Do you know about our Cyber Elite program? The program is a way to recognize experts in LIVEcommunity from around the globe who are outstanding community members who represent LIVEcommunity's key values. We chatted with LIVEcommunity Cyber Elite expert, Aleksandar Astardzhiev (@Astardzhiev), to talk about the cybersecurity industry, how he got involved in LIVEcommunity, his advice to new members, and more.
Aleksandar started his career as a network engineer before moving into the network-security arena; he worked as Senior Support Engineer and later as Project Implementation Engineer for different Managed Service Providers, and was mainly responsible for data center and perimeter firewalls. In his current role at Sunwell Solutions LTD (a PAN partner), he provides security consulting and managed security services working with Palo Alto Networks NGFW and EDR. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and cycling in the city or mountainside near his home.
Read our Q&A with Aleksandar below.
What was your first experience with Palo Alto Networks products?
I will never forget my first experience with PAN firewalls, as I had to deploy two virtual firewall clusters from scratch without any previous experience. The setup was quite complicated, involving dynamic routing, VPN redundancy, remote access VPN, application base filtering and others. Early during my research, I realized how intuitive and easy it is to setup (for new comer). With lots of previous experience with other major firewall vendors, I fell in love with PAN firewall and its capabilities, how straightforward it is, even for a complicated setup. The more I worked with Palo Alto firewalls, the more I became addicted to it.
What motivated you to start engaging in LIVEcommunity?
Probably like many others, I first visited LIVEcommunity in search of help and answers that I was not able to find in documentations or needed clarification on. Most of the time, someone has already asked the same question as me, and I was able to use the great answers provided by the community members.
What keeps you coming back to the community?
At first I was only visiting when I was searching for something specific, but after time I realized that it was great place to expand my knowledge by reading others' questions on setups or features that I haven’t used before. There are many times that I faced a problem or struggle and remembered that someone else wrote about it in LIVEcommunity, which helped me to overcome the problem quicker. When I became little more confident with my PAN experience, I decided that I can give back something to the community by trying to help others. I try to share what I have learned in hopes of helping other members.
"I decided that I can give back something to the community by trying to help others."
What is your message to newcomers in LIVEcommunity?
Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
And don’t forget to use the search function. There is a ton of great information already posted in the community, but finding it may take a little digging. Even you don’t find what you looking for, you can always rely on the great members of LIVEcommunity to help you. Be as specific as possible and provide as much information as you can (without exposing sensitive information), so that others can better understand your struggle. This will also help others with similar symptoms find your post and provided replies.
What advice would you give to someone who is just getting started with Palo Alto Networks products?
The first two most important steps are:
Register to Beacon Learning Platform and take advantage of the great materials to get started with any Palo Alto Networks product.
Register to LIVEcommunity and search for anything that you need for better understanding of Palo Alto Networks products and post your questions, etc.
What is your advice to others looking to move to the next level in cybersecurity knowledge?
Be patient: Understanding cybersecurity requires a huge amount of knowledge in many fields in IT. It takes lots of time, lots of practice, and lots of commitment. The best way to fully understand something is when you try to explain it to someone else. Use that by sharing what you have learned with others, this will help you and definitely help others.
What aspect of working in cybersecurity do you find most interesting or exciting?
I am most interested in the dynamics of the cybersecurity field. Sometimes it may be overwhelming, but it will push you to keep learning and expanding your knowledge. Every case, problem or situation is like a puzzle for me—it will make you sweat and work hard, but the pleasure of solving the puzzle is amazing and addictive.
What’s the number one thing individuals aren’t doing but should to secure their virtual worlds?
Be more careful what information your are sharing publicly. Stop and think for a moment and don’t trust blindly everything you read online or receive via email.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
As a father of three with a full-time job, there is not much free time for me. But when I am not with my family, I love biking. I have a mountain bike and route bike and love going for short rides. I am a passionate skier and cannot wait for winter to come and ride the slopes.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Aleksandar. You can always reach out to him in the community by tagging him in a post with his username @Astardzhiev or post a comment in the section below.