Meet the Class of 2018

Meet the Class of 2018

Dedication, drive, and a passion for learning. These qualities shared by SANS Technology Institute students are illuminated in the commencement guide biographies of our most recent graduates.

Click on the name below to read their biography.

Master of Science in
Information Security Engineering


Master of Science in
Information Security Management


Preston Ackerman

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Preston Ackerman is a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Despite a technical background, his initial roles in the FBI were not focused on networking or IT security, but he has gone on to work on IT projects at the FBI Headquarter...

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Preston Ackerman is a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Despite a technical background, his initial roles in the FBI were not focused on networking or IT security, but he has gone on to work on IT projects at the FBI Headquarters and as a cybercrime supervisor and investigator in Oklahoma City.

Preston began attending the SANS Technology Institute in 2015. The program gave him the opportunity to update his technical skill set, and also reminded him how much he enjoyed the hands-on, technical work of IT security. With the knowledge and skills he's acquired in the program, he has been able to take an increasingly technical approach to his current role as an investigator. He has also found increased confidence in his interactions with highly technical security professionals, and has become a strong security advocate within the community.

Preston has focused much of his graduate work on effective messaging of information security to end-users for maximum impact. He published the paper Impediments to Adoption of Two-factor Authentication by Home End-Users in 2015.

Early in his enrollment in the master's program, Preston had the good fortune to meet a local university professor who would become his mentor. That professor has had a profound impact on Preston's continued education, serving as a sounding board for research ideas, helping Preston perform complex research, and offering constant and invaluable encouragement.

Preston also credits his family, particularly his wife, for their patience and encouragement. His two young children can often be found "helping" him study by sitting in his lap and scribbling positive messages in his books when he isn't looking.

The Ackerman family lives outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Robert Adams

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Robert Adams' career in information security began in 2006, when he joined the U.S. Navy as a cryptologic technician. He later served as a security analyst and engineer at Microsoft, where he became passionate about automation. During his time at the SANS Technology Institute...

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Robert Adams' career in information security began in 2006, when he joined the U.S. Navy as a cryptologic technician. He later served as a security analyst and engineer at Microsoft, where he became passionate about automation.

During his time at the SANS Technology Institute, Robert transitioned to his current role at Red Canary, where he helps clients maximize their endpoint detection and response operations and overall security posture. His regular interaction with various IT security professionals has given him powerful insight into the security challenges his customers face, and helps him guide them to decisions that will best impact their security programs.

The graduate program's focus on team projects, collaboration, and written and oral communication have all provided Robert with the skills and confidence required for success. The program has also helped shape his view of the most important part of security: people. Thanks to STI, Robert understands firsthand that security moves forward through leadership and soft skills, not just technical aptitude.

Robert earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from City University of Seattle in 2012. His publications as a master's candidate have included The Power and Implications of Enterprise Incident Response with PowerShell (2015) and How to Leverage PowerShell to Create a User-Friendly Version of WinDump (2016). He cites his 24-hour group project and presentation as a defining moment in his graduate education; the feedback, coaching, and critiques he received continue to provide multiple dividends in terms of his career.

Robert believes the only way to be successful in an intense, technical graduate program is by having a strong support system. In addition to his STI instructors, colleagues, and peers, his family served as his allies, offering encouragement at every step. His wife, Aubree, has been his greatest champion, providing pivotal support and often reminding him that he could do it when he needed to hear it most.


Timothy Collyer

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Timothy Collyer is the Director of Information Security at Motorola Solutions, where he leads Corporate Information Security to protect company assets and data while supporting new endeavors and innovation. Over the course of Tim's graduate studies...

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Timothy Collyer is the Director of Information Security at Motorola Solutions, where he leads Corporate Information Security to protect company assets and data while supporting new endeavors and innovation.

Over the course of Tim's graduate studies, he has grown from someone simply contributing to a team to someone managing multiple teams. As his career has shifted from an engineering focus to a management track, the lessons in leadership he has learned from the SANS Technology Institute have helped him prepare for each new level of responsibility.

"I have come to believe that information security is about half technical in nature and half social," Tim explains. "The ability to sway minds, demonstrate risk, obtain funding, change cultures, and justify painful decisions is just as important to the overall success of an information security program as technical brilliance. I pursued the MSISE out of delight in studying the technical side of things, but time and again the focus of the program on communication, presentation, and leadership has been on point and much needed."

Tim's published papers include Android, BYOD, and Airwatch MDM: A Policy and Technical Review (2014); Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: Geolocation Data and Account Misuse (2014); and BGP Hijinks and Hijacks - Incident Response When Your Backbone Is Your Enemy (2016).

