Meet William, Senior Information Assurance Specialist

Meet William, Senior Information Assurance Specialist


Please describe your job: What do you do?

I am the Lead Security Engineer for one of Criterion’s Security Operations teams. We are responsible for managing the customer’s network security infrastructure. I oversee, support, and delegate tasks to engineering staff as well as conduct all project planning and execution; manage, monitor and analyze network security events from monitored servers and workstations to ensure compliance with policies and procedures; and identify potential threats and anomalies, then take appropriate action based upon security policy.

What are 5 things you do almost every day?

  1. Respond to countless emails.
  2. Follow up with my team to provide any guidance or insight into their projects or day to day tasks to help them grow.
  3. Try to plan my day out each morning and create a list of what I hope to accomplish for the day in between meetings.
  4. Review our security environment and applications, looking for anomalous behavior on the network and in the environment.
  5. Attend meetings with government leadership pertaining to various mission goals.

Do you have a morning ritual? Something you do to start your day?

The first thing I do when I wake up is check my work email to make sure there are no pressing issues that may need immediate attention. Once I do this, I gather up what I need for work and go to the gym (pre-COVID) or go for a run to start my day. Once I start my work day, I will eat my breakfast while I prioritize and respond to my emails from overnight and early morning. I frequently create a “wish list” of things I would like to accomplish for the day.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

  • Communications: You need to be able to communicate well within the team. We are all working towards the same goal and we need to communicate within our team and with government leadership.
  • Analytical Thinking: Having the ability to review and analyze data that is provided and possibly translate it for people who are not familiar with our security metrics. Another thing I say frequently to my team is, “interpret what is in front of you, but also what is not there.” Identify if there are missing events, drop offs, or any kinds of deviations from our baseline.
  • Teamwork: Be able to work as a team to achieve a mission goal and know when to break away from the team to work independently on a prioritized issue or task.
  • Network security skills and fundamentals such as monitoring, auditing, vulnerability management, risk mitigation, compliance standards, and project planning .

What do you like best about your job?

The best thing about my job is that it is always changing; every day is different. It is not one of those jobs where you have monotonous tasks day in and day out. You have to be thinking on the edge of your seat and be able to respond accordingly, thus always learning. I also really enjoy everyone I work with. It is a great team and I am always learning something new from each member of my team.

What advice would you give to someone looking to become a security engineer?

Learn from as many people you can. Also, if you are looking to get your foot in the door in the field, it is okay to start anywhere to get experience and learn how an environment flows. While obtaining security certifications, learn at a minimum the basic security tools and measures in the environment and their functionality. Also, I stress to everyone to always ask questions so that you understand how things work and help growth.

What is the craziest/oddest job you have ever had? Something that might surprise your peers?

After high school ended and throughout college I worked as a valet at a high-end steak house. The job was very simple, and I got to drive some very nice cars, including rare exotics and high-end luxury cars. The job was great because I was working with a bunch of friends, made a lot of money, and got to meet some famous people along the way. Another benefit from the job was that it had me always running and jogging for cars, which helped keep me in shape for lacrosse season.