Successful cyber programs require great people with defender DNA.

Defending against sophisticated cyber threats takes more than technology. It takes people. People with skills and innate qualities to outpace today’s evolving threat landscape.

Qualities we call 'defender DNA.'

Katelyn Dartnell has defender DNA

"I have always had an interest in cybersecurity, and it drew my attention from a young age when I watched TV crime shows. I was particularly drawn to how the characters would solve problems through their computer forensics and hacking skills. However, I thought being a hacker was one of those impossible to achieve careers and just Hollywood magic. It was not until I was studying at university that I realized that penetration testing was the career path I wanted." —Katelyn Dartnell

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Alex Kavanagh has defender DNA

"Malware comes in all shapes and sizes, being able to pull the malware apart in a collection of different environments to explain the inner workings, allows us to better defend the organization. My defender DNA, keeps me going through the hardest of attacks. I’m not satisfied until the job is done, and we are defended. No matter the time of day – I’m ready to defend!" —Alex Kavanagh

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Ollie Luba has defender DNA

"Too many organizations have taken a siloed technology approach to countering insider threats that is minimally effective. I am driven to improve these approaches, breaking down silos across an organization, and proactively counter insider threats that can have devastating impact on the business." —Ollie Luba

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Lynsey Caldwell has Defender DNA!

"Security technologies can provide protection only to a certain extent; therefore, it is critical to educate others on the risk the human element poses. I can rest easy knowing I made a direct impact by educating clients – changing a user’s potentially harmful decision. Effective training programs are key to securing data, and it is a privilege to make a difference one employee at a time." —Lynsey Caldwell

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Matt Collins has Defender DNA!

"After performing extensive research, I simplify my findings into clear and actionable solutions for the customer to address problems before they arise. Working with the CERT organization for many years refined my ability to identify problems and to use research and analysis which builds trust and provides a clear example of defender DNA to my customers." —Matt Collins

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Andrew Tillotson has Defender DNA!

"I always try and have conversations with frontline engineers that have intimate knowledge of their processes and systems. These conversations usually turn into a fun mental exercise of 'If I were the bad guy, I would…'. Once that exercise has started, we are usually quick to come up with ways to mitigate any attack avenues or vulnerabilities, increasing the ability for the site to defend itself from an unknown adversary." —Andrew Tillotson

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Chris Williams has Defender DNA!

"I understand that for all the breakthroughs and brilliance, these cyber-attackers are people, just like us, who are trying to do right by their jobs and organizations. We need to focus on the people, not just the technologies." —Chris Williams

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Richard Byrd has Defender DNA!

"When I first started my career in the field, Cybersecurity was a backroom conversation. Now, it is a “Top 5 Business Concern” of Senior Executives and Board Members. Developing a sound security strategy in alignment with business requirements is my passion, and I thrive on sharing that passion with others." — Richard Byrd

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Scott Keenon has Defender DNA!

"Listening is so important. When you have a demonstrated mindset to first listen to the clients concerns and requirements, you can develop a custom and targeted roadmap to addresses their specific needs and issues. By bringing a broad range of OT industry knowledge and experience, coupled with proven best practices, I can help harden and strengthen our clients OT environments." —Scott Keenon

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Wynard Viljoen has Defender DNA!

"Think like an attacker. Out-of-the-box thinking is what makes attackers good at subverting defenses, and I have adopted that skill to always look at the problem in unconventional and new ways. I constantly challenge the security assumptions by taking an offensive approach to evaluate and demonstrate risk." —Wynard Viljoen

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Thomas Graves has Defender DNA!

