From Technology Sales to Cyber Warfare Operator with the US Air Force

Thaniel Langley

Company: DSS, Inc.
Title: Senior Cyber Security Engineer
Country: United States

In an exclusive interview with EC-Council, Thaniel Langley, an Air Force veteran shares his inspiring story. From his time in technology sales to his current role as a cyber warfare operator, with the US Air Force, this Certified Ethical Hacker has proven that with dedication and the right training, anything is possible. With his Certified Ethical Hacker certification, he got qualified for an arduous career field in the Air Force.

Don’t miss out on this exclusive interview on how to hack your way to the top of the cybersecurity industry.

I spent probably four- or five-years selling technology around wireless equipment. Certified Ethical Hacker certification helped me, promoted and moved my career forward in the Air Force.

Tell us about your journey as a cybersecurity professional.

My journey as a cybersecurity professional started when I first entered the United States Air Force Intelligence Service. After I finished my military service, I attended college, where I did a bachelor’s degree in information technology and business management.

From college, I went into a sales role with technology. I spent probably four or five years selling technology around wireless equipment.

But during that time, I knew that wasn’t my dream career, and I knew I wanted to do something else in information technology, but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. And then fortunately, I was able to get a scholarship to a cybersecurity certification class, where I took approximately two weeks of training and time for security.

And then an additional five to six months of studying for the certification. I passed that certification test, which helped me go into an information security analyst position for a company that produced medical billing software as a service.

During that role, I worked for an information security compliance attorney. That supervisor was a great mentor and helped me find my place within the cybersecurity world.

I knew from there that I wanted to continue my career in cybersecurity. I felt I had landed my dream career and was very comfortable with it. It felt very natural to me. I was very captivated by the type of work I was performing in that job role.

So, I wanted to take my career further, and I enrolled for a master’s degree in cybersecurity. As part of that master’s degree program, I had to take EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker certification to pass one of my courses. That’s what I knew during the curriculum with the C|EH.

I was captivated by the information in the program, how the EC-Council program covered ways malicious actors attacked cyber systems, and how to defend against anything ranging from malware analysis to ethics and standards.

I was captivated by the entire program, and I passed the Certified Ethical Hacker, which helped me broaden my career in cybersecurity and move on to bigger and better positions.

What caught your attention about the C|EH program?

What caught my attention about the C|EH program was how the curriculum was presented to the student. So many times, we focus on the interior aspects of cybersecurity, but the Certified Ethical Hacker program helps you view from the outside as well.

What are malicious actors thinking? How are they trying to get into cyber systems? What vectors are they using to attack cyber systems?

So, you can view an organization not only from the internal aspects of cybersecurity but also from the external aspects of cybersecurity. And I thought that was a unique approach that other certification programs I felt didn’t cover.

How has the C|EH benefitted your career?

The Certified Ethical Hacker certification has allowed me to progress in my career in two unique ways. So first, I could go back into the military in the United States Air Force as a reservist.

And my training experience and certifications


allowed me to qualify for an arduous career field known as cyber warfare operator. It’s a unique position in the Air Force.

It requires, obviously, specialized cybersecurity offensive and defensive knowledge. So, the Certified Ethical Hacker certification helped me in that aspect and promoted and moved my career forward in the Air Force.

In my civilian career, I was recruited by a company specializing in cloud data management as a cybersecurity engineer. And during my first interview with the cybersecurity team at this organization, my now

supervisor pointed out during the interview that she was impressed that I had the Certified Ethical Hacker certification.

She is a big supporter of EC-Council certification training programs. She has the C|CISO certification. So, she knew that because I had that C|EH certification, I was fully qualified for the position I was applying for and interviewing for.

And I was ultimately offered the position. I’ve landed a career with a dream company I’ve been looking for. And I’m delighted with where I’m at in my career.

How recognized is the C|EH in your organization and the industry?

The Certified Ethical Hacker certification is not only popular among cybersecurity professionals but also generates many conversations from people who have not been through the C|EH training and certification path.

People often ask me,

“Wow, you have your C|EH. What was that program like?

Did you find it challenging? Was it beneficial?”

And my response to those types of questions is, “Yes, it was challenging. It was very beneficial to my career and knowledge in cybersecurity.”

And I think it generates a lot of positive and influential conversation amongst cybersecurity professionals and peers that I’ve not only worked with but also in my community; for example, my wife is in fine jewelry, but one of her customers loves talking to my wife about me having a Certified Ethical Hacker certification.

And when I was able to meet my wife’s customer, she was like, “Wow, I wish I could go into cybersecurity as I find it so fascinating.” And she wants to know a lot more about the C|EH program. I talked to her about it, and I genuinely find people excited about the C|EH program.

Did the C|EH help you to get higher pay, a promotion, or a job that you wanted?

The Certified Ethical Hacker certification helped my career and allowed me to take a promotion in my civilian career as a cybersecurity engineer.

My salary increased by 30%, which is a significant increase. And I owe that to the Certified Ethical Hacker certification that helped me stand out amongst other individuals interviewing for the position I have now.

How has the C|EH certification impacted you?

The Certified Ethical Hacker certification is unique as it allows you to think like a malicious person but not act like one. It puts you into the mindset of how and what a malicious actor is trying to do against cyber systems. And it helps you prepare for cyber defense.

It teaches you the most beneficial cybersecurity tools to be deployed to defend an organization from individuals trying to do bad things while mitigating risk. So, it’s impacted me in a way that it helps you think, like someone that’s not an ethical hacker, but also puts you in the mindset to be an ethical hacker simultaneously.

Did the C|EH help you give back to the community in any way?

The Certified Ethical Hacker certification program has given me a unique position to be able to help others enter the cybersecurity profession. One of the things I love about the cybersecurity profession is that I’ve noticed the willingness of others to help each other.

It is a very supportive industry, and C|EH has given me confidence and the ability to help mentor other people interested in a career as a cybersecurity professional. I’ll give an example. I’m mentoring two people who are very interested in a cybersecurity position. They have been in a career that they do not enjoy.

They’re very tired of working in their position, and they would like to be in something rewarding and challenging at the same time. And one of the certifications training programs I recommend as part of this mentoring to these individuals is the Certified Ethical Hacker program.

What was your favorite part of the C|EH program? Please explain why.
My favorite part about the Certified Ethical Hacker program is learning specific tools that help mitigate risk and help an individual become confident in how to protect an organization from bad actors.

I feel that the Certified Ethical Hacker program was very in-depth with this information and helped me deepen my knowledge of cybersecurity tools used to deploy to help defend against bad actors in the world.

And another very positive aspect of the C|EH program is its ethical components. So, as cybersecurity professionals, we work in areas of sensitivity, and the C|EH is very specific about being a person of the highest ethical standards.

We must be able to act with competence, do due diligence in our careers, and not take advantage of sensitive areas. I feel that the C|EH clarifies to individuals studying the program that the cybersecurity profession expects us to be better than others with ethical trust.

Do you attribute any part of your success to EC-Council? If so, do you have a message for the EC-Council team?

I feel EC-Council is responsible for my point in my career right now. And what I mean by that is that the Certified Ethical Hacker program helps build competence in this career field. And

because of my C|EH certification, I could land a career and a cybersecurity position that I love to do.

I feel that EC-Council helped me get to this point in my career. I have made positive changes in the industry, my employer, and the United States military. And I feel that the EC- Council has benefited me and will benefit me in the future when I move on to more challenging and expert-level certifications.

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