Aces is to “fill a critical shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals by growing the talent pool, discovering those with high potential, and offering a fast track to cybersecurity jobs.”

In order to qualify for the Cyber Aces Minnesota State Championship, I had to take a series of online quizzes in Networking, Operating Systems, and Systems Administration. Luckily, I scored high enough to be invited to participate for the championship title on a simulation called NetWars – a real-time capture-the-flag competition on March 15, 2014. NetWars was created by the folks at SANS as a way for participants to test their skills with hands-on exercises and penetration tests.

Before the competition, there was an ethics panel hosted by Dr. Kevin Gyolai, dean of STEM (science, engineering, and mathematics) at Inver Hills Community College where the competition took place. The panelists represented a range of disciplines from industry (UNISYS), to education (Inver Hills Community College), and government (FBI). They talked about the “insider threats” facing many organizations, how the US Cyber Command has hundreds of job openings that they cannot fill and how BYOD (bring your own device) is challenging university campus networks and corporations.

After the panel, we got down to business. Level 1 had a series of questions asking us to find flags by looking at the file system, and an interesting question about PDF. On a personal level, it was awesome to see a question about a PDF. I am not allowed to talk about the question as the other states haven’t completed the competition yet, but it was an excellent question.

I have earned the ASSET (Adobe Secure Software Engineering Team) brown belt certification and programs like Cyber Aces and NetWars will help me on my way to earning a black belt. Thank you to everyone at Cyber Aces for hosting a fantastic event.  I encourage anyone interested in developing their security skills to take a look at Cyber Aces and participate.

Jeff Sass
Engineering Manager, Photoshop