How One Challenging Gig with My Band Prepared Me for a Career in Cybersecurity

Playing in a band and cybersecuritySometimes, connections between work and play appear when they’re least expected. You wouldn’t expect, for example, a guitar-shredding metal-head to carry over much from his time on stage to his career in cybersecurity, but that’s exactly what happened to Julian Weinberger, CISSP and Director of Systems Engineering for NCP engineering.

Julian isn’t performing in the U.S. anymore, but during his time in Germany, one gig in particular brought so many challenges that he still thinks about it today.

We sat down with Julian to discuss what happened that night.

What specific event involving your band has taught you the most about working in security and business continuity?

A few years ago, after hustling to line up free gigs, I landed my first paid performance. Unfortunately, I ran into myriad unanticipated issues: a string on my first guitar broke, my backup guitar didn’t work, my cable made weird noises, and, as if that wasn’t enough, my in-ear system stopped working.

Although none of these issues were my fault, they wreaked havoc on the gig – and when you’re hired to entertain, you risk not being paid if you’re unable to deliver, regardless of the circumstances. It’s similar with enterprise network security. If things break — and they will — you need to be prepared with a plan to fix it.

So how did you respond on stage? And what did that teach you about security?

When performing on stage, technical difficulties must be fixed within seconds, and it’s the same case with security. For instance, if your microphone cuts out – or worse, your organization is faced with security issues – you need to respond immediately to minimize damage. No one likes to go home in the middle of a concert, and no one likes his or her productivity interrupted due to a technology failure that could have been prevented.

Based on your experience, do you have any further advice for other security professionals?

Of course, with both live music performances and security, disruptive factors are often not solely the fault of the person on the front line. For instance, if the sound technician wasn’t skilled, the audience assumed we weren’t a good band. It’s the same in security: if your organization is not equipped with qualified people, vendors and security solutions, you might not have control of the outcome, which reflects poorly on your organization as a whole.

Julian Weinberger, CISSP, is Director of Systems Engineering for secure remote access and VPN solution provider NCP engineering. He has 10 years of experience in the networking and security industry, as well as expertise in SSL-VPN, IPsec, PKI, and firewalls. Based in Mountain View, CA, Julian is responsible for developing IT network security solutions and business strategies for NCP. He also provides the company’s key accounts with pre- and post-sales technical support for their remote access security solutions.

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