Lori Brumm’s ambition and success belie an incredibly tumultuous upbringing and teenage years marked by abuse and homelessness. Despite her difficult start in life, Lori is a survivor. She has spent the last 20+ years breaking down barriers and overcoming obstacles to build a better life. That new life includes a wonderful husband, three beautiful children, and a successful decades-long career that she loves.
Lori, a self-professed lifelong learner, has provided top-tier technical support and cyber assurance to a wide-variety of organizations in the healthcare, financial, federal government, state government, DOD, commercial, private, and nonprofit sectors.
Lori is a candidate for a bachelor’s degree in Applied Cybersecurity from the SANS Technology Institute, and she’s on track to graduate in fall 2023. Here, Lori talks to us about her experience as a SANS student and offers first-hand advice and insight to others considering a similar path.
Q. How did you get interested in cybersecurity?
A. Ever since I can remember, l loved computers. In fact, we were the first family in the neighborhood to have a computer. In high school, I was often tapped by my teachers to help set up the computer lab.
In the AOL days, I found it incredibly interesting that someone could IM or mail "bomb" someone to make their account basically unusable. Also, at that time, someone could access their SQL databases for billing from the AOL UI. I loved to share my knowledge of this new “online world” with people in my community, especially older individuals. I wanted them to know how they could protect themselves from online scammers. My interest in cybersecurity began even before there was a formal name for it.
Q. Prior to attending the SANS Technology Institute, what was your educational background?
A. I was awarded an Associate of Computer and Network Systems degree in 2003 from Pittsburgh Technical College, formerly known as Pittsburgh Technical Institute. I also obtained the CompTIA A+ at this time. The following two decades, prior to enrolling in SANS.edu, I earned multiple different industry certifications from VMware, Citrix, CompTIA CASP, as well as the (ISC)2 CISSP and CCSP.
Q. What does your current job entail?
A. I am the Lead Cyber Range Engineer at SimSpace. I design and build high-fidelity virtual environments for clients to test their people, processes, and tools through simulated live-engagement events. These events are designed to ensure employees are prepared to assess and act on actual threats.
Q. What do you like most about cybersecurity?
A. I love the fact that cybersecurity is such a large and ever-changing field. One could study cybersecurity their entire life and never run out of new things to learn.
Q. How did you hear about SANS Technology Institute?
A. I went online looking for different technology programs that would help me achieve my academic goals. SANS provided me with a virtual platform that worked for me and offered unparalleled curriculum and instructors.
Q. Why did you choose to enroll in SANS Technology Institute?
A. SANS.edu is well recognized and well respected throughout the industry. I knew a degree from SANS would give me a strong competitive advantage in the job market. I also knew that SANS would provide me with the most up-to-date curriculum and the flexibility I needed to succeed. And finally, I wanted to enroll in an accredited program.
Q. How did you pay for SANS.edu?
A. I paid for the tuition myself. I have no doubt that it was a worthwhile investment. I expect to make up the costs as my career evolves thanks to my SANS education.
Q. From your research how did the SANS program differ from other programs of its kind?
A. SANS has the most up-to-date curriculum that is refreshed regularly as the industry evolves. And the content is delivered by industry experts.
Q. What did you find most valuable about the SANs.edu program?
A. I found the material, instructors, and industry certifications to be incredibly valuable for exposure to a myriad of technical concepts, both with practical labs and case studies. These concepts are imperative to continuing to build and codify foundational knowledge, even updating my knowledge. However, I would also like to express my gratitude to my student advisor Hannah Setters. She was an amazing listener and really helped me navigate my way through the program every step of the way.
Q. Can you tell me about your experience participating in the bachelor’s program internship as an Apprentice Incident Handler with the Internet Storm Center?
A. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Dr. Johannes Ullrich, the Internet Storm Center director. Making a connection with Dr. Ullrich has been one of the most valuable parts of the internship. He offered some terrific insights. He kept me focused and advised me to not try to “boil the ocean” but just figure out where we need to be and why and go from there. If it works then great, if not move just on. I continue to remind myself of that advice every day.
I also found that digging into the various potential incidents captured on the honeypots fascinating. Having built honeypots for customers, it was interesting to investigate the logs personally. Hunting down new and emerging threats, as well as confirming that old exploits are still very much in use, is extremely helpful when illustrating the continuous need for companies to focus on vulnerabilities.
Q. Did you take classes online or at live events?
A. I took all my classes online. I really liked that format. I’m a mom of three. I needed to have that flexibility.
Q. How has your SANS.edu degree impacted your career trajectory?
A. My SANS degree is part of my three-year goal to transition into a higher-level leadership position. I believe that demonstrating my commitment to ongoing learning and academic success will help bolster my career. I can give you a better answer to this question in about three years.
Q. What advice would you offer someone considering applying to the SANS Technology Institute?
A. If you have work or family issues that are dynamic or unpredictable, make sure you have the support of family, friends, and colleagues. Try to establish and build in more of a support structure prior to starting a class. Be open with your boss and team so that they are aware you might not be as readily accessible as you are in between classes.
Q. What’s next for you?
A. After I graduate in fall 2023, I would like to continue with my education. There are so many areas of cybersecurity that fascinate me. I’d like to learn them all. I am particularly interested in quantum computing and encryption as well as the impact of AI on elevating threats and tactics.
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