Industry Trends

Exploring Cyber Career Pathways: Combating Threats as a Research Strategist

By Fortinet | October 21, 2022

The threat landscape is continuing to evolve and become more sophisticated. To stay ahead of threats, organizations need to combine the right security solutions with a skilled workforce. There is an array of cybersecurity roles and various career pathways that can lead professionals into these roles. The week of October 17 is Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week, which reminds us of the various roles within this dynamic field.

One area that is critical to protecting an organization is threat intelligence and research. Recently, Arturo Torres and Jonas Walker from Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs team shared how they each discovered their passion for cybersecurity, how they’ve had the opportunity to hold various cyber roles within Fortinet, and what their career trajectory has been like.

What inspired you to pursue a career in cybersecurity? In other words, how did you end up in a cybersecurity role?

Arturo E. Torres (AT): My father has been a significant influence on me. He is a telecommunications engineer as well as the deputy director of an important engineering company in my country. My parents made a great effort to give us an education that included computers from an early age. I remember my dad telling me that learning technology and networking would be key in the future, so by the end of my degree, I had already obtained two important certifications, which include CCNA & ITIL. When I finished my degree in telecommunications engineering, my first job offer was as a cybersecurity engineer at a company where I had the opportunity to work with Fortinet technology. At the time, I didn’t have experience or knowledge on the topic of cybersecurity, other than a basic understanding of networks. However, my employer told me that if I already had the basics of networking and IT processes, the path would be much easier to upskill in cyber. So, I set myself a goal to expand my skill sets and knowledge, which led me on a career path where I eventually ended up working at Fortinet.”

Jonas Walker (JW): Since I was a child, I have been fascinated with technology. It started when I received my first game boy color at the age of 6 and my first computer when I was 10 – a few weeks after watching the first part of the Matrix Trilogy. Hacking was always something that fascinated me in movies and so it became very natural for me to spend many of my teenage years in front of the computer figuring out what I could do with it. Back then, the Internet was still pretty new to most people, and it was at the last stage of Web1 before it became what we know as the internet of today: Web2. 

What did you study at school? What is your academic background?

AT: My parents are teachers, so in my home education was always a priority and I’ve focused on continued education to this day. On the academic side, I am a telecommunications engineer. I have a master's degree in administration and industrial relations, and I just finished a Ph.D. in information technology with a specialization in artificial intelligence from the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon. In addition, I had the opportunity to teach cybersecurity classes at the master's level where I attended college.

When it comes to advancing my skills in the field of cybersecurity, I chose to obtain certifications that guarantee the knowledge to help me in my career path. These certifications include:

  • CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional
  • CTIA - Cyber ​​Threat Intelligence Analyst
  • CEH - Certified Ethical Hacker
  • CSA - Certified Security Analyst
  • eNDP - Network Defense Professional
  • Fortinet NSE Level 7 - Advanced Threat Protection
  • ITIL - Information Technology Infrastructure Library

JW: At 16 I did a four-year apprenticeship at the biggest ISP in Switzerland. Afterward, I studied computer science and business economics while working for two years as an Intern at a worldwide leader in IT and networking. I hold a Bachelor's degree and a CISSP and OSCP certification. While this all helps me and others who have followed a similar career pathway be successful in the cybersecurity industry, a huge aspect of being successful in this field is motivation, discipline, and hard work.

What is your current role at Fortinet?

AT: Currently, I work as a threat intelligence strategist at Fortinet's research arm, FortiGuard Labs focused on the Latin America and the Caribbean regions. We combine data science with security strategy and provide tactics to support security portfolio planning. I specialize in industry threat expertise with deep knowledge of threat intelligence, threat informed defense, NGSOC, data science, cybercrime, and advanced malware concepts. I also advise and engage clients and executive leaders on solution strategies in various industry segments.

“Prior to this position, I worked for five years in Fortinet's Mexico sales organization as a Systems Engineer. Fortunately, Fortinet supported my career path and encouraged me to take on new challenges in a different business unit.” –Arturo E. Torres

JW: I also work at FortiGuard Labs. In my role, we combine data science with security strategy and facilitate tactics to support security portfolio planning. I specialize in industry threat expertise with in-depth knowledge in threat intelligence, exploits, penetration testing, machine learning, and advanced malware concepts. I also work closely with FortiGuard Labs and Fortinet System Engineering to respond to advanced threats as they break, and proactively plan to stay ahead of the curve.

“Before working in this role, I worked for four years in Fortinet's Swiss Sales organization as a Systems Engineer. Fortunately, Fortinet supported my ambition to move to Asia and tackle new challenges in a different business unit.” –Jonas Walker