The Coast Guard is seizing cyberspace as an operational domain in order to defend cyberspace, enable operations, and protect infrastructure. As with every other operating domain, people, not technology, are the most important element. That requires recruiting, training, educating, managing and retaining a diverse, professional cyberspace workforce.
We sat down with LTJG Clovis “Marcus” Guevara, a team lead on the Coast Guard Cyber Protection Team, to find out what it means to be a part of the Coast Guard cyberspace workforce. Check out his short Q&A session!
Q: How long have you been in the USCG and what made you want to join?
A: I have been in the US Coast Guard three years. I was an enlisted reservist in the US Air Force when I applied for the Direct Commission Engineer program. I joined the Coast Guard mainly for two reasons: I loved the life-saving/rescue mission and I had read that the Coast Guard had just commissioned a Cyber Command. I believed that being part of a smaller service, and a newly formed Cyber Command, would provide me a unique experience that I may not receive elsewhere. I was looking for a challenge that would help me mature and become a great example for my family.
Q: What made you want to pursue a career in cyber?
A: My family purchased our first computer in the mid 1990’s. Ever since I touched a keyboard, I was hooked. Outside of school and sports, being on the computer was all I wanted to do. I soon got involved in some communities, through newsgroups and Internet relay channels, where I was able to learn programming and basic hacking skills. Throughout high school and college, I didn’t really have a great lifestyle and that led to me making many mistakes. However, during college I met someone who helped me turn my life around. I became very involved with my church and I started a ministry to help others avoid my mistakes.
After college, I started working as a software developer but I had a deep desire to be a part of something bigger. I liked working with computers but I also liked working with people. Cyber security interested me because unlike Information Technology – or “IT” – it was mainly concerned with people. IT workers are concerned with troubleshooting systems to get them working again. Cyber security professionals are more concerned with the criminals, or actors, on the other side of the technology. Understanding how people work, why they do what they do, and how to prevent it was something that I learned through my work in ministry. I figured I could put my technical skills to use in this domain to do more good than I was able to do as a programmer. I obtained a Masters degree in Cyber security and then joined an Air Force Texas Air National Guard cyber unit. My experience only further solidified my desire to be in this field.
Q: What is your role in the CPT and how can others join?
A: I am the team lead of the “sixth squad” of the CPT. There are five of us and we are the only members of the CPT who are on detached duty at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). We are augmenting the DHS Hunt and Incident Response Team (HIRT), which is a deployable cyber force that responds to national cyber incidents for government and private sector entities. The best way to become a part of the CPT is to reach out and connect with people. There is no easy answer and there is not one route to end up contributing. We need people who understand the legal, criminal, acquisition and leadership aspects as well as the technical aspects of the cyber domain. I’m more than happy to help anyone who e-mails me looking to become a part of the community.
Q: How does a career in the USCG cyber workforce impact the Service as a whole?
A: The cyber domain is still a fairly new domain so it’s crucial that we move fast to stay ahead of our enemies. We are already seeing massive cyber incidents in the private sector and the consequences of cyber attacks can be devastating. Now is a fantastic time to become a part of the cyber community because you have the opportunity to influence the growth and direction of a domain that is as exciting as it is important.