Meet Our Defenders


sweetwood_defender-dna_hero.pngDefending 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.”

Josh Sweetwood | Manager, Managed Security Services Infrastructure

What drives you to be a Defender?

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.

What is your strongest defender DNA quality?

The desire to do whatever my infrastructure team can to help our partner analyst team stay ahead of emerging advanced threats that attack our client’s networks. 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. It takes human defenders to stay ahead of advanced groups of human attackers.

How do you prove you have defender DNA?

I have that drive to poke and prod and learn new things in the realm of cybersecurity whenever I can, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. Years ago I participated in a ‘for fun’ company sponsored capture-the-flag hacking competition. I’m not a pen tester, but I definitely enjoy that type of work, and learning new things related to, anything, but especially cybersecurity.

The competition was on our own time, using our own IT resources, with fairly well-defined rules as far as what was in play and allowed to be hacked. There were specific ‘flags’ to obtain and prescribed ways to submit evidence that you obtained them – probably pretty standard for any capture-the-flag competition.

As I started getting my virtual machines set up and launching attacks, running Nessus, Metasploit, and other tools of the trade, I made a little progress early on. Then one night my oldest son asked me what I was up to. He has always been interested in IT in general and was absolutely fascinated. He was fairly young, so I wasn’t expecting him to sit down next to me and provide advice – but he didn’t hesitate to give me his thoughts on what I should try next.

It was a ton of fun to sit with him and conjure up various plans of attack – especially when some of them worked, and we were making progress, racking up points in the competition. We were both consumed by this whole thing for the night, and a little bit afterward, too. I’d say we’re just ‘wired’ for this stuff.

How does your defender DNA benefit Leidos clients?

My infrastructure team’s defender DNA pushes us to create new automation techniques and optimizations as well as keep our managed services operating at their full potential, for all of our network and endpoint defense services, which helps our clients achieve and maintain a maximum defensive posture to protect their sensitive data.