Fuel User Group: Many Aspects of IT

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Charles Buege has written many how-to articles, has an in-home lab, and runs an IT meetup in Naperville, IL.Charles Buege has written many how-to articles, has an in-home lab, and runs an IT meetup in Naperville, IL.Charles Buege has been part of the IT industry for over 25 years. He has a passion for his work, and where some might see an insurmountable problem, he sees another challenge to chip away at. Charles has an at-home lab setup, which has allowed him to author several popular “how to” articles for the Fuel blog


Charles also runs an IT-based Meetup group in Naperville, Ill., called The IT Crowd. They meet monthly to discuss different technologies centering primarily around DevOps – Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewalls, security, virtualization, Linux, and programming languages. 


We spoke with him to learn more about his career path, why he joined Fuel, advice for young professionals, and more.


What sparked your interest in joining the IT industry and specializing in cybersecurity? Why are you passionate about your work?

I've been in the IT industry for over 25 years and have been involved in cybersecurity for about two weeks less than that. To truly be in the IT profession is to realize that there are several aspects of the job that everyone needs to be aware of at all times and, not the least of these, is being aware of cybersecurity. My first foray into cybersecurity was early on, realizing people shared passwords and we needed to control who accessed what. 


But, why did I choose to specialize in cybersecurity? To be perfectly honest, I didn't. I'm a very well-rounded IT professional that enjoys many aspects of IT, including virtualization, networking, cloud services, and more, in addition to cybersecurity. To be the most efficient person I can for my company I need to be adaptable and be willing to learn many areas. 

As for why am I passionate about my work? That one is easy—it’s fun. 


To me, working with technology even when (and sometimes especially when) it causes me to want to pull my hair out, I just see it as another challenge. I don't stop until I figure out what my problem is, understand how to fix it, and then document the heck out of my solution just because I figured it out now doesn't guarantee I'll remember it a year or two from now. 


How long have you been part of Fuel and what interested you in joining?

I joined Fuel about three years ago, about six months after getting my first pair of PA-3020s at my former job. Very quickly I realized that my needs, those of a small to medium company (around 500 users), wouldn't get as much “press” as those of larger companies with more resources to get information out faster. It wasn't a matter of not finding the information – it was a matter of having a hard time finding the “war stories from the front” of other network engineers, security professionals, and system architects from smaller companies like mine. 


After being involved with a couple other user groups (Linux, VMware, etc.) and when I found out about Fuel, I figured smaller meetings and networking with those others would get me the meat and potatoes of the war stories I craved. I quickly found out, to my pleasant surprise, that my joining Fuel got me WAY more than just the “war stories” I was looking for. 


How have you seen the industry change in the last five years, and what (in your opinion) are some trends on the horizon?

Going back five years to talk about the changes I've seen would turn this Q&A into a novel. Heck, I've seen changes in the last five months that still astonish me. 


There have been more new attack vectors being used by attackers than ever before, that we'd never have predicted five years ago. However, there have also been a number of additional advances in technology that make protecting your systems easier and more efficient than ever before. The ability to protect your network in the east-west direction, in addition to north-south, has been fantastic, especially when it comes to zero-day attacks. 


One of the newer technologies that is just now being embraced by more companies is the ability to do microsegmentation at a server level. With the availability of Palo Alto Networks firewalls as virtual appliances and the versatility of Panorama, implementing microsegmentation in conjunction with the power of PAN-OS is yet another layer of protection that is powerful, versatile, and at the same time, rather easy to maintain. 


What is your advice for young professionals considering a career in this field?

Try as many aspects of the IT industry as possible. I started out as a network administrator and my position evolved constantly, allowing me to keep trying all sorts of new things. If there is something that sounds interesting to you, whether it’s new or old technology, play with it. I have lost count the number of times I found out about a new piece of technology, checked it out, and then found a use for it months or even years later. I know that this will sound trite and cliché, but in the end, it all comes down to one simple statement: Don't stop learning. Those who do stop learning will be left behind. 


What is your advice for Fuel members looking to make the most of their membership?

One of the best things about Fuel is that it is constantly evolving, and new items and resources are being added rather frequently. With that, as you are looking through the different resources, try out some capabilities that may not necessarily apply to you. As I mentioned previously, you never know when it will come in handy later. For example, once you learn how to customize your severity level of your anti-spyware, three months later, you may find that was exactly what was needed to make your director of IT happy. 


One of my biggest takeaways from Fuel are the events—whether it’s networking with other people, talking to vendors (finding out about products I didn't even know to ask about their existence of), or just attending different sessions. Those events are some of my favorite to attend because I always seem to walk away with another dozen or two tips and tricks that will make my life easier.


Interested in becoming a Fuel member like Charles? Learn about the benefits of a free membership.



‘Try as Many Aspects of IT as Possible’: A Q&A with Fuel User Group Volunteer Charles Buege

This post originally appeared on the Fuel For Thought Blog


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