Cyber-security is among today's most critical national security issues. Fortunately for the United States, cyber-security is precisely where the passion and talents of IWP alumnus Robert Jones* rest. His accomplishments at the Department of Defense have led to official recognition by the Department for his "patriotic attitude and eagerness to ensure that his abilities are fully leveraged for the greatest possible good of the nation."
Robert majored in computer science, with a focus in cyber-security, at Georgia Institute of Technology. His scholarship there involved a commitment to working for the government, and he had the opportunity to go straight to work at DoD upon graduation.
Deciding that in his graduate studies he wanted to expand beyond his background in technology, Robert found IWP and was impressed both by Dr. John Lenczowski's vision for the school and by the fact that IWP professors possess both professional and academic experience.
During his time at IWP, Robert continued work in the field of cyber-security. From 2006 to 2008, he was a cyber-threat analyst with the Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations; since then, he has served as the Director of Security Operations for the Secretary of Defense Communications Office. His job involves protecting the Secretary's networks from intrusion by hackers and other intruders, and protecting DoD facilities and personnel.
In a DoD Department-level cyber security award nomination, Robert was recognized for an incident involving forward-deployed computer systems that were directly supporting the Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense. While he was investigating this incident, Robert discovered a previously unidentified cyber-threat methodology that had the potential to do grave damage to national security. Robert's discovery led to the application of national-level resources to counter this new threat methodology, and helped mitigate vulnerability in our national cyber infrastructure. The CIA used Robert's information to brief the President and other national-level decision makers.
The advisors of the Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Secretary of Defense regularly contact Robert for his expert opinion, and his counsel has helped leaders make informed decisions about the security of the Pentagon's computer networks and Department-wide cyber issues. Robert also collaborates extensively with the cyber-security offices of other government agencies, sharing tactics, techniques, procedures, and other useful situational awareness and lessons learned to support the defense of networks outside of his own area of responsibility.
Robert not only excels at his work; he excelled in his work at IWP. His professors found that he was quiet and "really, really smart." He graduated from IWP with high honors in June 2010. Robert remarked that, "Having an intelligence degree has given me more perspective on the threats that are out there and the mindset of our adversaries." One of his classmates at IWP says, "Robert makes you proud to be an IWP student. There are many intelligent and patriotic people here, but he sets the bar."
When asked for advice for students in IWP's intelligence program, Robert said, "Be persistent in networking and making connections in the office you are applying to work for. It's a pain to get into government, but it's worthwhile if you can do it."
*The name of this alumnus has been changed for security purposes.