Brian Nordemo | A lifetime of protection, from the military to the SOC and beyond

 Brian Nordemo, 2022 Infosec Scholarship winner, looks to pair his policy and military experience with new training for a new career in cybersecurity.

Brian Nordemo | A lifetime of protection, from the military to the SOC and beyond

One of the best things about the cybersecurity community is the diversity of its professionals: Not only do they come from all walks of life, ages and experiences, they often bring the strengths of prior careers and military service to bear against rapidly evolving cyber threats.


Marine Corps and law enforcement veteran Brian Nordemo embodies this mentality, using his extensive resume to bring unique perspectives to a promising cybersecurity career. 


“I’m very proud that my daughter and son can see me as an example that one should do something they love,” Nordemo shared. “If you’ve got to do a job, it's because you have to, but when you find a career, it’s because it's something you can evolve with. That's what I'm most proud of.”


This mentality and perspective make Infosec proud to name Nordemo as a member of their 2022 cohort of Scholarship Winners.


“If you’ve got to do a job, it's because you have to, but when you find a career, it’s because it's something you can evolve with. That's what I'm most proud of.”

A resume built on service


Nordemo is a Boston, Massachusetts, native who served in the Marine Corps until the late 1990s. Following his military service, Nordemo pivoted to a career in law enforcement, both as a Deputy Sheriff and a Boston police officer. 

While he didn’t know it then, Nordemo’s five years in law enforcement laid the groundwork and planted the seed for an eventual career in cybersecurity. In addition to serving and protecting his community, he learned the value of conducting thorough investigations, withholding biases and assumptions, and following his gut. 

After an injury on the job, Nordemo decided to follow his interests in technology, working as a Systems Integration Consultant for a growing regional business. Here, Nordemo finally recognized his passion for cybersecurity, which inspired him to formally grow his skills with college-level and industry coursework in security, all while working at an IT-managed services company. 


Bringing an investigative mindset to the digital world


Once Nordemo began his transition into the cybersecurity field, he immediately began to see the potential for his professional resume to bring fresh perspectives to the work and personal and professional benefits.

“I've gone through two police academies and worked for three different agencies, and that knowledge led to special investigations,” Nordemo shared with Infosec. “So when it comes to cybersecurity and investigations…I can take my prior experiences, bring them into this landscape, and be able to offer that.”

This investigative mindset — leveraging open source information, knowing natural habits and tendencies and following his training — has given Nordemo the confidence to bring his skills to bear against today’s digital criminal.

“I know a lot of people that have got into the technology industry just having worked from behind the screen,” Nordemo continued, “Whereas I've been the one in front of it: I've given courtroom testimony, I know how to do interrogations, witness statements and I know how to skip trace, track people and apply those skills now with computers.”

While there is no full-proof way organizations can protect all of their digital assets, bringing professionals like Nordemo can help the industry broaden their approach to protection, better understand the human element, and be more proactive in their defensive stance.

“While it's great that people can get technical experience, you also need to understand the sociology of it… the humanity behind it.”

Tips for other experienced career changers


Understandably, the mental transition from one career path to another can come with some bumps along the way, but Nordemo has advice for others considering making the leap as he has.

Most importantly, Nordemo suggests not hesitating to ask questions. “I would say absorb, ask questions, find a mentor and model where you want to be after what someone else has successfully done,” shared Nordemo. “At the same time, however, experienced professionals should remember that just because someone is a CTO or CSO, it doesn't mean they may always know more than you.”

Secondly, Nordemo leans on this military and law enforcement training, which emphasizes teamwork, collaboration and integrity. In addition to encouraging others to stand behind their experience and training, Nordemo also reminds all professionals to work ethically and prioritize work-life balance. Or, as Nordemo puts it more simply, “ I always tell people, ‘No one's resume was ever read as their obituary.’”

Building momentum for a long career in cybersecurity


Next, Nordemo looks forward to leveraging his Infosec Scholarship to bolster his personal experience and foundational cybersecurity training to earn the certifications needed to showcase his hard work, such as the CompTIA Security+ credential.

Initially, Nordemo is targeting work in a security operations center (SOC) but ultimately hopes to join a red team or penetration testing team. “I would like to be a pentester, but not just with an eye toward protection….but boots on the ground where I’m integrated with teams to see how vulnerable their organizations are and what procedures they have for their employees.”

However, Nordemo would love to share his knowledge and experience with others teaching at the college level. “I respect the role and the responsibility involved with [teaching] because they have a lot of influence in what's happening out there, and often people don't even know it.”