Tim credits his family, especially his wife, Sarah, as being essential to his ability to obtain this degree. For years, his family gave him the space he needed to "click and clack away," as he puts it, at his hours of schoolwork, and he recognizes that this accomplishment is as much theirs as it is his. Tim and Sarah live in Saint Charles, Illinois, with their children, Eleanor and Finnegan.


Christopher Farrell

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Christopher Farrell recently joined Salesforce as their Product Security Incident Response Lead. Throughout most of his graduate studies, however, Chris worked for the financial services firm Navient. Shortly before completing his master's degree through SANS Technology Institute...

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Christopher Farrell recently joined Salesforce as their Product Security Incident Response Lead. Throughout most of his graduate studies, however, Chris worked for the financial services firm Navient.

Shortly before completing his master's degree through SANS Technology Institute, Chris was promoted to lead Navient's Incident Management and Threat Assessment team, and he found the graduate course material immediately applicable to his role. He recalls leading his team through an incident that involved targeted phishing and custom malware; Chris was instrumental in reverse-engineering the malware to understand why it got past perimeter defenses, and he later led the remediation effort.

When asked what he's learned from the STI program, Chris said, "Security is like perfection. You strive for it and never reach it, but the journey continually brings you closer to it. My understanding of how to weigh risk in a way that makes sense for the business evolved during the program. Each course helped me better understand the partnership required between business and security to be successful."

Chris also holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Technology from Purdue University. As a master's candidate, he wrote and published the papers Securing Static Vulnerable Devices (2013) and Looking Under the Rock: Deployment Strategies for TLS Decryption (2017).

Chris recognizes all of the sacrifices his family made that allowed him to complete his master's degree. It was their continual and unwavering support (and dinner plates brought to his desk) that made the biggest difference in helping him reach graduation.

Chris, his wife, Anna, and their children, William and Meara, live outside of Indianapolis, Indiana.


Sebastien Godin

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Sebastien Godin has spent the past 15 years in service at Canada's Department of National Defense (DND). While enrolled as a SANS master's student, Seb was promoted to major and is now responsible for planning for the Canadian military's Security Operations Center (SOC)...

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Sebastien Godin has spent the past 15 years in service at Canada's Department of National Defense (DND). While enrolled as a SANS master's student, Seb was promoted to major and is now responsible for planning for the Canadian military's Security Operations Center (SOC).

What Seb finds most interesting about information security is the rapid pace at which knowledge and perspectives develop and change. "No matter how much I know, there will always be more," he said. This mindset is what drove him to enroll at the SANS Technology Institute in the first place, and why he's found the hyper-current content so engaging.

The program has given Seb a deeper appreciation of the complexities involved in information security. He's also found greater empathy for those who might not immediately comprehend the whole picture, or the minutia and technical details that are often involved.

Seb also holds a Bachelor of Applied Science, with a double major in Pure and Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, from the University of Montreal. His publications as a master's candidate included Using COIN Doctrine to Improve Cybersecurity Policies and Using Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 to Create an Endpoint Detection and Response Solution, both published in 2017.

Completing the master's program while balancing family life and a full-time job presented many challenges. Seb found comfort and motivation from his wife, Emilie, who kept him on track with her constant encouragement, and he believes she is the one who is truly responsible for his completing the degree.

Seb, Emilie, and their daughters, Aryanna and Eloise, live in Ottawa, Ontario.


Jeremiah Hainly

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

To date, Jeremiah Hainly is the youngest graduate of the Master of Science in Information Security Engineering program at the SANS Technology Institute. Upon his graduation, he was promoted to Senior Analyst Cyber Defense Engineer at The Hershey Company. He completed a bachelor's...

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To date, Jeremiah Hainly is the youngest graduate of the Master of Science in Information Security Engineering program at the SANS Technology Institute. Upon his graduation, he was promoted to Senior Analyst Cyber Defense Engineer at The Hershey Company. He completed a bachelor's degree in Security Risk and Analysis from Pennsylvania State University in 2015.

Although his undergraduate program prepared him well, Jeremiah found he had to teach himself many of the technical skills he wanted to acquire. In doing so, he fell in love with the technical side of security, and he soon applied to the SANS Technology Institute seeking more knowledge.

During his first graduate course, Hacking Techniques and Incident Response, Jeremiah was so inspired by instructor John Strand's passion for cybersecurity that he knew he'd found his calling. It was the first time he realized he wasn't alone in his love for the field of information security. That sense of community has helped him grow as a professional, and continues to push him to make a greater impact in the field.

