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Micah Hoffman was operating on a lab rat when his journey toward becoming an elite cyber professional began. He was working on a Ph.D. in cognitive neuropsychology, but he’d lost interest in the subject. Peering into the rat, Micah realized that he was more excited by physical systems and their concrete inner workings.
He dropped out and got a job selling computers. Selling computers became fixing computers, and fixing computers became building them. Soon, Micah was setting up firewalls and configuring servers. After a cybersecurity class at SANS Institute, an educational organization specializing in information security training, he was hooked. He’d found his field.
“With cyber incidents, when you look at the fundamental root causes, it almost always boils down to a people problem.”
Many years of experience later, Micah joined Booz Allen’s penetration testing team, which helps strengthen online networks by hacking them to find the holes. In 2009, looking to expand his cyber repertoire, he signed up for a class on threat hunting—entering compromised networks to ferret out the hackers operating within.
“After mastering one discipline within cyber, it’s helpful to look at the other side of the coin,” he says. “I saw that understanding how to detect hacks would make me a better hacker.”
The training began with a two-week offsite boot camp led by Booz Allen subject-matter experts and continued for a period of mentoring. When they were ready, Micah and his classmates joined projects.
Eventually, Micah worked his way up to leading an entire team of vulnerability analysts, penetration testers, and threat hunters. Today he serves within Booz Allen’s cyber training program, helping to drive its agenda and develop experiential training experiences like the one he enjoyed almost a decade ago.
Instruction and leadership from technical experts like Micah
“We leverage our cyber practitioners to make sure we’re imbedded in the way the industry is moving,” says Andrew Smallwood, who leads a team focused on developing the firm’s cyber talent. “We train for the skill sets based on what they’re seeing in the field.”
The instructors and course designers who shape our cyber program are informed by an incredible breadth of experience. They’re pen-testers, threat hunters, and reverse engineers working for government agencies in the civil, defense, and intelligence spheres, as well as Fortune 50 automakers and other high-tech manufacturers.
They’re people like Tim Nary and Fred Frey, winners of multiple titles in the Capture the Flag competitions, where cyber pros from around the world compete to outthink, outwit, and
That operational depth and breadth uniquely
Most universities base their
Now he helps ensure we offer training resources for each job the framework defines, and at every skill level. Booz Allen’s workshops, courses, and boot camps provide people opportunities to gain the skills they need to advance within their current
Our strong cyber instruction program makes us a top employer in a job market where about 300,000
Those offerings are open to anyone—but some of the most desirable skills in cyber are personality attributes, Micah says: “Persistence. Motivation. Determination. An inquisitive mind.”
Andrew concurs. It was his motivation to solve the world’s
“With cyber incidents, when you look at the fundamental root causes, it almost always boils down to a people problem,” he says. “You can have the best technology and the best processes, but if you don’t have people trained to use and understand them, cyber criminals are going to kick your butt. I don’t like getting my butt kicked.”