Certified in Cybersecurity: A Q&A With Christopher Prewitt

Posted by Fuel HQ on May 28, 2020 11:45:00 AM

Friday, May 22, 2020

From Fuel Headquarters

omr-3723130_1920Christopher Prewitt is a Fuel User Group member based out of the Cleveland area. Earlier this year, he participated in virtual study group sessions for the Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE) certification and recently passed the exam. We spoke with Prewitt about his start in cybersecurity, what drove him to get PCNSE certified and tips for others looking to obtain the designation.

How did you got started in the cybersecurity industry? What makes the industry so interesting to you?

I have been in security for about 18 years and got into it by way of infrastructure. Security is always changing, always interesting. It’s often a difficult path, having to prove the value of security to business people, having to defend that “it’s not the firewall” to every part of IT. It’s very challenging — there’s always something new to learn, a new puzzle to solve. I equate it to being a police officer. They drive around a lot and do a lot of paperwork, and it’s not often they get in a car chase or pull their weapon. It’s fun but it’s not always exciting.

What made you want to get PCNSE certified? Did your employer encourage you?

This might be an interesting answer. I’ve been in IT for 23 years and I’ve had dozens of certifications but hadn’t really had one in about 10 years. I’ve held and maintained the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certifications for that time, but let all the others expire. I have been in security management for 15 years now and hadn’t seen a need to chase certifications.

With the pandemic, I found myself with some extra time while I wasn’t commuting. Our local Palo Alto Networks SE [system engineer], Ben Parker, announced that he was going to hold classes for the PCNSE. I’ve been using Palo Alto Networks firewalls for six or seven years now and thought why not. A little plug — and Ben has heard me say this before — he is the best SE I have ever worked with, from any OEM [original equipment manufacturer]. Knowledgeable, gifted, hard-working, available, and supports his clients, former clients and anyone who needs assistance.

Do you hold any other industry certifications? If so, what certifications?

I hold a CISSP, CISM, PCNSE and also recently picked up Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and EC-Council Certified Incident Handler (ECIH) certifications since the start of the lockdown.

Did you get your Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Administrator (PCNSA) first or did you go straight to obtaining a PCNSE and why?

Straight to the PCNSE. I think I had the experience and knowledge for it. I needed to brush up on a couple of things and learn about some newer technologies I hadn’t worked with yet.

Are you planning to share this achievement with your employer?

Yes I will. I work for an IT security service provider, but this more of a personal goal of mine.

How did you prepare for the exam? Do you have any tips for someone who is considering taking or preparing to take the exam?

Ben was very helpful, along with my classmates. Ben provided the certification training guide, which is free and available on the Palo Alto Networks website. His class went through the training guide, and in the background I also took the Palo Alto Networks EDU-110 and EDU-120 classes, which are free to take online. The EDU-114 class is amazing, and anyone looking to improve their threat defense and detection should take it, regardless of skill or experience. We live in an amazing time where there is so much free training and material available to us.


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