The master's program gave Jeremiah a strong foundation to better understand security at a deep level, and to communicate more effectively with leadership. Over time, that combination of skills has helped him make highly impactful recommendations and increase the maturity of the security program at Hershey.

As a graduate student, Jeremiah wrote and published Auto-Nuke It from Orbit: A Framework for Critical Security Control Automation (2017), and another paper will be published this fall.

At Hershey, Jeremiah works alongside fellow master's candidate Brian Nafziger, whom he credits as a mentor in school, work, and life. Jeremiah's wife, Christine, and close friends and family were also very supportive and understanding while he completed the demanding curriculum.

Jeremiah and Christine live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


Dallas Haselhorst

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Dallas Haselhorst is an experienced information security consultant. He pursued concurrent degrees at Fort Hays State University, earning both a Bachelor of Science in Information Networking and Telecommunications and a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Information Systems...

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Dallas Haselhorst is an experienced information security consultant. He pursued concurrent degrees at Fort Hays State University, earning both a Bachelor of Science in Information Networking and Telecommunications and a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Information Systems. Dallas is a frequent contributor to the information security community, lending his time to various open-source projects and serving as one of the organizers for BSidesKC.

As a small business owner and consultant, Dallas has been able to use what he's learned at the SANS Technology Institute to influence the security of many organizations. Dallas says that the actionable intelligence he took away from each course had such value and reach that it was not uncommon for him to apply it to hundreds of environments.

In the years since he began the master's program, Dallas has gained a clearer understanding of the reality of the information security field, and he continues to marvel at the influx of raw talent. At the same time, he's developed a deeper understanding of how difficult it can be to effect change.

"I now see that security professionals need more than just technical skills," he explained. "Hands-on keyboard skills are fantastic and necessary, but for more far-reaching impacts, soft skills such as presenting and impactful writing are what truly sell ideas."

Dallas is grateful to his wife, Dacia, who recognized the importance of this opportunity early on, and has supported him throughout the master's program. The understanding and encouragement of his children has also had a huge impact on Dallas--more than they even realize. Friends, family, colleagues, instructors, and other students have been indispensable as well. Throughout the program he has relied on them to push him forward, answer questions, serve as a sounding board, and much, much more. Dallas and his family live in Hays, Kansas.

Dallas is a frequent contributor to the information security community, lending his time to various open-source projects and serving as one of the organizers for BSidesKC.


James Hendrick

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

James Hendrick has almost 20 years of experience in the security field, ranging from Internet start-ups to large companies. Today he serves as Security Architect, Global Information Security at Liberty Mutual Insurance In 2014, Jim saw the SANS Technology Institute as an opportunity to advance...

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James Hendrick has almost 20 years of experience in the security field, ranging from Internet start-ups to large companies. Today he serves as Security Architect, Global Information Security at Liberty Mutual Insurance.

In 2014, Jim saw the SANS Technology Institute as an opportunity to advance his career, and he entered the program with the full support of his CISO,whowrote Jim'sletterofrecommendation.Thatencouragement continued throughout his time in the program which, in turn, led to Jim's professional advancement. Since his enrollment, Jim has moved from a technical analyst position to a new role as one of the company's security architects.

During his first year in the master's program, Jim put his new knowledge to use with suggestions that were well received at work, eventually leading his company to develop an entire program enhancing security visibility across the organization. That program is now the core of a newly created security analytics team, and was the subject of Jim's published graduate research papers Security Visibility in the Enterprise (2014) and An Organic Approach to Implementing the Critical Security Controls (2014).

In addition to specific technical skills, the graduate program has taught Jim to see problems in information security from many different angles, and to consider the overall impact to an organization when addressing threats and designing potential solutions. The program also helped him develop his writing and presentation skills to reach specific audiences. In the end, Jim says the program has fundamentally changed how he thinks, not just about information security, but about leadership in general.

Jim says he could not have completed a single course without the support of his wife, Lynda. Going back to school also forged common ground with his daughter, Kate, who at the same time was pursuing a bachelor's degree in physics at Jim's alma mater, the University of Southern Maine. He may have beaten her to a master's degree, but he concedes she'll almost certainly win the race to a PhD.

Jim and his family live in Ogunquit, Maine.


Joshua Lewis

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Joshua Lewis has over 14 years of experience working in information security and IT operations. He is currently the Vice President of Threat Intelligence & Incident Response at Umpqua Bank and leads a Cyber Protection Team in the Washington Air National Guard. Josh previously...

