Proactive Network Defense: Talking with cybersecurity trainer Jamie Neary

We recently spoke to Jamie Neary, who will be leading Certified Network Defender (CND) training for the ORION community in November. With over 20 years of experience providing IT and security training and education, he understands the importance of network defense as an essential skill for all IT roles. To that end, he offers his insights on how CND trains you to look for vulnerabilities in your own network from the lens of a hacker in a sophisticated live online environment. 

What would you say are the major cyber threats for education and research institutions? 

One of the biggest things right now in research and education institutions is cyber espionage. Anyone with a college and university email address is now a target. Even though there may be a great IT structure in place, all it takes is for one person to click on the wrong file and away it goes. A hacker with a death grip on data, which may not be backed up, can threaten to publicly release intellectual property, research or data. The hacker may want hush money to not release it to the world and undermine everything you’ve been working on.

How have you seen the pandemic impact cybersecurity and data privacy?

The number one impact would be the shift to remote working. We’ve seen increased interest in the cloud including file servers, Exchange servers for email, which has new security implications — moving away from our own secure network and infrastructure and putting our faith in external cloud providers. We are also seeing an increased focus on malicious actors going after the home network as the weakest link in the security chain because there isn’t the sophistication of the typical on-premises infrastructure. Finally, organizations are redefining their security parameters, getting away from the idea that “if it’s in our nework, it’s safe and secure” and adopting a zero-trust model.

How would you describe Certified Network Defender’s approach to network defense?

We do a bit of everything and that’s what makes CND unique. It’s not just targeting one threat, but it’s about safeguarding the environment as a whole and looking at it from a 360-degree approach.

We’ll analyze different avenues, such as looking at the things that can potentially go wrong and how to safeguard against that, which ties into the cyber kill chain. We will also look at things from the hacker’s point of view, looking at what they will see or try to exploit in your environment and asking how we’re going to protect against that. One of the key focuses is best practices, whether that’s from a logical perspective or a physical perspective, it’s more than just firewalls, vulnerability assessments, anti-viruses and patch managements.

You mention that CND is unique, what makes it stand out from other kinds of training?

The biggest aha moments often happen in the first module where we’re in a lab-based environment with fully functioning systems. In this lab, we undertake some common breaches against a website, web server and the database. Students get their own bubble to play in with functioning firewalls. What makes it different is that it’s not just a simulated environment. You are attacking a real web server, a real SQL database server and getting access to websites that are running in that environment and seeing the repercussions of your actions in real time.  

What can ORION participants expect to get from their CND experience?

Everyone has their own takeaways from the course, but it comes down to knowing what to look for and realizing how easy it is for others to circumvent your network. Many organizations will invest resources into infrastructure and technology. CND provides valuable insights into the importance of procedures and operations that help people understand existing and potential threats and take proactive measures to protect against them.

Join the conversation with Jamie on September 21, 2021. Learn how to create and deploy the most comprehensive network defense system with EC-Council’s Certified Network Defender (CND) training.

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ORION understands the importance of keeping sensitive research and student data safe. As we all continue working and learning within hybrid in-person and online environments, ORION continues to connect the community with the skills and resources to protect your data, networks and people through cost-effective online training. Learn more.