"The thrill and challenge associated with keeping up with the latest adversary attack vectors in order to help clients maximize their investment in defensive capabilities drives me to be a defender." —Thomas Graves

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Josh Sweetwood has defender DNA

"Ensuring that I’m maximizing our human analyst resources as defenders, by automating work whenever possible to enable the most important activities we can perform as defenders – investigation, research, and intelligence generation and refinement. I am fascinated by the ongoing cycle, cat-and-mouse nature of cyber security. Sophisticated attackers get smarter every day, so it’s absolutely imperative that defenders do as well.  It takes human defenders to stay ahead of advanced groups of human attackers." —Josh Sweetwood

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Lee Nichol has defender DNA

"The only way I can prove I am altruistic in my attacks – through demonstrating and explaining how to defend against them in the future and being prepared to go that little bit further to achieve the objective. How many other technologists would rummage inside a dirty bin to get what they need?" —Lee Nichol

Tiffany Campbell has defender DNA

"I prove to have defender DNA by demonstrating the 'never-give-up' syndrome. Many times, we as defenders get into situations where it seems like there is no end in sight; whether it’s with analysis you’re performing or a project you’re working on. Being a defender requires you to be a fighter and willing to go the distance to get the job done. If that requires working on a deliverable for a client all night until its right, completed, and delivered – that’s what I do." —Tiffany Campbell

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Joe McMann has defender DNA

"I love the sense of “mission” that comes with being an active and committed Defender. When I’m engaged in any activity that puts me in a situation to battle an adversary, I want to think both tactically and strategically. This isn’t just a one-time event for me; I make it my mission to ensure that whatever I’m responding to today will not be a problem for me tomorrow." —Joe McMann

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Catherine McGrath has defender DNA

"I’m suspicious. When something seems off, I stop for that moment to take a second look and really consider what I’m about to do. If I’m still unsure or uncomfortable, I call on my teammates and ask for help. The “worst” that can happen is that I asked someone to evaluate something that turned out to be harmless."
—Catherine McGrath

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Gib Sorebo has defender DNA

"Like most martial arts, the focus starts on the fundamentals – like fighting stances and situational awareness. The goal is to turn active thought into muscle memory, so basic protections are applied without thinking.

That’s similar to what we advocate in cybersecurity by practicing good hygiene. Users are instructed to maintain their awareness for suspicious e-mails or inappropriate web links and to show a healthy level of skepticism. Another key lesson is one of accurately assessing threats and responding appropriately. We don’t want to turn an unexpected hug from our grandmother into a trip to the hospital for Nana."
—Gib Sorebo

Read Gib's Blog Posts

Aruna Sreeram has defender DNA

"Thinking like a Defender is what I am training myself and the Product Management team to be. We all have diverse backgrounds that help in building better products. Not everyone has or needs to have been a Defender but for us to create smart Defender-approved products we have to play Defenders on TV. Reading Defender blogs, attending Defender sessions and interacting with this community are things we do to sharpen our Defender knives."
—Aruna Sreeram

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Cary Williams has defender DNA

"Whether it was seeking prosecution for those harming others, or neutralizing actors who would damage our national security, I have always felt a sense of commitment to protect the things we value. Today, I apply this commitment and my years of experience safeguarding organizations in both the commercial and federal sectors to help our clients defend themselves and prosper." 
—Cary Williams

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Jim Diecks has defender DNA

"With an ever-changing threat landscape, a dedicated defender needs to be continuously learning about the challenges presented by new and sophisticated adversaries. You can’t become complacent, or get discouraged by the challenges this dynamic presents. Cyber security is not “one size fits all,” and the best way to help someone is to first understand the unique characteristics of their environment, capabilities, and mission." —Jim Diecks

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Mark Sherman has defender DNA

"Knowing how important our mission is to protect the world’s critical infrastructure. That is a daunting challenge, but one that is exciting to be a part of and makes it easy to want to come to work every day.  I have worked in Cybersecurity for over 15 years, and have taken that knowledge to define a set of service offerings that will allow our customers to feel confident that they can use a Managed Security Service provider like Leidos to help detect and respond to malicious activity on their networks." —Mark Sherman 

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Wing-Yen Leung has defender DNA

"I thrive on the opportunity to be a part of something that is really important in today’s society. To be a Defender means to protect our customers’ system assets, information, and integrity. Actively identifying vulnerabilities, providing recommendations, and solving problems, to drive a solid and robust cybersecurity posture, is what drives me to be a Defender." —Wing-Yen Leung

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