Local Native Takes Part In Cyber Security NATO Operation

Terrence DeJesus, a Jamestown Native who recently participated in an annual cyber security exercise through a NATO cyber defense hub. Submitted photo

Terrance DeJesus, an Ohio resident and Jamestown native, recently participated in an annual cyber security exercise through an accredited North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) cyber defense hub, Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE).

The cyber security exercise, the Locked Shields Cyber Exercise, began in 2010 and is the largest annual cyber security exercise in the world. The exercise puts together a red team and a blue team where the red team consists of ethical hackers and the blue team those who focus on cyber security who will be defending against the hackers’ attacks.

The blue team will deploy infrastructure and programming to help defend and protect in a mock scenario. DeJesus said the goal of the red team is to distract or steal information and the goal of the blue team is to defend and stop those attacks. DeJesus will be participating as a part of the blue team, traveling to Tallinn, Estonia for several days to engage hands-on with this exercise with only a handful of other United States representatives.

“I will work with the blue team with separate subteams to deploy defense against the red team,” DeJesus said. “Specifically I will be doing threat hunting, which is where I identify threats manually and find where the hackers are in the environment that they’ve targeted.”

DeJesus said there are about 18 teams that make up the blue team and about 40 global nations involved besides the United States.

DeJesus ended up as a part of the blue team, specifically representing the US, Estonia and France team through his work as a Senior Cyber Security Research Engineer/Area Lead for a search analytics company called Elastic. His work there involves doing a little bit of both red team and blue team things, including doing red team work to understand how hackers do what they do, doing so in a controlled environment. He also helps train the company’s security solutions to detect these attacks.

DeJesus said he ended up as a part of the NATO CCDCOE’s exercise because of a colleague participating in it before single-handedly, who was now looking for others to join. DeJesus said the colleague was looking for people with experience in this area, so his name was mentioned along with a few others who work for Elastic. When talking with the Post-Journal, they were currently in the preparation stage for the exercise.

DeJesus said it means a lot to him to be able to participate and represent the United States with his team.

“It means a lot to me,” DeJesus said. “When you have this exercise across several different nations you have to put your best foot forward. It’s also good for Elastic and our work and solutions. We are representing the United States companies and what we do to contribute to the US and globally to protect against threat adversaries on a global scale.”

For DeJesus, he is most looking forward to the networking aspect of the exercise and being able to showcase the power they have at Elastic and the hard work the company has done over the years. He is also looking forward to finding the gaps in their detection systems and using the controlled environment to be able to rigorously test and address those gaps.

“This will then go back to our customers’ environments and allow them to be safer today than they were yesterday,” DeJesus said. “That is the ultimate goal, with the most trained and experienced red team members from around the world.”

Most importantly for DeJesus, he hopes to show with this exercise that it does not matter where you are born or where you come from to be able to contribute to making the world a better place.

“I want to show that even if you are born and raised in Jamestown there’s a lot you can go out into the world and contribute to make the world a better place,” DeJesus said. “I grew up just like the other kids in the area and took the route to cyber security that got me here.”

Additionally, DeJesus said if anyone is looking to pursue a career in cyber security, this exercise is just one of many things someone can do with that career. He said he would also be open to mentoring anyone interested.

“This is a career that does not require a doctorate or Master’s degree,” DeJesus said. “It requires hands-on experience and dedication. It’s very rewarding and an exceptional career.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today