Career Notes 8.9.20
Ep 10 | 8.9.20

Selena Larson: The Green Goldfish and cyber threat intelligence. [Analyst]


Selena Larson: Hi, my name is Selena Larson, I am a cyber threat intelligence analyst at Dragos. We are an industrial cybersecurity company.

Selena Larson: So when I was a kid, I really wanted to be an author. And I remember writing in maybe second grade a book, quote unquote, called "The Green Goldfish". It was about the story of a goldfish who was green instead of orange and some of the struggles that he had faced and bullying with his peers and stuff. And as I kind of got a little bit older, I was like, I don't know about a writer, but I I'm thinking more maybe like a journalist because that sounds exciting. You can investigate things, you can do research, you can meet lots of different people and travel the world and have some cool stories. So I ended up going to journalism school. I took my undergrad at Arizona State University and I became a journalist and I kind of bounced around actually a little bit.

Selena Larson: And then when I moved to San Francisco seven or eight years ago, it was like, oh, well, technology is the news here. Like, I am a news reporter. In fact, that's what I said in my interview. I said, I am a news reporter and in San Francisco technology is the news. And I got super lucky because I was, you know, thrown into tech at a very exciting time, certainly as cybersecurity and privacy issues were becoming a lot more sort of mainstream, I feel like, especially when we're talking about a lot of these like social networks and platforms. So I ultimately became a cybersecurity reporter at CNN and at the time I liked my job. I thought it was interesting, but I felt that as a journalist, unless you have like a very specific sort of defined beat, you kind of have to be like a jack of all trades and a master of none, if that makes any sense. And cybersecurity isn't just a beat in and of itself. There's a lot of different sort of subsectors in security. And of course, there's industrial cybersecurity. So I became particularly interested in that after writing about it and kind of decided that, you know, this is something that really interests me. I feel like I could really dive in here and become a subject matter expert on industrial cybersecurity. I feel like the skills that I have as a journalist would be applied really well in this field. And so I kind of just decided to to sort of make the switch.

Selena Larson: So in my role as an analyst, I do a lot of research and reporting. In fact, it's kind of it's kind of interesting how closely aligned or similar skills required from a investigative journalist slash reporter and a cyber threat intelligence analyst. Right. So there's a lot of reporting. There's a lot of reading. There's a lot of investigating and different ways finding patterns and information, finding patterns in data. The role of cyber threat intelligence analyst honestly varies depending on who you're talking to, what their background is, what companies they have worked for, what different intelligence shops look like. But I thought that my eight year old nephew described it perfectly. He said when I was attempting to explain my job to his parents, he said, "It sounds like you're an Internet cop." And I was like, that's actually a pretty good description of it, right? Know like an Internet cop, I don't know, like we're looking for bad guys and trying to help people keep themselves safe.

Selena Larson: When I came to cyber security or threat intelligence from journalism, I felt like a fish out of water. I had the biggest imposter syndrome you could possibly imagine, because I was very early on at my company and I soon realized eventually I realized that me not being someone who comes from a long history of doing cyber work or intel work, like not having that background gives me a different perspective on the work that I am doing. So I would say that like for people that are getting into this field, don't be intimidated by people whose backgrounds are exclusively tech or have been coding since they were small or playing with computers and, you know, they had built their own machine like 15. Right? Like, I think it's getting better for sure. But they're still sort of this expectation that people who work in cybersecurity and information security are the highly technical people with these like very technical backgrounds. You have to have a computer science degree. And I'm here to tell you that you don't.

Selena Larson: As a journalist, I have a journalist background provides me with a different and unique perspective as opposed to, you know, a lot of folks in the industry.