Meet Our Defenders

 

Wynand Viljoen_headshot.jpgDefending 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.”

Wynand Viljoen | Penetration Testing Lead

What drives you to be a Defender?

As a member of Mensa, I have always enjoyed solving problems and could always use my problem-solving skills to do well. I explored many disciplines in cybersecurity but always gravitated back to hacking – the skill that was considered magic by some and a black art by others. While it has its sophistication and out-of-the-box thinking, it was in its puzzle solving that I found my interest, and therefore penetration testing became my career of choice.

What is your strongest defender DNA quality?

Thinking 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. Knowing where to defend and to what extent, is best demonstrated by simulating real-world threats.

How do you prove you have defender DNA?

Not making assumptions of truth, fact or correctness. Working in the penetration testing team at a major financial institution, my first project was to test Internet Banking. It was a routine exercise, and there was no expectation to find any issues. I challenged this assumption and found two major vulnerabilities – a big upset for the bank and surprise to the team. The team adopted this same behavior, and suddenly the number of vulnerabilities identified, increased significantly. We challenged the most hardy of developers, the most meticulous system administrators, and the most diligent defenders, validating any and everything ourselves. I continued my career with different organizations, always with the same approach – never assume anything, have a defence-in-depth approach consisting of people, process, and technology, and always, always keep testing and challenging those controls and assumptions.

How does your defender DNA benefit Leidos clients?

Cybersecurity is a fluid, constantly evolving real-world problem impacting many people and organizations. I take a practical approach to show clients where the weaknesses are in their defenses. With so many products and so much information bombarding clients, having an empirical, objective way to articulate real risk, resonates and builds their trust. I help them make prioritized, informed decisions about how and where to spend their resources.