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12 November, 2018
by Nicole Nelson
Content Marketing Manager
Lee McWhorter is an expert Cyber Security instructor at Woz U! Learn about his various accomplishments, Woz U's cyber security program, and why we need more cyber security specialists in the workforce!

2017 was a record year for cyber-crime and the U.S. alone saw Cyber Security incidents double. Billions of users were affected by the oversight of large scale attacks and companies experienced firsthand that cyber-attacks are a real threat, waking up to the reality that they will have to actively defend themselves for the foreseeable future. This is why experienced instructors like Lee McWhorter have taken up the task of teaching the next generation how to defend and counteract the ever evolving tactics of cyber-attacks. 

Lee’s journey into Cyber Security began in the 1980’s when he got his very first computer, a Commodore VIC-20, and began to teach himself how to program in BASIC.

“Watching the logs fascinated me…”

Through the years he learned how to hack through dial-up internet, giving him his first glimpse into cyber-security. His curiosity eventually found its way into more complex programs including HTML & Linux (this was before their official 1.0 release). Linux soon became the program that fed Lee’s fascination into the world of Cyber Security.

Today, Lee has more than 12 certifications, ranging from Unix Instructor to Network Vulnerability and Security Analytics.  When asked what drove him to continue seeking his certifications he said;

Gotta collect ‘em all!  (Yes, that is a play on Pokemon’s “Gotta catch ‘em all” haha)”   

 

As of September 2018, Lee is among the first 400 people in the world to attain a PenTest+ certification. He has also recently been asked by CompTIA to teach a world-wide Train the Trainer series on penetration testing and vulnerability management.

Keeping with his passion for life-long learning, Lee attends as many tech conferences as he can fit in his schedule! This passion recently led him to SpiceWorld 2018, where he shared the stage with CompTIA instructors to speak about various cyber monitoring tools. The audience got to engage with Lee’s custom-built virtual network, taking their education a step further through interactivity.

As a professor, Lee has spent time at Tulane University, Midwestern State University, ITT, New Horizons, CompTIA, and now of course Woz U.

Outside of Cyber Security, Lee spends his time doing charity work with the Big Brothers Big Sisters foundation, where he has proudly helped inspire children since 2011. Lee also serves on the board for Amen for Animals, a Texas based non-profit who work to advance animal rescue operations throughout the US using technology. Lee is also a big reader on history, economics, and all things technology. He also claims the title of a “decent chess player”, so if you ever come across Lee, be sure to challenge him!

Q & A

Check out what Lee has to say about the Cyber Security industry and our Cyber Security program

  1. What do you think about the current environment of the Cyber Security field and how do you see it evolving in the near future?
    “The Cyber Security field is rapidly growing and already facing a huge skills gap. There are an estimated 1.5 million unfilled Cyber Security jobs currently, with that expected to grow to around 2 million by 2025. The demand for Cyber Security professionals is seemingly endless, but this is somewhat unsurprising given the constantly growing number of attackers and attack vectors.”
  2. How does a career in Cyber Security differ from other technology fields and why should people move their interest to this field?
    “The skills and knowledge needed to be successful in Cyber Security are generally much broader than in other technology fields.  A tech support professional needs to know how to support basic applications, systems and networks.  A programmer needs to know how to program (usually in a few languages) and at least some about the systems on which their programs will be used.  A data scientist needs to know about statistics, analysis and programming to get the results they want. In Cyber Security, we need to know a little about all of this and more as we have to defend everything across the enterprise.”
  3. Are there any myths about the cyber field that people tend to believe that aren’t true?
    “Most people believe what they see in TV shows and movies – such as a dark hooded hacker sitting in a basement somewhere hacking directly into their PC.  While this is technically possible and does happen from time to time, the reality is often not a battle between individuals, but between the systems they control. Black Hat Hackers today might have hundreds of thousands of PCs under their control and much of the attacks are automatedAnother common myth is that the term hacker is always bad.  It started out as a good term, and then took on bad connotations as breaches and attacks started to make news.  Today, it is really neutral and we have divided the sides by color (think old cowboy movies) with the bad guys being Black Hat Hackers and the good guys being White Hat Hackers.”
  4. How has the field changed since you entered it?
    “10 years ago, no one could have hacked into an organization using a microwave or fridge, but today that is a reality…”
    “It has simply exploded! When I first began, the number of servers on the Internet was measured in 1000’s and the number of users world-wide in the low millions, tops.  Today there are over 75 million servers on the Internet and the number of users is measured in billions (a bit over half the world population or 3.2 billion people as of 2015).  And that’s just people and servers. Now anything can be on the Internet and with the Internet of Things (IoT), even more things will be connected in the coming years. 10 years ago, no one could have hacked into an organization using a microwave or fridge, but today that is a reality.  We also now live in a world with physical damage can technically be caused by cyber-attacks. I fear for the day when a large plant or factory is destroyed by such an attack, as it has come close to happening already…”
  5. What can students expect to learn from your course at Woz U?
    “Students can expect to learn all about Cyber Security from both the red team (attack side) and blue team (defense side) perspective.  There is a heavy emphasis on Linux given its importance in Cyber Security tools and the Cloud.  The program is well rounded and covers a wide range of topics including project management. While it goes well beyond this, it is also aligned with the CompTIA Security+ certification exam and student will be prepared for this exam after completion of the program.”
  6. Are there specific areas of emphasis that you find benefit students the most?
    “There are two areas I think benefit students the most. First, while students will be prepped to take tests after completion, this is a full program on Cyber Security that covers all important aspects of the field and exposes students to a wide range of topics and tools. Second, there is a heavy emphasis on hands on learning.  Students are provided numerous virtual networks and computers to use to complete assignments and further practice and learn the topics, tools, and techniques covered.
    Furthermore, graduates get to keep all of these tools for future use and are given access to updated curriculum for free, for life as part of our Woz for Life program.”
  7. Can you speak to the importance of having a skilled workforce in cyber security and the tech talent demand gap at all?
    “Every organization can and needs to improve its Cyber Security position. It seems not a day goes by without reports of another breach or hack.  There is strong demand for professionals in this field with a seemingly unlimited future of possibilities.  See #1 in Cyber Security above as well…”
  8. Is there anything about your style of teaching that you want to highlight?

    “I am committed to each of my student’s success.  I try to personalize things as much as possible for each student and our program presents the information in multiple ways to support different learning styles.”

 

 

Lee McWhorter

Cyber Security Instructor at Woz U
Twitter: @tleemcjr

 

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Nicole Nelson

Nicole is Woz U’s social media and content manager who loves to build communities and break though barriers to find common ground. After graduating college, Nicole joined Woz U as an intern and quickly rose up in the ranks to become the voice of the brand on social. When she’s not documenting Woz U’s Demo Day, you can find her cheering on her local soccer team or getting her ‘zen' on practicing yoga.

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