In the course of your day, how much do you use technology? If you’re like most people, a cell phone, tablet, laptop, and personal assistant device like Alexa are usually within reach. Technology also spills over into our work lives. Whether you work for a mom and pop shop or a federal agency like the Department of Defense, technology has revolutionized the way we do business. However, as convenient and progressive as technology is, the flip side is that the information shared through technology is only as safe as the cybersecurity that protects it.
Joshua Foster, the Cybersecurity Operations Manager at Tiber Creek Consulting, is obsessed with keeping people safe. Tiber Creek Consulting is a federal contracting company that provides software engineering, software development, and information assurance services to federal agencies and commercial clients to meet their cybersecurity and software development needs. In short, Tiber Creek Consulting ensures that hackers are unsuccessful at their attempts to use technology for nefarious purposes. Ironically, if everyone at Tiber Creek Consulting is doing their job well, we’ll never know about the crises they’ve helped the world avoid.
“If you’re doing your job correctly, there won’t be any fires; there won’t be anything. It’s just business as usual. When people ask what we’re doing, the answer is “We’re protecting everything.” It’s good in that way. I think that having the recognition is one thing, but actually being there on the front lines to protect, I think that’s where the real value is,” explains Foster.
In a unique alliance, Tiber Creek Consulting, the Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program, and the City of Waynesboro have joined forces to fast track more cybersecurity technicians into the rapidly growing field. Students that are trained in the program have the opportunity to complete a paid apprenticeship at Tiber Creek Consulting to earn their coveted first year of real world experience. The program is offered for free or at a deep discount for most students and has been a game changer for high school graduates, career changers, veterans, and women looking to enter the cybersecurity field. So far, eight apprentices have been hired full-time by Tiber Creek after completing their apprenticeship year.
“What Blue Ridge has done is shown that you don’t need to have an expensive four-year degree, and you don’t need to be a guru with a computer since age twelve to work in cybersecurity. They found the basis for entering this market. It helps other people realize that maybe it’s possible to come down on that four-year degree and offer a two-year degree and make it a little faster. I can very much speak to the quality of candidates that they’ve given to us. It’s been nothing but fantastic,” Foster says.
Foster himself had an unlikely path into the cybersecurity field. He first studied psychology and then switched gears into IT. However, his psychology degree has proven useful as his role requires putting himself in the shoes of potential hackers to reverse engineer their strategies. Being a leader during the COVID-19 pandemic has also put his psychology background to the test.
When asked about being a leader during a global pandemic, Foster says, “In terms of the work for us, it really wasn’t much of a drop-off. When COVID hit and we migrated everyone to home and mainly had to deal with making sure everyone had secure connections. As a leader checking in with the team, I’m really using my psychology degree. I always like to think first about the person and their mental health. I think that comes before anything else, and that’s what Tiber Creek likes for a baseline of their employee resources. We even have the COVID leave where you’re able to take off if a family member gets sick to help them recover. So we really prioritize having that family atmosphere first and then the work.”
This people-first mentality is what makes Tiber Creek a beacon in Waynesboro for aspiring cybersecurity professionals. Admittedly, Foster acknowledges that getting started can seem overwhelming for people considering cybersecurity studies. Foster advises, “Even though it seems scary and many people wonder if they can do it, I find that it’s mostly a stigma. A lot of what cybersecurity is is just protection. And if you learn how things work, you can learn how to protect them.”
To learn more about Tiber Creek Consulting, tips to maximize your cybersecurity at work, or advice for entering the cybersecurity field , check out the Waynesboro at Work podcast! Find the Waynesboro at Work podcast on YouTube, Spotify, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Breaker, PocketCasts, and Anchor.