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Joshua Lewis has over 14 years of experience working in information security and IT operations. He is currently the Vice President of Threat Intelligence & Incident Response at Umpqua Bank and leads a Cyber Protection Team in the Washington Air National Guard. Josh previously held several positions of increasing responsibility at EY, in its National Advisory Information Security Center of Excellence.

Earning a degree while working full-time is no small feat, but coming into the SANS Technology Institute master's program Josh had experience juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. In addition to working in the private sector full-time, he served in the National Guard part-time and completed the master's program--all simultaneously.

The common thread across Josh's Air Force and civilian careers has been a growing responsibility in information security leadership. He values the flexibility the master's program afforded him in balancing his desire to both advance his career and increase his knowledge. The program also enabled him to study with what he describes as "some of the most talented students and teachers in the industry."

Today, Josh leverages skills learned in the master's program on a daily basis to orchestrate security monitoring and incident response. "The STI program has helped me ascertain a deeper and broader perspective of critical security domains such as web application security and forensics," he says. "With this enhanced perspective, I have found that I can think more comprehensively about a security challenge."

As a master's candidate, Josh published the papers Practical Approaches for MTCP Security and Incident Identification Through Long Tail Analysis, both in 2014.

Josh is grateful for the support throughout the journey from his wife, Rachel, and for her patience when so many of his nights and weekends were spent locked away in his office studying.

Josh and Rachel live outside of Portland, Oregon.


Michael Long

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Michael Long served as a Cyber Operations Specialist with the U.S. Army for almost 10 years. Now, as a Cyber Adversarial Engineer with the MITRE Corporation, he continues to serve public interests, helping sponsors improve their cybersecurity government-wide...

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Michael Long served as a Cyber Operations Specialist with the U.S. Army for almost 10 years. Now, as a Cyber Adversarial Engineer with the MITRE Corporation, he continues to serve public interests, helping sponsors improve their cybersecurity government-wide.

When Michael first joined the SANS Technology Institute, he was also a newcomer to the U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade. In the beginning he was often passed over for missions in favor of more established soldiers but, as the master's curriculum expanded his knowledge and skill set, his professional abilities and confidence grew and his superiors soon noticed. He eventually found himself working more and more missions, culminating in his ultimate selection as one of only six soldiers assigned to an important special mission.

Thanks to the lessons learned in the master's program, Michael's career continued to advance in scope and impact, and soon he was regularly briefing commanding generals, strategic executives, and congressional staffers.

Michael attributes much of his success to his graduate school instructors. The wisdom he gained from these information security experts not only helped him take on tough challenges in his work, but also inspired him to share his own knowledge with industry newcomers to pay it forward and keep the community moving ahead.

As a master's candidate, Michael published the papers Scalable Methods for Conducting Cyber Threat Hunt Operations and Attack and Defend: Linux Privilege Escalation Techniques in 2016, and Disrupting the Empire: Identifying PowerShell Empire Command and Control Activity in 2017.

Michael's wife, Nikita, has been key to his accomplishments, supporting him through long study nights, helping him rehearse for presentations, and even wearing a SANS shirt for good luck any time he had a challenging exam. He owes much of his success to her, and is eternally grateful for her love and support.

Michael, Nikita, and their son, Michael, live in Columbia, Maryland, outside of Baltimore.


Brian Nafziger

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Brian Nafziger is an information security professional with over 25 years of experience in multiple domains. He has worked in software, systems, and security within government, healthcare, telecommunications, and manufacturing and across local, regional, and global footprints. Brian is...

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Brian Nafziger is an information security professional with over 25 years of experience in multiple domains. He has worked in software, systems, and security within government, healthcare, telecommunications, and manufacturing and across local, regional, and global footprints. Brian is currently a Lead Cyber Defender at The Hershey Company.

Brian first became aware of SANS through his former co-worker Jerry Shenk. Now, after successfully completing the master's program, he has seen his career advance from a software engineering position at a small company to an important technical security leadership role at a Fortune 500 company.

The SANS Technology Institute has helped Brian, an avid and lifelong learner, organize his scattered skills and knowledge into a comprehensive framework that's both practical and useful in the information security environment. He's now able to pull knowledge from many domains, and has grown to appreciate the value of research and writing skills for his leadership development.

While a master's candidate, Brian's research included papers on Practical Attack Detection Using Big Data, Semantic Methods, and Kill Chains (2014), Practical Attack Detection, Analysis, and Response Using Big Data, Semantics, and Kill Chains within the OODA Loop (2015), and Data Mining in the Dark: Darknet Intelligence Automation (2017).

