40-year-old advertising professional completed Google’s cybersecurity certificate: Ask Me Why

As indicated in the title, I have been working in the advertising industry for about 20 years and recently I completed the Google cybersecurity certificate. Sounds odd? Let me explain why.

Like many of you, I have experienced more and more of our daily lives being conducted online or digitally. And that means the impact of hacking or losing access to our digital lives is getting more and more serious. While I have always had cybersecurity at the back of my mind, I didn’t start learning a cybersecurity certificate before this summer. So what pushed me over?

  • The main reason is that I want to develop simple applications or programs with the help of Generative AI like chatGPT.
  • But before I can make them available for public usage, I want to make sure that I have fundamental cybersecurity guardrails in place.
  • When I tried to use chatGPT’s help to create my own chatbot, after deploying to Google Cloud Run, the system notified me of more than 200 warnings. I had no idea about what most of them were, and why they were important to fix, or I could just ignore them.
  • I am looking for a course that gives me the fundamentals and then I can go a bit deeper on my own to make sure that I don’t make obvious security errors when building an application.
  • Since moving from Singapore to the US, as a family, we have experienced a lot more instances of social engineering hacks, scams, and the like.

Which certificate did I get specifically?

You can check out my badge here and the course is Google Cybersecurity professional certificate on Coursera.

Google cybersecurity certificate chandler nguyen

What do I think of the course after taking it?

It is a fundamental course so the content overall is wide but not deep. They cover a wide range of topics from understanding networks, popular cyber security frameworks, standards, tools like Splunk, Chronicle, basics about Python, command line interface, etc…

The course is built for students or fresh graduates looking for a job so:

  • There is a lot of talk on encouragement to keep going. I skipped these parts.
  • Lots of content about the importance of collaboration, communication, managing stakeholders, etc… Basically the basic soft skills that a fresh graduate needs to find a job. I skipped these parts too.

The advantage of online learning is that you can glance and skip topics/materials that you already know. I took full advantage of this benefit and completed the certificate (part-time) in about 1 month.

I haven’t worked in any security job or with advanced security teams so I have no good judgment on whether completing this course is enough for an entry-level security analyst job. My gut feeling says that it is probably not enough. While the course does try to include hands-on practices with various tools and situations, my educated guess is that a lot of real-world experience /practice is needed for someone to be proficient in Python or using different SIEM tools.

So what’s next?

I will:

  • Continue to play around with simple applications, with the help of GenAI
  • Learn more about different specific security concepts or warnings as I come across them.
  • Continue to apply the cyber security principles learned in this course in my personal life. For example, I re-formatted an external hard disk with stronger security measures to make sure the data is deleted.

That’s all from me.


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