From a Cybersecurity Journalist to a Full-time Cyber Analyst

Robert Abel

Industry: Healthcare
Title: Analyst
Country: United States

In this article, we bring to you the real-life story of Robert Abel, formerly a journalist with SC Magazine who became gainfully employed as a full-time cybersecurity analyst after attaining the Certified Ethical Hacker certification.

In addition to my experience, CEH certificate stood out and turned out to be one of the determining factors of why I got the job over other candidates

Tell us about your journey as a cybersecurity professional.

I had a non-traditional entry into cybersecurity. I came from a reporting or journalism background and started with a publication called SC Media, formerly SC Magazine. As a reporter, we covered cybersecurity, and I was there for about four or five years.

I learned a lot about the industry, and that cybersecurity wasn’t just IT but its niche. I learned about exploits, vulnerabilities, and patching and reached a point where I wanted to do more than just talk about cybersecurity incidents. I wanted to help prevent as well as combat them. That prompted me to go back to school and get a master’s in computer science.

But to add a competitive edge, I wanted to obtain a certification, and that certification turned out to be the Certified Ethical Hacking (C|EH)

certificate, which helped. Once I completed school a few months later, I got a job as a contractor with a major healthcare organization in New Jersey.

I was there for a while and then went into the financial industry. I ended up working for a multinational bank. I did that as a contractor as well. Then, I found a permanent full-time position where I am now.

So, it’s been a good journey. But it started by getting my feet wet, learning about cybersecurity from the outside, and working from the inside. I started as a reporter and then had a couple of contractor jobs as an analyst. Now, I’m a full-time analyst. So, it’s been great.

What caught your attention about the C|EH program?

One of the biggest things for me is just doing a little research and trying to find what certificates hold the most weight. So, several things were on the table, but C|EH seemed to be the best option. It seemed like it had the most respect in the industry.

Several applications I was applying for at the time listed C|EH as a preferred requirement. In some cases, it was a requirement, or at the very least garnered preferential advantages and treatment for candidates. It just seemed like a no-brainer.

How has the C|EH benefitted your career?

I think it helped me stand out among other candidates. It also helped in my full-time or contractor and part-time work. During my journey, I was fortunate to be part of a pilot program with CUNY Colleges and the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). I was able to teach a class there that helped non-traditional students transition into cybersecurity.

One of the factors that led me to get that role was that I had a Certified Ethical Hacker’s certificate. I had a master’s in computer science. In addition to my experience, CEH certificate stood out and turned out to be one of the determining factors of why I got the job over other candidates.

It’s been a great opportunity to demonstrate that I know the industry from an educational and work standpoint. I also know it from a practical and applied perspective. The certificate was a way to demonstrate that.

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

I think it’s very well recognized. It was recognized in the previous places I worked. I know other people that have the C|EH with other respected certifications. It’s highly respected. It’s part of why I’m in the current role that I’m in now.

So, it holds weight in the industry. Several recruiters and the manager you’ll report to, who’s looking at what the recruiter gives them, recognize that certificate. It helps.

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

Absolutely, yes. As I said earlier, when I first started applying to transition from being a cybersecurity reporter or coordinator to a full-time cybersecurity analyst, that was one of the first things I put on my resume. It has helped even for the jobs I didn’t get in the interview process.

I had recruiters telling me that C|EH was one of the biggest things that caught their attention.

So, when I ultimately did get the jobs as contractors, and finally to where I am now, it helped improve my standard of life and helped me get better jobs and better pay. I think it’s a great certificate.

How has the C|EH certification impacted you?

Overall, it helped me be a better cybersecurity analyst and professional. Most of the things I studied in the test, in some way, shape, or form, as the longer I’m in this industry, I realize, that’s what they were talking about… that’s why I had to learn that. It does show itself over time.

The more you get into a specialized field within cybersecurity, the more you start to see the nuances—the exams, what the C|EH certification covers—you see that in practice,

and it starts to make sense. That’s why you must prove competency in those areas to demonstrate that you can deal with these problems.

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

Absolutely. As a part-time teacher at BMCC, I was able to help non-traditional students that were looking to make a transition into cybersecurity. I was allowed to teach them to give them a personal experience of what I’ve seen in my day-to-day role as a cybersecurity analyst in the healthcare and finance sector.

It was a great opportunity for me to pass down knowledge to people that hadn’t necessarily entered the field but were seriously considering it and trying to make cybersecurity a career for themselves. Having that certificate enabled me to get the job that put me in a position to help others.

I would say I was giving back to the community because that program was 100% free. Every student that took that course could seek certificates from other organizations that enabled them to enter the field of cybersecurity. So absolutely, it helped me give back to the community.

What was your favorite part of the C|EH program? Please explain why.

My favorite part of the C|EH program was looking at things from a hands-on perspective, trying out different techniques, attacks, and methods to gain and access information

in learning and getting ready for the test. I like to learn by example and by doing.

So, several experiments are performed in Sandbox environments, capturing the flag and things like that. Those little tricks and techniques you learn are what stuck with me.

Do you attribute any part of your success to EC-Council?

If so, do you have a message for the EC-Council team?
Yes, I attribute my success in part to it. My message to EC-Council is thank you for offering a program and a certificate that allows people to demonstrate their competency in cybersecurity, that allows them to show that they have what it takes to be cybersecurity professionals, and offering a certificate that’s recognized in the industry that can help people get jobs, improve their lives, and advance their careers.

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