Repetition Does Not Equal Discipline

By C3 Staff
Jun 25, 2021

With close to 20 years of experience, cybersecurity professional Ed Carroll shares the important difference between repetition and discipline in his field in the following article. Currently, Ed works full-time as a Senior Director for the Carolina Cyber Center.

“The Friday before the game, we weren’t ready. After working long and hard on transferring existing point-of-sale systems to tablets for concession stands in the stadium, we faced continued failure and issues. When leveraging tablets as point-of-sale systems, vendors take payments in real-time … which means hundreds of thousands of dollars going through the stadium systems on any given day. As the Saturday afternoon game loomed closer, I wanted to throw my hands up and be done.

“But I didn’t. Instead, my team and I worked through the night. At five in the morning, I caught two hours of rest at my hotel before returning to the stadium. Discipline meant I had to stick it out. I had to keep my commitment to the stadium and ensure that their mobile point-of-sale devices were secure for game day. For better or for worse, we were able to do it. Sure, I learned a lot of lessons about what not to do and got super sick afterward, but the point is this: I had to have the discipline to stick with something I didn’t want to do.

“As cybersecurity professionals, we must understand what discipline is and what it isn’t. It’s not getting up and doing the same thing every day. That may be true for brushing your teeth, but not for cybersecurity. If you’re doing the same thing day in and day out, you’re likely to miss the real threats or remain unable to solve the ones you are confronted with. Discipline as a cybersecurity professional is not about doing one thing repeatedly: it’s about having the right character.

“Twenty years ago, I got into cybersecurity by luck. Since then, I’ve found that you can’t miss a day of learning. If you’re with an organization and lack the discipline to pay attention, then you leave the door open for infiltration. Study after study shows that there is a lack of skilled cybersecurity professionals, which is why character is so very important to us at the Carolina Cyber Center.

“The people who will go on to make both good and skilled professionals are the ones possessing a disciplined moral character to put their positive values into action: disciplined in curiosity, thinking critically, collaborating, and practicing agency under duress.

“As a current cybersecurity professional, employer, or student, let’s commit to a standard of discipline. Our field of work is attractive to many types of people. Cybersecurity changes quickly, it’s full of exciting opportunities, and it often pays really well! However, who are the cybersecurity professionals we can trust? One easy way is simply by asking what someone has been learning lately. Let’s find (and develop) cybersecurity professionals who are not only lifelong learners but are disciplined in being curious and learning each day.”

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