Certifications Advance Security Professionals and Help Address the Skills Gap

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Security certifications are a way for professionals to validate their expertise and knowledge while keeping their skills up to date with the evolving threat landscape. Employers also value certifications, with a recent Fortinet report finding that 82 percent of organizations prefer to hire candidates with certifications. In addition to validating security professionals’ skills, certifications also serve to develop new skills and create new career pathways for individuals who did not initially plan for a career in cybersecurity.

Rony Moussa, Technical Team Lead of Cybersecurity at Triple C, joined me for a digital conversation about the value of certifications and his experience with the Network Security Expert (NSE) Training Institute’s eight-level Certification Program.

What roles did you start in when you first began your career?

The first few months of my career were focused around networking and systems. While I was in an outsourcing IT administrator role at one of Triple C’s customers, I began rapidly focusing on cybersecurity to protect systems and networks. I eventually got promoted to Systems Engineer in cybersecurity and immediately after to a Senior Systems Engineer in Cybersecurity. Currently, I am positioned as the Technical Team Lead in Cybersecurity heading a wonderful and talented team in cybersecurity.

What allowed you to advance in your career to where you are now?

There are many factors that came together that allowed me to successfully advance in my career. One factor has definitely been my dedication and commitment to completing my Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) certification path towards achieving NSE8. Through Fortinet’s training, I gained hands-on experience with products, as well as learned critical skills that I now use in my day-to-day operations.

Another factor that has helped in my career has been encouragement from peers and mentors who have helped me progress. Since the beginning of my career, I was surrounded by helpful people, especially my team leader and the management at my employer Triple C. Working with talented and positive people helps every career not only those in cybersecurity. 

How has the Fortinet NSE certifications benefited you in your current role?

Fortinet NSE certifications always come up in customer conversations, especially when dealing with enterprise customers. Customers frequently require us to have certifications as it reassures them we are qualified technical people with cybersecurity experience and knowledge.

After completing the NSE1-8 program and seeing the value of the training, I wanted to share the knowledge with others. I began another journey by pursuing the Fortinet Certified Trainer for NSE4 and NSE5. Now I am also a Fortinet instructor delivering Fortinet training in my region and am working towards completing the Fortinet Certified Trainer for NSE7. As a partner, I’ve also seen the value of Fortinet Fast Track Program offered to customers and partners. This training covers important topics ranging from cloud to secure SD-WAN to further advance skill sets.

Do you encourage your team to pursue certifications and training?

During meetings with my team, I encourage everyone to pursue continued learning through training and certifications. In this industry it is critical to keep our skills and knowledge relevant and up to date with the threat landscape. I firmly believe the best combination for a successful cybersecurity professional is training, technology certifications, and hands-on experience.

I also believe that it’s important for every employee, not just the IT and cybersecurity teams, to be cyber aware. I’m pleased that Fortinet recently introduced the Information Security Awareness Training service for organizations to ensure all their employees are familiar with social engineering tactics and so they don’t fall victim to them. 

What is your professional observation about the cyber skills gap?

Businesses are facing more sophisticated security threats than ever. From enterprises to critical national infrastructure and financial services, if organizations don’t have employees with the skills needed to combat cyber criminals, they’ll be fighting a losing battle.

When hiring, organizations should look to attract students and youth so that they become part of the solution and look for careers that prevent cyber threats rather than become cyber criminals, which can be enticing. Fortinet’s Security Academy Program is an example of the kind of programs our industry needs to develop the future generation of security professionals from a young age.

What attracted you to a career in cybersecurity?

It all began in high school when I started following news about hackers and breaches. I began looking to expose the gaps in my high school’s network which sparked my interest and led me to pursue a career in cybersecurity. Additionally, one of my university professors really encouraged me to develop my career in security and to find a company where I could start a career and grow. At the beginning of my career, I was doing more offensive security and later on I used my offensive security skills to develop and maintain proper defensive security posture for customers. Now I really live by the saying "choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life."

Find out more about Fortinet’s NSE Training Institute programs, including the Certification ProgramSecurity Academy Program and Veterans Program, which provide critical cybersecurity training and education to help solve the cyber skills gap and prepare the cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow.

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