Brian thanks his wife, Jodi, and family, who often endured missed family time and kept him motivated when he grew tired of the "bitsandbytes." His managers and co-workers have also tolerated his constant references to SANS, and reminded him of the value of his education when he became unsure. Brian credits his co-worker and fellow student, Jeremiah Hainly, for fueling his enthusiasm. He is also grateful to the graduate school staff for giving him - a self-proclaimed "gray-haired geek" - the opportunity to learn and grow.

The Nafziger family resides in Lititz, Pennsylvania.


Jason Pubal

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Jason Pubal is an accomplished information security professional with a decade of experience in diverse technical environments, including public utilities, international retail, global non-profits, and financial services. For the past four years, Jason has served as the...

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Jason Pubal is an accomplished information security professional with a decade of experience in diverse technical environments, including public utilities, international retail, global non-profits, and financial services. For the past four years, Jason has served as the Director of Perimeter Security at Visa.

In his master's application essay, Jason wrote that he would someday lead a security program at a Fortune 500 company. Shortly thereafter he was hired by Visa. Within two years he was promoted to management, which he attributes to the networking and research opportunities afforded him at the SANS Technology Institute. Interactions with his peers and instructors, and their resulting lasting relationships, have greatly contributed to his professional growth and presented more than one job opportunity.

While a master's candidate, Jason focused his research on various aspects of managing his own security program, and his published papers included Building an Application Vulnerability Management Program (2014), Web Application Firewalls: Enterprise Techniques (2015), and Bug Bounty Programs: Enterprise Implementation (2017).

Jason places great value on both the paper and presentation requirements of the STI master's program. "The opportunity to dive deeply into the material, formulate my own thoughts and opinions, and contribute something new to the space definitely carried over to my day job," he explained. "Each conversation after completing a paper was a little more thoughtful, confident, and articulate because of the research I had done." Jason is eternally grateful to his wife, and super-mom, Ellen. Shortly after giving birth to their first child, Ada, Ellen did double-duty, which allowed Jason to study for the GIAC GSE certification and finish his degree.

The Pubal family lives in Ashburn, Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC.


Nathaniel Quist

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Nathaniel "Q" Quist works as an Incident Response Engineer at LogRhythm Labs in Boulder, Colorado. His work focuses on Active Defense countermeasures and methods to increase the defensive capabilities of organizations. Q is a U.S. Army veteran with experience in advanced network threat...

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Nathaniel "Q" Quist works as an Incident Response Engineer at LogRhythm Labs in Boulder, Colorado. His work focuses on Active Defense countermeasures and methods to increase the defensive capabilities of organizations. Q is a U.S. Army veteran with experience in advanced network threat analysis and advanced persistent threat detection at the NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center (NTOC).

His enrollment in the SANS Technology Institute has directly impacted Q's professional growth. Before he was halfway through the program, Q had been promoted twice, largely based on the skills he had acquired through his graduate courses in advanced forensics. On a number of occasions since joining the master's program, Q has leveraged what he's learned to go above and beyond his expected job duties, performing additional tasks faster than expected and saving valuable time and resources.

As a master's candidate, Q built and studied a labyrinth in his home lab environment designed to attract and deceive would-be attackers. He published two papers on his work: Active Defense through Deceptive Configuration Techniques (2016) and Active Defense via a Labyrinth of Deception (2016).

Q acknowledges his wife, Elissa, whose strength and energy encouraged him throughout his graduate studies. This degree is very much her prize, as well, because of her sacrifices and the time she spent alongside him. Q says his three daughters also gave him the confidence and the motivation to persevere. His ultimate motivation was to lead by example, showing them that if you push yourself you can always achieve what you set your mind to accomplish. Q also thanks his extended family and friends, whose support he regularly relied upon, and fellow alumni, who accompanied and inspired him on this journey.

The Quist family lives outside of Boulder, Colorado.


Gabriel Sanchez

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

For the past 15 years, Gabriel Sanchez has worked in IT security across several industries, including utilities, government research, and banking. He spent nearly 10 years at a large electric cooperative in Central Florida, where he took on roles of increasing responsibility. He was recently...

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For the past 15 years, Gabriel Sanchez has worked in IT security across several industries, including utilities, government research, and banking. He spent nearly 10 years at a large electric cooperative in Central Florida, where he took on roles of increasing responsibility. He was recently hired by Deutsche Bank as Vice President of Incident Management at the Security Operations Center for the Americas, a job he obtained in part due to his growth in the SANS Technology Institute master's program.

