reviewing my 2020 learning and career goals

The 2020 year was not one of the best years for a variety of reasons. My personal productivity was definitely a little lower than past years, but overall satisfying enough considering what a weird and crazy year this was for everyone. Here’s what I did or did not get accomplished.

Last year I started a cloud-focused learning journey by earning my AWS Cloud Practitioner and AWS Solutions Architect Associate certifications. I completed this push by earning my AWS Security Specialty certification in May. This was an interesting experience as I tested from home as COVID-19 restrictions changed how we work and live. This was an interesting journey as I feel like my certification is slightly ahead of my practical hands-on experience within AWS. But, we have to start and proceed somewhere!

That certification would prove to be the only one I would earn on the year. I opted not to pursue another “remote” certification, plus there appeared to be no interest in having a training budget at work any longer, which meant no SANS course for this year nor any real reason to give ISC2 more money.

In the later half of the year I did take a 16 hour course hosted by Wild West Hackin’ Fest: Breaching the Cloud led by Beau Bullock of BHIS. This was an excellent course over 4 days and my only regret was not taking full days off for these. Half days kept me pretty busy! This course flowed nicely into my recent forays into bolstering my cloud experience, particularly with Azure. And the focus on the offense side gave me a different perspective than my previous defense/builder studies. I would love to go through this material again for further reinforcement and practice in 2021.

I also spent a good amount of time in Pentester Lab this year, completing out quite a few of the badges: White, Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange, Serialize, Intercept, Android, PCAP, Essential, and Unix. This was a flurry of activity and learning this summer. I made progress into other badges, but have plenty of content to get back into as I get time. Still, this was a significant outlay of time and addition to my skills and exposure to make this a highlight of my year.

I also did some online playground activities as well. I solved most of the challenges through the summer on the BHIS Cyber Range. I participating with a work team in the Splunk Boss of the SOC competition as part of the Splunk.conf conference. And I also was invited into and poked around Offensive Security’s Proving Grounds beta, which gave me a chance to stretch off some rust on my penetration testing of boxes.

Overall, that was mostly my year. It didn’t feel as productive as other years, but I’ll give it a pass considering 2020 was quite a shift and change for many reasons.

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