Building a strong foundation
Like many in the cybersecurity field, Derek learned a lot of basics about network routing and infrastructure, system engineering, system administration and cybersecurity on his own time before formalizing his training via certification. From the earliest days of the internet of the late 1990s to today’s complex challenges, Derek is armed with a personal passion to always learn more about industry-leading trends.
After serving in the Air National Guard for five years, his career began an exciting new trajectory that continues today in the cybersecurity field, sparked by two notable events. First, in 2009, Derek took on IT security responsibilities with his National Guard unit and, eventually, at the Pentagon. The second was when Derek met his Infosec Ethical Hacking Boot Camp instructor, Keatron Evans, in 2013.
From there, Derek went on to pursue additional certifications in Cisco technology, the (ISC)2 CISSP, a number of SANS GIAC domains and the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) as his career transitioned out of the military in 2017 and into the private sector. Today Derek applies his deep knowledge as an Engagement Architect specializing in Offensive Security with Trace3.
Giving back to the community
Derek prides himself on giving back to the industry and helping new professionals get started in the cybersecurity field. “The whole reason for going into the army and getting into security was because I wanted to feel like I was not only doing something for the country, but doing something for security — making an impact that would benefit everybody,” said Derek.
It is this outlook that has led Derek to be an active member in online cybersecurity groups, Discord channels and forums, launch his own blog and serve as a member of the Academic Advisory Board for new certification paths offered by SecurityBlue.team. Derek also manages a security-focused YouTube channel, Cyber Warrior Studios, and serves as a SANS mentor — further helping give back to those who want to get started and succeed in cybersecurity.
Whether it is helping review a resume for an aspiring professional or picking up the phone during off hours to help a friend or old colleague solve a challenge, those that know Derek know that he is always one call or message away.
When asked if he’s reached his professional goals in the field and that he is in a place where he has always wanted to be, Derek’s answer is simple: No.
“I want to influence change in cyber and organizations,” said Derek. “Until we find a way to get ahead of the bad guys, my work is never done.”
With the field evolving as fast as it is with new vulnerabilities, new technology and new threat actors, it is this mindset that drives Derek to continue to seek new ways to influence change, impress young minds and share his knowledge to help others and organizations get ahead of cybersecurity threats.
“A lot of times people, once they get off work, they’re done. To me that doesn’t show a passion for what you do,” said Derek. “It doesn’t matter what you’re doing — you have to love what you do.”It is this passion, energy and drive to give back that makes Infosec proud to have Derek as a member of the 2020 Hall of Fame.