While in the STI program, Gabriel was tasked with developing a security program for the entire electric cooperative in less than two years, including infrastructure, deployment of new tools, training of all employees, and creation of new cybersecurity policies. He was able to apply what he learned in his graduate courses to real-world problems, and it helped him overcome the daunting task of pioneering a new cybersecurity initiative. In the end, his results were shared with other cooperatives throughout the nation and paved the way for hundreds of similar programs.

As a graduate student, Gabriel published the papers Case Study: Critical Controls that Sony Should Have Implemented (2015), Don't Always Judge a Packet by Its Cover (2016), and Man-In-The-Middle Attack Against Modbus TCP Illustrated with Wireshark (2017).

Gabriel would like to thank his wife, Giovanna, without whom he would not have been able to obtain this degree. She has been his rock throughout the past three years, making many sacrifices and taking care of day-to- day tasks so he could concentrate on coursework. Gabriel would also like to thank his son, Max, for always being patient with him when he couldn't make it to his soccer practices, and his father for taking Max to all those practices.

The Sanchez family lives in Ocala, Florida.


Sumesh Shivdas

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Sumesh Shivdas has over 25 years of industrial experience in the information technology field with concentrations in software design, development, support, and security engineering/architecture. He presently serves as a Security Architect for a financial non-profit...

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Sumesh Shivdas has over 25 years of industrial experience in the information technology field with concentrations in software design, development, support, and security engineering/architecture. He presently serves as a Security Architect for a financial non-profit.

Sumesh earned a Master's in Applied Computer Science from the National Institute of Technology in Raipur, India, in 1992. Subsequently, he worked in software development and then joined the financial sector, where his focus has been on the security of financial transactions for the past 20 years.

Sumesh was eventually approached by management to apply for a new security engineer position at his organization. Looking to grow into this role, Sumesh decided to enter the SANS Technology Institute master's program to gain the necessary technical expertise. While in the program he published the papers Protecting Home Devices from Malicious or Blacklisted Websites (2015) and Automating Provisioning of NetFlow Analyzers (2016). He attributes his more holistic view of security and leadership to what he learned in the program, and found his experience at STI both challenging and fun.

Sumesh says he can never thank his wife, Sheeba, enough for the sacrifices and adjustments she made with the family while he was pursuing his degree. He could not have completed the program without their support.

Sumesh, Sheeba, and their children, Aaryan and Ajith, reside outside of Washington, DC.


Jason Simsay

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Jason Simsay has nearly two decades of experience improving information security for a number of small-to-midsize community banks in his home state of Maine. In 2017, Jason joined Bar Harbor Bank & Trust as the Information Security Officer. Jason previously worked at...

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Jason Simsay has nearly two decades of experience improving information security for a number of small-to-midsize community banks in his home state of Maine. In 2017, Jason joined Bar Harbor Bank & Trust as the Information Security Officer. Jason previously worked at Bangor Savings Bank, where he held increasingly senior roles over his 10-year tenure.

In his most recent position with Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Jason moved into a management-focused role, due in large part to his desire to continue developing soft skills. It was a challenge he would not have sought out before completing the SANS Technology Institute master's program.

Jason has described his commitment to furthering his education as an inspiration to others, noting a former colleague who recently applied and was accepted to the SANS Technology Institute. Jason is grateful for the role models and relationships that served to mentor him along the way and is excited to do the same for others.

As a master's candidate, Jason published Is It Patched Or Is It Not? (2015) and Incident Handling Preparation Learning Normal with the Kansa PowerShell Incident Response Framework (2016).

Jason thanks his family, in particular his wife, Angela, for being tremendously supportive and ensuring time for him to focus on his studies. He is also grateful to his father and a number of fellow graduate students who volunteered to edit Jason's graduate papers and provided constructive criticism that helped shape him into a better writer.

Jason, Angela, and their two daughters, Sara and Emma, live in the town of Aurora near Bangor, Maine.


Jonathan Sweeny

Master of Science in Information Security Engineering

Jonathan "Jonny" Sweeny began his information security career at Indiana University in 2005, where he performed network vulnerability scanning for a year before moving into a role in incident response management. In that role, he and his team responded to 10,000 incidents...

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Jonathan "Jonny" Sweeny began his information security career at Indiana University in 2005, where he performed network vulnerability scanning for a year before moving into a role in incident response management. In that role, he and his team responded to 10,000 incidents annually. In 2013, Jonathan accepted a computer scientist position with the federal government, where he has since performed forensic analysis, reverse engineering malware, log analysis, and network management responsibilities.

Jonny entered the SANS Technology Institute master's program in 2016 to improve his project management and leadership capabilities, advance his specialization in forensics, and gain basic defense and penetration testing skills, among many other goals.

