Welcome to the new CyberVista Student Spotlight series. In this series we talk to newly-minted CISSPs who used the CyberVista system to prepare to earn their certification.
Student Spotlight: Gail Murray, CISSP
We spoke with Gail Murray, who has over a decade of experience in information security and passed the CISSP exam at the end of March, 2017. The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
CyberVista: How and when did you break into the cybersecurity field?
Gail Murray: I started out in 2005 doing system administration, then moved into network engineering and software development. Through those jobs, I learned a lot, but they didn’t fit exactly what I was looking to do. Around that time, I had a friend on my task force who worked in information security. And I asked him, “Hey, can I sit with you sometime to learn more about what you’re doing?”
Around 2009, when he left to take another position, the manager put me in the driver’s seat. So I started researching and reading a lot, so I could step into his shoes. My career in information security progressed from there.
CV: It sounds like you’ve held a lot of different cybersecurity positions. Based on your experience, how have you seen the field change?
GM: When I first started out, it seemed like people were just getting used to the Internet. Things were fine in the beginning, but then people started experiencing security issues, hacking, data theft. I became interested in how to minimize some of these problems – because, of course, you can’t fully prevent it.
CV: So, where do you see the future going?
GM: I don’t think people are educated enough about cybersecurity and how to be safe on the Internet. I see there being lots of opportunities to teach adults, as well as children, about social engineering and the importance of online privacy. I see education as being the next “big thing.”
CV: Speaking of cybersecurity education, when did you realize that you needed the CISSP certification?
GM: Probably about four years ago. I had passed the Security+ exam, and I could see that working toward the CISSP was needed. Ultimately, I think the certs give you an overview about what to do in real world situations.
CV: What tips do you have for people who are studying for the CISSP exam? What helped you the most?
GM: Practicing questions was really helpful. I used CyberVista’s question bank a lot, plus there was the initial diagnostic, midterm, and final exams. Even though those aren’t the exact questions on the exam, getting used to the wording and doing all those questions helped me. There was also a system at CyberVista for figuring out my strengths and weaknesses – it honed in on the areas I needed to study more.
CV: So, after you started tracking your progress, did your intuition align with what your strengths and weaknesses actually were?
GM: It was actually pretty accurate. It’s just that those weren’t the domains I wanted to study [laughs]. I suggest, for anyone else, that you focus on your weaker areas first. Get those down before you do anything else, because that will save you time in the end.
CV: Do you have a favorite CISSP exam domain?
GM: No [laughs].
CV: Ok, what about a favorite topic?
GM: The topic that I was most intrigued with was Physical Security. It made me look at things a lot differently. For example, when I see a park bench outside I realize that it’s there for people-watching, which deters criminal activity. Benches are not just there for people just to sit and relax, it’s a crime deterrent. It was the little things that caught my interest and increased my understanding.
CV: What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
GM: For fun, I like to make memories with my family and friends by engaging in unique experiences. I like to research and do things that I have never done before. I never like to do the same thing twice! I love to network with others and partake in great conversations. I enjoy interactive, 3D virtual simulation games.
I also enjoy doing things that will allow me to leave a legacy that our future generation can benefit from. I enjoy talking with teenagers about their goals for the future. Right now, after taking this exam and passing it, I’m motivating other women to start studying. It definitely feels good when someone says, “Because you did it, Gail, I have faith that I can do it, too.”
Do You Want to Pass?
Just like Gail, we want to motivate people to take and pass the CISSP exam. At CyberVista we have two goals: Help you learn the material so you can pass the exam, and help you retain the information so you can apply what you learn for the long term. Learn more about CyberVista’s CISSP Training Course here.