At the start of her career, My-Ngoc spent seven years working with Bechtel SAIC leading and managing the cyber security program for the Department of Energy, Yucca Mountain Project. My-Ngoc was tasked with growing and managing the cyber security program for this one-of-a-kind federal government project to address nuclear radioactive waste from nuclear bomb research and development (R&D) and testing, nuclear naval ships, and nuclear power plants. With this experience, she was tapped on the shoulder to consult and help Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a lab with approximately $3 B in operational cost and nearly 13,000 employee/users, to support the Atomic Bomb Act in order to rework and rearchitect their cyber security program after a cyber security incident and data breach of classified information. This was the start of her consulting career. For the past decade, My-Ngoc has been consulting for various firms, and later through her own LLC, Secured IT Solutions. She has been assisting client organizations in both public and private sectors to implement secure and compliant business processes and IT solutions using defense-in-depth and risk-based approaches along with providing other services with her team.
My-Ngoc was fortunate to “fall” into the cyber security field early on in her career and quickly grew a passion for the multi-faceted aspects it brings to an organization: people, policies, governance, risk, processes, AND technology. She found the cyber security tasks and projects she was assigned to be exciting as they included investigation, briefing senior management, working with law enforcement and counterintelligence, setting policies, as well as managing risk for the whole company.
My-Ngoc believes that it is not merely the technology itself, but the mix of people and processes alongside it that makes cyber security a challenge for many. Learning general best practices along with the technical components, coupled with the implications to the people and processes is the key. These topics invoke the need for deep thinking that switches from the right to the left side of the brain - from technical to organization/administrative. This balanced blend is needed to be an effective cyber security professional and leader. My-Ngoc enjoys offering different schools of thought and perspectives to her students, allowing them to work effectively with the integration of people, processes, and technology.
Since the beginning of her professional career, My-Ngoc has held the mindset and philosophy that it is better for a person to learn as many lessons from others rather than repeat mistakes and errors. For this reason, she is passionate about sharing her experience and knowledge with others in the SANS classroom. With her joint background in technology and management, she is able to share awesome analogies with her students so that technical materials can be better understood and grasped. My-Ngoc’s teaching philosophy is that theories, best practices, and technical topics are better understood and retained with classroom engagement, related real-life stories, and analogies. She is all about getting through to students on complex topics and making it stick; therefore, she injects engagement and examples throughout the course content. As a life-long learner, My-Ngoc’s passion for cyber security is kept alive due to the need to constantly stay on top of changes in current and emerging technologies, regulations, and best practices.
Along with a master's degree in Management Information Systems, she carries top security certifications that include GSLC, GSTRT, GPEN, GCIH, GSEC, GISF and CISSP, and is a former QSA. She is a member of the FBI's InfraGard, the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), and the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC). My-Ngoc serves on two advisory boards for University of Las Vegas, both the Management Information System Program Board and the Cyber Security Board. In 2012 My-Ngoc co-founded the non-profit organization CyberSafeNV to raise security awareness among Nevada residents and is currently the organization's chairperson.
Outside of technology, My-Ngoc loves to dance and finds time to take classes such as chorographic hip-hop, swing dancing, and ballroom dancing. Her other favorite past time is playing board games such as Codenames, Jaipur, Century (Spice or Golem), Istanbul, 7 Wonders, and Hanabi.
ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS BY MY-NGOC NGUYEN:
The Five Most Dangerous New Attack Techniques and How to Counter Them, RSA Conference 2019