With a combination of advanced technical and leadership skills, Jonny will return to work fully prepared to serve as a member of rapid deployment teams, a mentor to colleagues with similar interests, a contributor to successful investigations around the world, and a valuable asset to his squad. "The experience and knowledge I've gained from the courses will improve my ability to do my job more effectively and to be a leader in my workplace," he says.

Jonny's research during the master's program included a paper on Botnet Resiliency via Private Blockchains (2017).

Jonny credits STI's research projects, and the GIAC GSE certification lab in particular, with elevating his specialized skills and confirming his belief that they will make him a stronger contributor to investigations and to his organization in general. He cites the project management course as having an especially positive effect on his approach to incident handling and, thus, his professional development.

Jonny is grateful to his family for the many sacrifices they made to help him on this journey, whether by providing positive motivation or lots of snacks, depending on the need. Jonny is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Christopher Jarko

Master of Science in Information Security Management

Christopher "Chris" Jarko has over 27 years of experience working for the Department of Defense as an active duty U.S. Air Force officer, defense contractor, and civil servant. He has expertise in intercontinental ballistic missile operations, instruction and curriculum development...

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Christopher "Chris" Jarko has over 27 years of experience working for the Department of Defense as an active duty U.S. Air Force officer, defense contractor, and civil servant. He has expertise in intercontinental ballistic missile operations, instruction and curriculum development, and planning and policy analysis and development in nuclear operations and cybersecurity. He has held numerous leadership positions, including two years as a commanding officer.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona, Chris studied fine arts. During his nearly 20 years in the Air Force he was exposed to information technology, but his career in cybersecurity didn't really begin until he retired and joined the U.S. Strategic Command. Chris had limited experience working in information security when he started the SANS Technology Institute master's program, but says the program allowed him to pursue a significant career change at a time in life when many people are looking for stability.

About eight months after Christopher began his graduate studies, his wife of over 27 years, Lori, began to suffer from failing health. She passed away a year to the day after he started the graduate program. Everyone around him helped in some way, not only in dealing with his loss, but also in moving forward with the program. His friends and coworkers provided the emotional support that he and his son, Andrew, needed in their grief, and the graduate school staff and faculty worked with him to reschedule courses and presentations.

"It has become trite to say 'I couldn't have done it without them,' but in this case it is absolutely true," says Chris.

Chris celebrates this achievement alongside his fiancée, Denise, and his son, Andrew. Since completing the program, Chris has accepted a cyber incident response position with Apogee Engineering in Dayton, Ohio.


Muzamil Riffat

Master of Science in Information Security Management

Muzamil Riffat currently heads the IT Audit Section at the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Throughout most of his graduate studies, Muzamil worked as Senior Audit Manager for the Abu Dhabi Education Council. With a role focused primarily on governance and risk management, Muzamil has been...

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Muzamil Riffat currently heads the IT Audit Section at the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Throughout most of his graduate studies, Muzamil worked as Senior Audit Manager for the Abu Dhabi Education Council.

With a role focused primarily on governance and risk management, Muzamil has been able to apply the knowledge he acquired through SANS Technical Institute to identify related risks and direct efforts to assess and manage them. "I have been instrumental in making all stakeholders recognize that information security is a business proposition and that it transcends the boundaries of IT," he explained.

His understanding of the strategic and operational impact of information security quickly made Muzamil the go-to person for all related projects and initiatives at his organization, and a promotion soon followed. Drawing on the master's course Law of Data Security and Investigations, he challenged the perceived notion that information security staff can only handle technical matters, making significant contributions to a legal discussion over a project involving information security and privacy perspectives.

Muzamil is grateful to Allah for giving him the countless blessings, strength, and courage he has needed to complete his graduate studies, and to his family and parents for enduring his roller coaster of emotions throughout the process. He also believes he would not have been able to obtain his degree without the assistance of the STI graduate school staff. In particular, Muzamil remembers with fondness Diane Sardi, who passed away in 2016. Among her many roles at SANS, Diane served as the registrar for the SANS Technology Institute and was the person who first notified Muzamil that he had been accepted into the program.

Finally, Muzamil thanks his wife, Hina, who happily assumed so many of his responsibilities to let him focus on his studies. Muzamil, Hina, and their children, Hiba and Isra, live in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.


Alyssa Robinson

Master of Science in Information Security Management

Alyssa Robinson holds the title of Manager, Software Development Engineering, at Cisco Systems. Although cybersecurity is not her primary responsibility, she believes what she has learned from SANS has set her apart from others in her field. Alyssa's graduate studies had an almost immediate...

