CivvyStreet Magazine caught up with Global Operations Director, Cary Hendricks from ID Cyber Solutions. Cary is a highly accomplished security technical investigator, advisor and trainer with over 20 years’ broad experience working with Government Agencies throughout the world.
Cary tells us about his previous military experience and how he made the transition into cybersecurity.
What’s your military background?
I was conscripted into the South African Defence Force in 1987 and was first deployed with the Army in counter-insurgency operations in various locations in Africa. I then transferred to the Air Force to start a career in electronic warfare and learning about radar and electronic countermeasures. My service ended in 1997 after 10 years of service. I am also the current Scottish Chairman of the South African Legion where I take a keen interest in furthering careers of veterans and serving members with training at ID Cyber Solutions, a company we have started for specifically for that purpose.
Can you tell us how your background helped you get into security investigation?
My military background came in very helpful when trying to understand how things worked. The fundamental training I received in the military was a huge bonus as it fostered discipline and perseverance. Trying to apply some skills in the commercial world became a real challenge.
I started working for a Scottish company, who produced intelligence analysis systems and I immediately felt like I was in the right place. I needed to learn new systems and based on my previous experience, it somehow became second nature. I felt I just knew what was going on. My civilian colleagues struggled with some of the concepts. During my time I was deployed to various law enforcement agencies and other Police Forces in other countries. I was able to reliably translate their operational requirements to the system. One of the deployments of systems was going into Iraq, which required a military-minded civvy to be able to do that.
Other intelligence and law enforcement groups really valued my input and understanding. Working with them, I discovered a new side, cyber investigations. Suddenly, it was like being transported back to 1997. I had skills, found new challenges and then realised there is a massive shortage of people that could do this job in a methodical and tactical way. Direction is critical to find the right way and accelerate the journey into security rather than fumbling about and learning as you go, which takes a very long time.
How did you find resettlement?
As I was a skilled Commonwealth veteran immigrant, I had absolutely no recourse to public funds, which included any training or access to any aid. I really had to start from scratch to get going on a career. Within a relatively short time, what felt like long years, I became an instructor after going on a course to learn new skills and the instructor, while good, had no idea about what was required in a real environment. It was then I decided I want to make a difference and train real folks, soldiers and police officers who wanted to make a change rapidly into a new career with whatever limited funds they had to their disposal and not waste valuable time. If you have access to a resettlement grant, grab it and get started on quality cybersecurity courses. It will be a real boost in going forward.
What military skills do you draw upon in your work?
The skills are many, but mostly I would say, discipline, observation skills, decision-making skills, working under pressure, critical thinking along with logical reasoning and resilience, and most of all professionalism. Having worked in many different geographies and cultures, you become very prepared for what situations may bring. Being able to assess your target (or client’s business), do digital reconnaissance on what an attacker may do, being able to anticipate an attack and how you would possibly counter, or prevent it. In the Cyberworld, this is a constant battle of outcomes. Every day is a new day in learning attack and defence tactics. There is always something new to learn, experience and play with. With all of these new things, focus and willingness to learn is most important.
What advice would you offer to current Service leavers?
My suggestions would be think about what you want to do that is enjoyable. You already have many transferable skills and with a “can do” attitude you can learn new skills very quickly. Delivering stuff under pressure may come as a second nature (and there is no shouting Sarge!)
Do not look for something that will make you rich quick, it will not. If it is Cyber you want a career in, there are almost an innumerable amount of directions to take (almost like and officer with a compass and a map..) Some will adapt well in auditing and compliance, some adapt well into investigations, some adapt very well into trainers and consultants speaking publicly about security.
There are lots of companies that look for cybersecurity personnel at all levels, you do not need to be an expert in that field. These directions do require further studying (not long-term or expensive!) but as short courses. You can quickly build up an impressive cyber skillset to compliment your own personal skills.
Do you feel there is a lot of help out there for those leaving the armed forces to get into cyber security? Are there any courses or organisations you would recommend?
A lot more needs to be done to help service members to transition from the military in my opinion. We are constantly campaigning for more help and we do our bit to assist as an award-winning Scottish company. Our courses are certified globally and opens many opportunities in exciting careers. The courses are certified by EC Council and PECB and provide excellent starting points. These are often the most required courses for anything to do with cybersecurity.
How are you helping veterans now?
At ID Cyber Solutions, we offer cybersecurity courses directly to help with resettlement and career progression. In 2017, ID Cyber won ‘Best Scottish Cyber Startup’ and a finalist in ‘Best International Contribution to Cyber’, which directly related to our training of serving members and veterans. This year we are a finalist in ‘Best collaboration with Police Scotland’. All of these are due to our commitment to help serving and veteran students. We offer discounts on courses and if required, extra tuition.
Find out about ID Cyber Solutions here: https://www.idcybersolutions.com/