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Hi guys! This is Jael Whitney, volunteer for Kids in Tech. For Cybersecurity Awareness Month and #MassSTEMWeek, I’m going to be talking to professionals all across the cybersecurity industry about the future of STEM. Today, I’m interviewing Brian Bartholomew, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky.

Credit: Brain Bartholome

Hi Brian! Can you tell us a bit about your background in Cybersecurity?

I got my start as a tier 1 analyst in a monitoring center working night shifts in 2000. From there, I joined the State Department in 2001 working for the Computer Emergency Response Team focused on defensive roles and investigations. I soon became interested in the offensive side of things and subsequently joined the Red Team performing penetration tests on various systems within the government. In 2009, I moved to the Middle East on a different government contract. In 2012, I moved back to the US where I began working with iSight Partners to help produce cyber threat intelligence products for various private customers. Finally in 2015, I joined Kaspersky where I’ve been with the Global Research and Analysis Team ever since.

How long have you been involved in Cybersecurity? What do you enjoy about it?

It’s been about 20 years since I got my start in the industry, and not a day goes by where I don’t say to myself “How did I even get here”. I think what’s most exciting for me is this field has so many opportunities and different skill sets for people to branch out into. I’ve always had the opinion that when the day comes that your job gets boring, it’s time to pick up the books and learn a new skill set. This industry provides us with so many choices to pick from there’s no reason to ever have a boring job.

Awesome! The theme for this year’s Massachusetts STEM Week is “See Yourself in STEM,” with a particular focus on the power of mentoring. How can we help more young people see themselves in STEM?

I have two younger children and I am always trying to show them that STEM is present in every aspect of their lives. For me, the coolest thing is being able to take something they may overlook, and explain the “why or how” something works. We do science experiments at home, I show them that math is VERY important in everything they do, and I point out the little pieces of technology they take for granted and how much effort went into making that gadget a reality. I think I’m most happy when I’m able to take something that may seem complex to them, and explain it in a simple way they understand. Seeing them when the “Aha!” moment happens is what it’s all about.

Anything else you’d like to share?

When I was first starting out, there weren’t any college degrees for what I wanted to pursue or certifications to learn the skills. I relied heavily on people mentoring and teaching me through hands on experience, as well as keeping myself motivated to learn. Today’s situation is a little different in that there’s a lot of classes one can take to gain the proper skills, but there’s no replacement for learning by doing. Mentoring is still a very important responsibility for those of us who have been in the field for some time and everyone should try to have a positive impact on a younger person’s career. In the same breath, self-learning in my opinion is still the best way to really understand something. There’s something about teaching yourself how to solve problems that just makes it stick more down the road.