Guardians of the digital galaxy: A spotlight on cyber security

What does a career in cyber security, at Telstra, really look like? We asked Senior Security Specialist, Benjamin Kereopa-Yorke, and Technology Specialist, Maddie Sumner, to share their insights.
Telstra Cyber Security Team · 25 March 2024 · 5 minute read

At Telstra, monitoring our networks 24/7, and blocking millions of threats like scams, malicious calls, emails and websites is all in a day’s work. Our talented cyber security professionals are committed to keeping our customers’ data safe and promoting security best practices across the country.


But what does a career in cyber security, at Telstra, really look like?


We asked Senior Security Specialist, Benjamin Kereopa-Yorke, and Technology Specialist (Cyber security), Maddie Sumner, to share their insights.

Fighting the good fight

For Benjamin, being born deaf and wearing hearing aids was a formative experience that highlighted the critical importance of technology.


“Without technology, I couldn’t be as involved in society and the workplace as I am now,” he shares. “As a result, I have always viewed technology as something to be supported, secured and made available to as many people as possible.”


Starting his career in IT Support, Benjamin soon began to expand his horizons and learn more about cyber security processes, which led him to his role at Telstra today.


“I grew my skills in Security Operations, Auditing, Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC), and Engineering over time,” he says. “I was working as a Managed Services Provider doing cyber security full-time when a Telstra recruiter came knocking with the opportunity to do cyber security product management, which was a great experience for 18 months. I now do 50% GRC work in Security and Operations, and 50% AI/MACHINE LEARNING Security Engineering work on secondment.”

For Maddie, it was the opportunity to help people that led her down the path to cyber security.


She shares, “Cyber security is one area of tech where you can help people (if you use your powers for good, that is!).”


Maddie explains further, “One cyber security class at uni was enough for me to realise that’s what I wanted to do in my life, and while I’m not breaking into stuff, stealing info or finding bugs with products, I am enjoying a really important part of cyber security: people. My role is all about influencing better security behaviours through automation and marketing techniques, such as simplifying content, creating incentives and making it fun!”


Rapid growth, constant evolution

With technology now an inseparable part of our daily lives, cyber security as a specialisation is continually growing and changing to protect people and organisations against increasingly sophisticated threats.


“Unfortunately, most of us know someone who has had their money or information stolen – and it is those personal stories that really have the biggest impact,” Maddie shares. “In the last year, two people in my family had their financial details compromised – one of these I was able to step in and provide advice, but too late for the other.”


Maddie explains further, “People often only care after an incident has occurred, and although disappointing, one benefit of an attack is the natural boost of ‘cyber talk’ in daily conversation, which helps encourage others to review their security and privacy.”


“Cyber security has gone from another tool in IT workers' knowledge kit to a standalone function, with tremendous responsibility and pressures to perform,” Benjamin adds. “It has had to find its feet and work out effective ways of working with other business units, and has constantly evolved best-practice approaches to these ways of working, almost as much as threat actors have evolved their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs)!”


Considering a career in cyber security?

For those thinking about taking the leap in the fast-growing field of cyber security, Benjamin and Maddie have some key pieces of advice.


“More important than anything else in this field is attitude,” Benjamin says. “It's a cliche for a reason. You can teach almost anyone a technical skill but you cannot easily teach attitude.”


“No matter how good you believe you are, be humble. If you are new to cyber security, show your attitude, skills and drive through things like volunteering your skills to small companies that can't afford cyber security. Participate in hackathons and CTFs (Capture the flag- a cyber security exercise), and attend conferences if you can afford to do so. Network online and meet people who are already where you want to be. These things are far more important than certificates or degrees.”


“My belief is that you should say ‘yes’ to as many opportunities as possible, especially when starting a new job,” Maddie adds. “I've enjoyed an incredible journey at Telstra so far, and have met many people that I can reach out to for support or questions. More importantly, they're simply a great network of friends that will outlast any job. If you ever see a sign-up form for training, workshops, networking or social events – go for it!”


When it comes to career development as a cyber security professional, both Maddie and Benjamin agree that choosing the right employer makes all the difference.


“Since joining Telstra, I have felt supported enough to accept challenging tasks and my personal development has benefited significantly,” Maddie shares. “We have many training courses made available to us, and a positive work culture.”


“Telstra has been amazing for my career and my growth and development in cyber security,” Benjamin adds. “From giving me extensive training opportunities at universities through free micro credentials, to subscriptions to e-learning platforms, free AWS/Azure exam vouchers, and one day a month off work to dedicate to learning and development, as well as support to attend and speak at cyber security conferences, Telstra is an incredible place to work if you want to do amazing things. Telstra also offers growth and promotion opportunities that I have not encountered elsewhere in my career.”


Keen to kickstart or grow your cyber security career at Telstra? Head on over to the Telstra Careers page to discover the latest job opportunities.

By Telstra Cyber Security Team

Senior Security Specialist, Benjamin Kereopa-Yorke, and Technology Specialist (Cyber security), Maddie Sumner. 

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