Infrared detection, radar, laser technologies were part of Ken Danter’s nine-year Navy career as an aviation electronics technician. As he transitioned to civilian life, he began to seek opportunities that would complement his experience in the Navy. He worked as an optical alignment technician before considering continuing education.
Knowing the traditional four-year degree was not something he wanted to do his friend recommended the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential. Several YouTube videos and countless hours of research later, Ken found this path was the perfect fit. The certification seamlessly merged his experience in the military with a successful career in computer networking.
“I am used to getting certificates in the Navy,” Ken said. “I came across CCPE and realized that the college offered VA benefits for industry-recognized certifications. I took that [opportunity].”
Ken enrolled in our Cisco Network Certificate in 2016, broadening his skill set and gaining the ability to manage and optimize network systems. The program also helped him prepare for and pass the CCNA certification exam. In the months that followed, Ken accepted a position as a network engineer at a private university.
“I had zero experience in networking,” he said. “The only experience I had was classroom time, lab time and my certificate. As soon as you get that certificate, doors just open for you.”
His progression in the technology sector continued to evolve as he pursued the CCNA Cyber Ops certification through the Cisco Networking Academy. This certification introduced Ken to the world of cybersecurity – a newfound interest that led him to CCPE for the second time.
“It was predestined,” Ken said. “As soon as I got the CCNA Cyber-Ops, the flyer came in the mail [announcing] that KSU was offering the Ethical Hacker [Certificate]. The next day, I was on the phone signing up for it.”
His background in the military combined with his previous certifications made the newly launched program the next milestone in his career. When the class concluded, Ken earned his Certified Ethical Hacker certification.
“The test was certainly not easy, but the class prepares you for it pretty well,” Ken said. “It is designed to teach you the material. There are boot camps that are two weeks long, and you’ll study how to pass the test, but this teaches [course] proficiency, practical use and safety.”
Ken is a security operations analyst at SecureWorks — a subsidiary of Dell Technologies. In this new role, he works alongside a team of professionals who provide information security services. The team is the “frontline for many companies around the world,” he said.
“It is all about protecting people,” he continued. “It is unfortunate when you hear stories of people getting hacked, losing money, sensitive data and becoming victims. The hacker only has to be right one time, and the defense has to be right all the time.”
To be right all the time, one must know the “enemy.” In order to know the “enemy” an ethical hacker must be aware of every kind of vulnerability possible. Knowing what the hacker may try to do allows ethical hackers to make it harder for them.
“Ethical hackers know what they are looking for to find vulnerabilities,” Ken said. “You are always looking for the vulnerabilities because you can think like the bad guy, but fortunately you are the good guy trying to seal those holes.”
This program taught Ken how to assess ethical and legal requirements of security assessment, analyze different phases of hacking, recommend strategies for evaluating the security of various systems, and implement the appropriate level of security controls.
Since starting his new role, Ken found there is a lack of awareness among the public about Certified Ethical Hackers. As a security professional, he is now advocating for the field.
“People are afraid of what they don’t understand,” Ken said. “The people that I work with know what it is and what it means, but when I tell other people, they are confused. Ethical hacking is done with your consent and knowledge. An ethical hacker will not get unauthorized access into a network. Unethical hacking will happen without you knowing. [Ethical Hackers] cannot do anything without written permission. [The CEH] is an industry standard for a reason.”
Ken wants to emphasize the seriousness of ethical hacking to the public that he feels may be misinformed through the media. With one wrong click or bad intentions, a person can be looking at serious prison time for their mistake.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a movie with good hacker,” Ken said. “The media definitely sensationalize black-hat hackers. Universally, there is little distinction between an ethical hacker and a bad hacker — until someone creates a movie about ethical hackers protecting people, stopping dangerous malware campaigns. There definitely needs to be a better representation of the community.”
Ken’s long-term vision for the future is to start his own security consulting company. In the meantime, he continues to seek opportunities for growth and development. He is currently pursuing another certification and plans to take other certificate program in the coming months.
“Technology moves fast and often,” he said. “It’s about gaining knowledge and staying ahead of the curve.”
When asked what advice he would give to prospective students considering the program, Ken suggested students get their experience now.
“Reports are out there that there is going to be a deficit of security professionals in the next 10 years,” he said. “If you don’t start now, you are already 10 years behind. There has to be more people involved because there is such a lack of security experts. Security is not going away; it is growing more and more.”