Michael Carmack

Cyber Security Analyst, Rite-Solutions, Inc.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities you do for fun?
I love to travel and to be outdoors. I am always up for anything athletic! I also enjoying reading and all things techy.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I played the jazz trumpet growing up but am probably not very good now.

Do you play any sports or do any athletic activities?
I train American Ninja Warrior/Parkour/Capoeira/Yoga and I coach youth soccer. I also enjoy hiking and all types of exercise.

What is your favorite non-science book, magazine, or blog?
Harry Potter-all of them

What’s your favorite song or band?
The Killers

Who do you look up to and admire?
My Parents

What is the highest degree you have attained?
Masters of Science in Administration of Justice: Homeland Security with a concentration in Intelligence and Cybersecurity

What future degree(s) do you plan on pursuing, if any?
Ph. D. possibly in the distant future!

What schools did you attend?
Salve Regina University

What were your favorite classes/coursework in elementary school, middle school, high school, college?
Any course involving computers, criminal justice/law classes, and English

What educational accomplishments are you most proud of?
Graduating with my M.S. with a 4.0 GPA

What kinds of challenges did you overcome during your education?
Like most students, I had to overcome the challenge of deciding how I was going to contribute to society and what career I was going to pursue in order to make that happen. This is a very real struggle for most students so expect and welcome this challenge when it comes!

Who is your current employer?
Rite-Solutions, Inc.

What is your official job title?
Cyber Security Analyst

How many years have you been in this organization/position?

What does your organization do?
Rite-Solutions is a System Engineering and Software Development company. We have a long history working with the Navy and the DoD. We are also active in the commercial realm.

What is your role in the organization?
I am responsible for the protection of all Rite-Solutions data. I have been tasked with designing, maintaining, and improving Rite-Solutions security infrastructure in order to mitigate risk.

Describe your work environment.
I work at a standing desk with multiple monitors at my disposal to display everything from real-time network data to the latest white paper describing the tactics, techniques, and procedures of a malicious hacking group. The office is full of software developers and engineers of all types and everyone is very friendly. My “office” can change depending on the current security need. One day I may be working in the server room or networking closet and the next I may be offsite supporting our employees.

What tools/techniques do you use in your job?
I work within a wide range of equipment and operating systems to help defend Rite-Solutions. I use the same tools and techniques that malicious actors use but to proactively defend our corporate network rather than to cause harm. Although many of my tools are technical, there are techniques that require very little technical knowledge. I can utilize social engineering techniques to train employees to recognize various attack scenarios that can bypass many technical defenses we put in place.

What is a typical day in your job like?
There are very few “typical” days working as a Cyber Security Analyst for a small business. I am continuously receiving new tasks or creating new action items that are prioritized and implemented on an ongoing basis. I typically will read 10+ articles or news reports a day, including information sharing feeds to gain a better insight than I had the day before on the threat landscape and how it is evolving. I regularly find myself working individually or alongside other technical and non-technical staff. The day never truly ends as security is a 24/7/365 task so I am always responding to alerts or learning new techniques to better improve Rite-Solutions security posture.

Describe an atypical (but notable) day in your job.
While in my current role I have earned the title of Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP), one of the most esteemed certifications in my field. This could not have been achieved without the experience I have gained in my position and the depth and breadth of tasking I am exposed to at Rite-Solutions.

How is the work you do important to society?
As more processes are digitized, the security of our digital infrastructure becomes increasingly important. A disruption in service or theft of data can not only be devastating financially but can now impact human life. As a contractor for the DoD, any information lost to an adversary directly impacts the security of the U.S. Military. The protection of data and services, even at a corporate level, has societal benefits that are far-reaching.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
The two largest challenges I face is the speed in which the threat landscape changes and balancing productivity and efficiency with security. The tactics of malicious actors change daily and vulnerabilities are being disclosed hourly. It becomes difficult to ingest all of the new information and create a plan that will stand the test of time. As for striking a delicate balance with security and productivity, the challenge is one that is solved by a strong leadership team and a culture dedicated to the success and security of the company.

What is the most exciting, most amazing, or scariest thing that has happened to you during your work?
I attended a cybersecurity conference at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on behalf of Rite-Solutions and heard some amazing speakers. During the lunch break, I sat down at a random table far away from the podium. I came to quickly realize as others were sitting down that I had accidentally sat down at the head table. I was next to high ranking military officials and several influential leaders in U.S. cyber operations and defense. They told me I was welcome to stay at the table and enjoy lunch; this was an unforgettable experience.

What previous employers and positions led to your current role?
As a broke college grad, I worked as an unpaid intern at Raytheon in their Cyber Threat Intelligence Group for several months before getting hired by Rite-Solutions. I had to drive an hour each way over 2 bridges (and pay an out of state toll) in order to gain the experience, and confidence that was necessary to land me in my current position. Perseverance is key!

What is the best job you’ve ever had and why?
My current job is by far my best job. There are very few days where I feel I am going to “work.” I enjoy what I do and I enjoy the people I do it with.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had and why?
I have never had a bad job but I will say that some of the hardest/longest days at work were in the restaurant industry during busy holidays.

What were you like as a kid?
Active, outgoing, injury prone, nerdy.

What were your favorite books/shows/movies when you were a kid?
Books: Chronicles of Narnia, Magic Tree House, Tom Clancy, Harry Potter, Enders Game
Shows: Global Guts, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Gargoyles, TMNT
Movies: Star Wars, Home Alone, 3 Ninjas, Sandlot

What did you believe about this career before entering into it that proved to be different once you were in?
I believed that this career was more about technology and less about people but it turns out it is the complete opposite. You have to be extremely competent technically AND know how to effectively communicate with all sorts of people.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what other career(s) might you have pursued?
I could have seen myself pursuing a law degree, a degree in exercise science, or pursuing a career as a stuntman.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your career?
Do not underestimate the importance of self-studying! If you are going to commit yourself to this career, you must spend hours outside of the classroom studying and honing your skills.

What advice would you give students in general?
Pursue a career that you are passionate about and remember to thank your teachers!

What are some interesting places you’ve traveled? (Can be career-related or personal.)
Oslo, Norway-including the Norwegian countryside and Paris, France