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Alyssa Robinson holds the title of Manager, Software Development Engineering, at Cisco Systems. Although cybersecurity is not her primary responsibility, she believes what she has learned from SANS has set her apart from others in her field.

Alyssa's graduate studies had an almost immediate impact on her work when, about a year into the master's program, she found herself at a company operating under an FTC consent order and starting its first audit within weeks of her start date. The lessons she'd learned from the SANS Technology Institute greatly facilitated her work with the auditors, helping her understand what they needed and ultimately helping the company complete the audit successfully.

During her time as a student in the STI master's program, Alyssa worked in five different positions within three different companies. In each case, she says the security knowledge she gained as a graduate student helped her land the initial position or subsequent promotion.

Alyssa holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During her time in the master's program, Alyssa published several white papers including Continuous Security: Implementing the Critical Controls in a DevOps Environment (2016) and No Safe Harbor: Collecting and Storing European Personal Information in the U.S. (2017).

The past few years have been a challenge for Alyssa as she has worked to balance a full-time job, her graduate studies, parenting two young children, and caring for a sick parent. She says she could not have done it all without the encouragement and support of her husband, Mark, as well as an extensive support network that includes her mother, sisters, friends, managers, and coworkers.

Alyssa, Mark, and their children, Henry and Mimi, live outside of Boston, Massachusetts.


Andre Shori

Master of Science in Information Security Management

Andre Shori is a Cyber and Information Security Manager with over 20 years of IT operations and project management experience. Andre spent the past two years focused almost solely on his graduate studies at the SANS Technology Institute while also consulting. Immediately prior to joining...

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Andre Shori is a Cyber and Information Security Manager with over 20 years of IT operations and project management experience. Andre spent the past two years focused almost solely on his graduate studies at the SANS Technology Institute while also consulting. Immediately prior to joining the master's program, he worked as a program manager for Hewlett Packard, overseeing installations and upgrades of large, high-end digital and web commercial printing presses in Japan and the Asian Pacific.

Andre credits STI with giving him the expertise and confidence he needed to move forward in his career. What he has learned has both prepared and emboldened him to play a part in the creation of an effective national security policy and vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem for his country of Singapore, working alongside senior government officials and academics. As a recognized expert in the field, Andre also sits on the leadership council for a number of cybersecurity professional associations.

When Andre recently found himself presenting to a room full of highly educated and experienced professionals, he says he felt confident because the STI master's program had prepared him for just such a situation. He could see the strategic ramifications of applying the developing technology they were discussing, and was able to deliver real value by sharing the perspective of a practitioner. "The master's program has fundamentally altered my cybersecurity leadership knowledge," explained Andre. "Knowing where to prioritize, why the big picture matters, and what the technology is all about, as well as having the confidence to decide on the strategic application of technology as an enabler for a safe and secure world, is priceless."

Andre is grateful to God, his beloved wife, Poh Jee, daughter, Alyssa, and his extended family. Their support, patience and encouragement have contributed enormously to his achievements.


Edward Yuwono

Master of Science in Information Security Management

Edward Yuwono has seen many personal and professional changes during his time as master's student at the SANS Technology Institute. He now spends his time enhancing security for large organizations in locations around the world. With roots in incident response, Ed's progression...

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Edward Yuwono has seen many personal and professional changes during his time as master's student at the SANS Technology Institute. He now spends his time enhancing security for large organizations in locations around the world.

With roots in incident response, Ed's progression in the field has led him to devising and overseeing information security strategic plans. His decision to join the STI program was twofold: first, to expand his knowledge within information security through a respected, structured program; and second, to consolidate his expertise by way of assessments, presentations, and research papers.

Ed has been involved in the resolutions of several major incidents and has been a key influence in future strategic plans. By applying security leadership acquired through the master's program, he has been able to produce a more robust, holistic, thoughtful approach to information security. This has enabled him to quickly instill trust among his colleagues and help revolutionize information security within various organizations. He has found the leadership aspects of the graduate program especially valuable when engaging with stakeholders on all levels, as he is better able to communicate, influence, and innovate within his organization.

Ed is fortunate to have had a series of mentors throughout his professional journey, and he is thankful to them all. He is also grateful to everyone else who helped him through his master's degree journey, including clients and coworkers who provided him with the time and support he needed to complete his coursework, and the STI graduate school advisors, instructors, and staff who guided him through the program.

Finally, Ed extends his gratitude to his friends for forgiving his lengthy absence between drinks, his extended family around the world for always offering him a home away from home, and his family members who, despite often being separated by distance and time zones, continue to provide endless amounts of moral support.