Student Spotlight: John Mattern, CISSP
Welcome back to CyberVista’s Student Spotlight Series. In this series we talk to newly-minted CISSPs who used the CyberVista system to earn their cert. This episode we talked with John Mattern, Infrastructure and Engineer Manager at Cigna Healthcare. The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
CyberVista: What are your responsibilities as Infrastructure and Engineering Manager at Cigna?
John Mattern: Essentially my responsibilities include overseeing two data centers and the team of people that support them. We develop software solutions that are a part of Cigna. A big part of my job is managing internet security, email, data loss prevention, disaster recovery, and business continuity.
CV: How did you first get interested in cybersecurity?
JM: It’s interesting you asked that because my background is entirely non-technical. I have three degrees, a bachelor’s, master’s, and my doctorate, are all in Cello Performance and Music Literature. But I can bridge the gap between my fields of studies and my career path with a good story. So as I was wrapping up my dissertation, I was also working for the School of Music and had developed a reputation for solving complex problems. The problems weren’t always scientific problems, though; sometimes I focused on people problems. Given my success with the latter, the administration asked me to contribute to their IT department. What followed were job roles that focused on Internet firewalls, protected health information (PHI), and protected data.
CV: What do you predict is the future of cybersecurity?
JM: The digital revolution that began with the worldwide fascination with the Internet, and has led to a great deal of good and convenience, and it can also go another way. Like any shared resource, the Internet requires structure, rules of conduct and the means to enforce these. Cybersecurity enforces standards in conduct and behavior across the IoT.
CV: Why did you decide to earn your CISSP certification?
I realized I was already doing a lot of the work that was covered within the eight domains of the CISSP certification. It made sense to me to take the exam because I could show the world that I had some knowledge of the different fields I was working in on a daily basis. My job title didn’t portray that and I felt that there ought to be something that signifies the actual work I was doing. The CISSP appealed to me because it deals with the “how” and the “why” from a managerial point of view.
CV: What did you like best about your CISSP course?
JM: What I really liked about the course was the variety of reinforcement techniques. I learned from reading a textbook, testing my knowledge through the Quiz Bank, and referencing on-demand videos. The Live Online lectures were especially valuable because the person-to-person interaction helped reinforce the material that we were talking about. The ability to ask questions on the spot and to receive answers or have the instructors go through the concepts in depth was tremendously helpful.
CV: What CyberVista study resources were most helpful?
JM: I would say the most valuable collective asset was the quiz bank. After learning the material, I would utilize the quiz bank to test how well I comprehended the information. It is a flexible self-testing resource I could tailor specifically to my challenges including creating customized quizzes that centered on what I needed to improve. I built quizzes of approximately 50 questions that covered material I needed to review. I was able to test myself on topics that hadn’t really sunk in yet, rather than testing myself of parts of the material that I already understood.
CV: Tell us about your exam experience.
JM: Jung [Head of Certification Training at CyberVista] presented methods during test day strategy sessions to help narrow choices and make it easier to select the right answer. Sometimes all of the answers were correct, and I had to evaluate which was the best answer. The coaching I received within the course was spot on. I finished with time to spare! I had enough time to answer all the questions, revisit the questions that bothered me, and still had ample time to triple check. I felt the answers that I put down were the answers that I would always choose, so I felt pretty confident when I made the decision to submit my exam. Obviously, I have no idea what my actual score was (the test results do not show a score breakdown upon passing).
CV: What’s your favorite CISSP domain?
JM: Hmm. I would have to say Security Engineering (Domain 3) is probably my favorite because of my fascination with Cryptography.
CV: What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
JM: Music is still a lifelong love. My wife is a first-class professional flutist, and we perform together for both fun and in professional affiliations. We enjoy traveling and outdoor adventures such as mountains and climbing (sans equipment). Colorado is one of our favorite states to explore.
Do You Want to Pass?
Be like John. 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.