Starting a Career in Cybersecurity? Read this new hire's story!

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Adnan Kharuf, an engineer in the Traps team here at Palo Alto Networks, shared some details about how he got his career started in cybersecurity right out of college.


Hi Adnan, you started out as an intern at Palo Alto Networks. What made you want to work here?

Before really understanding the core technology and products of Palo Alto Networks, I was intrigued to discover that Palo Alto Networks was selected as one of the top 10 “Best Place to Work” in the Bay Area. After doing a little more research, I was also enlightened to discover that Palo Alto Networks enterprise security platform as the “Best Solution” to failures of traditional firewalls. Palo Alto Networks is one of the fastest-growing companies in the security industry and that is more than enough motivation that I needed to decide to work here.


What did you study in school? Which technical classes did you take? What did you have to learn that wasn’t covered in school?

Studying Computer Engineering in school, I gained extensive knowledge of hardware and software design and programming to make computers and applications more efficient. In hardware design, my skills were focused on computer systems and components, designing microprocessors, circuit boards, and other embedded devices. In software design, I focused on coding, testing, and debugging programs and applications. Throughout my college career only one networking course was required for graduation, so most of my networking skills were expanded after joining Palo Alto Networks.


How did you learn the basics of networking? What kind of projects did you work on as an intern?

As a Professional Services Engineer intern, I worked with other engineers to analyze existing configurations to migrate policies, rules, objects, and firewall settings. I became skilled with migrating a broad range of firewalls such as; Cisco, Juniper and Checkpoint. I also installed and configured Palo Alto Networks firewalls in the lab.


You now work on Traps. What is most exciting about your job? What is most challenging about the job?

I face numerous different types of challenges working with Palo Alto Networks’ new Advanced Endpoint Protection product Traps. Since it is a new product, I deal with new issues and bugs that have never been encountered before. Problem solving is a big key since documentation and troubleshooting methods have not yet been developed. I have to troubleshoot, test, replicate root cause analysis for technical issues without any guidance. Issues that can range from crashes & compatibility, database, deployment, configuration, connectivity & network, and bugs. The challenge to solving a problem on your own is where the excitement and reward comes into play.


Any advice to students and recent college grads looking to get a career in network security going?

Some advice I would give students and recent college grads would be to keep up and be familiar with today’s technology, whether its security or networking products. Continuous education is vital for our careers, by better understanding current technologies and trends it can help us stay more secure at our current employers and help us find better jobs. Also, take some time to study and obtain a CCNA Security certification or any other networking/security certifications. Another good way to be on top of things is to build your own security lab environment at home, to put into practice what you have learned.

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