The role of cybersecurity in the internet age with Emad Nawasreh
November 30, 2022
by Britney Rivers
Nexus Cybersecurity Bootcamp Instructor Emad Nawasreh talks about how he uses his experience in the industry to teach and inspire his students.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?
Emad: My name is Emad Nawasreh. I work as a senior security engineer at Ascena retail business. I have been with them for almost 6 months. Prior to that, I worked with Workforce Software as a senior cloud security engineer.
I have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in engineering management. I have been working in the cybersecurity industry for more than a decade. In addition, I have earned more than ten international certifications in cybersecurity from various vendors, including OCI cybersecurity and Architect, GIAC Global Industrial Cybersecurity Professional (GCISP), GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC), Zscaler Certified Cloud Administrator Internet Access, CCNA Security, CCNP, Palo Alto Networks ACE, and Fortinet NSE5 (FortiManager). I also completed the CISSP by Isc2, which is one of the most well-respected certifications in cybersecurity.
I have been teaching cybersecurity courses at various different universities across the United States for over 6 years. I am also a program coach, which means I help with the assessment of instructors, conduct job interviews, and build cybersecurity curriculums.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN CYBERSECURITY? HOW HAS THIS INTEREST IMPACTED OR INFLUENCED YOUR CAREER?
Emad: Back in 2012, I made the shift to cybersecurity. I was working in IT at the time and I started taking courses in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is one of those industries where it’s always changing and evolving, and that was fascinating to me. I was regularly taking proficiency exams to stay on top of current trends. Those assessments involve long nights of studying and the tests lasted for hours. Cybersecurity is a journey, not a sprint. But the rewards are definitely worth it in the end.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN INSTRUCTOR AFTER TAKING THE CYBERSECURITY COURSES AND EARNING YOUR CERTIFICATIONS?
Emad: I love to help others. I am very passionate about sharing my knowledge. I gain fulfillment when I see my students and colleagues succeed in their careers. I have the expertise and hands-on experience. I teach part-time with the Nexus Cybersecurity Bootcamp to share my knowledge with others and give back to my community.
My success is not how many credentials I have or how many certifications I have. My success is rooted in what I inspire others to do. I can accomplish this goal by teaching and playing an active role in recruiting for the cybersecurity program and the industry as a whole.
WHY IS CYBERSECURITY IMPORTANT?
Emad: Nowadays, we are all connected to technology. Regardless of the business model, the size of the business, and whether it’s a private or public company, there is no business without the internet. There is no business without a network. All industries—nuclear, oil and gas, retail, medical, universities, and government—are connected to the network and need to be protected.
With teaching, for example, if the network is down, you can’t access exams, assignments, projects, and presentations. Everything is connected to cyber in some way or another. Technology is always evolving, and most things are connected to a network: our homes, cars, computers, etc. We are more exposed to data breaches because most things are digital. Cybersecurity is about mitigating risks.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A LEARNER CAN TAKE AWAY FROM THE CYBERSECURITY PROGRAM?
Emad: One of my students was impacted by a breach. Someone hacked into her bank account and did a wire transfer. She lost $15,000. This was her biggest motivation to sign up for the Nexus Cybersecurity program. She told me that if she had enrolled in the course sooner, the breach on her bank account would not have happened. Having basic security knowledge can help protect your sensitive information.
HAVE YOU HAD YOUR IDENTITY COMPROMISED BEFORE? WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME?
Emad: I was going through a job transition. For jobs, you have to share your social security number and other personal information. I had monitoring in place to keep watch of suspicious activity. I saw someone apply for 2 credit cards under my name on Credit Karma. I don’t know who did it, but when you are applying for jobs you have to get background checks and somehow my personal information got exposed.
Right away, I did a credit freeze at the credit bureau. I highly recommend doing a credit freeze or monitoring your credit to mitigate risks. At any point in time, there can be a data breach and your private information can be compromised. It’s better to be proactive rather than reactive.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF TEACHING THE CYBERSECURITY COURSE?
Emad: My favorite part about teaching is how I can improve people’s lives through cybersecurity from all aspects—professional, financial, and confidence-building. As an adjunct professor, I help my students understand the content and help them pass proficiency certifications. However, my responsibility is not only limited to presenting labs and documents. I also want them to feel better about themselves. After taking a course with me, I want you to share the knowledge and prevent your family and community from becoming victims of cyber attacks. I am passionate about cybersecurity because of the impact I can make on people’s lives.
I have been a part of the Nexus Cybersecurity Bootcamp graduation two times. I enjoy watching my students learn and grow throughout the program and become successful in their careers afterward. I also worked with my past students in the professional world as well. Some of my students teach with me or work with me. I always say that my success is not only what I achieve. It’s also what I inspire others to do.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ANYTHING ELSE?
Emad: I just want to emphasize how important cybersecurity is. To be able to protect your personal information and share the knowledge with your family and friends is a valuable skill to have. As long as the internet is a part of our daily lives, we will need the cybersecurity industry. The demand for cybersecurity professionals will only continue to grow in the future.