With millions worldwide working remotely from home, and meetings and events going virtual, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented companies with new challenges in maintaining their security. Cybersecurity experts, like Paul Archer, are more important than ever to help businesses adjust to the new normal while protecting vital data and information.
Paul’s journey to the world of cybersecurity began while still a member of the Armed Forces, receiving training on Systems Information. His focus was never originally centered on cybersecurity, but more so on understanding how information systems worked from the inside out; “I figured the more I understood how something worked, the better I would be at providing solutions for it.”
“Leaving the military, my focus was not at all on Cybersecurity. With an insatiable quest for knowledge, I had just set out to try and soak up everything I could.”
Leaving the Armed Forces as a Corporal of 9 years, Paul used the training he picked up during his time serving to become an IT/Security Trainer at a local trade school, teaching MCSE. MCSE is the certification to become a system engineer that tests one’s knowledge of various Microsoft technologies. “Leaving the military, my focus was not at all on cybersecurity. With an insatiable quest for knowledge, I had just set out to try and soak up everything I could.” Gradually, Paul’s focus began to shift by taking on subsequent roles that fell more in line with security. These roles include Senior Security Consultant, Systems and Information Administrator, and Software and Cybersecurity Manager.
In 2019, Paul underwent the CISSP exam, a certification that proves one has what it takes to effectively design, implement, and manage a best-in-class cybersecurity program. As a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Paul joined Kognitiv Spark as Director of Security.
Based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Kognitiv Spark is a global leader for industrial task support software. Partnered with leading hardware providers, they use augmented and mixed reality to deliver holographic worker support with interactive 3D content, artificial intelligence, and live IoT (Internet of Things) data. As Director of Security, Paul has to ensure compliance and provide the roadmap for the adoption of various cybersecurity frameworks. Cybersecurity frameworks consist of a series of documents that define an organization’s best practices to manage cybersecurity risks and reduce exposure to vulnerabilities.
A well-known framework Paul utilizes is the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), the certification and compliance process developed by the Department of Defence. It is designed to certify that contractors have the controls in place to protect sensitive data.
Cybersecurity is a continuously changing field, with new technology threats developing all the time. Thankfully, Paul flourishes under the pressure that the threats pose, “I thrive on high-stress situations and finding ways to overcome them. My current role provides these opportunities in abundance day-to-day.” Even more challenging has been introducing security culture to those who don’t think it plays as major of a role in the work they do.
Overcoming challenges and imparting the knowledge he’s gained along the way has been one of the most rewarding components to Paul’s job and has given him a great sense of pride; “When you can see the shift in the culture at an organization, as they shift towards a security-first posture, it is the most rewarding thing.”
“Don't stop - find a mentor to take you under their wing and learn everything you can from them.”
The “insatiable quest for knowledge” Paul described as having is what helped (and continues to help), his transition from role to role and is something that he implores the importance of to anyone considering a career in cybersecurity or information systems; “Don't stop - find a mentor to take you under their wing and learn everything you can from them.”
If there’s anything to learn from Paul, it's that there is never a bad time to make career changes; the sky is the limit. 25 years ago, Paul could have never envisioned himself working anywhere but with the army, a job he truly loved. Flash forward to now, and Paul is still doing what he loves, it just isn’t with armoured fighting vehicles anymore.
AEROSPACE & DEFENCE: OUR STORY, YOUR FUTURE