CG Cyberspace Workforce Spotlight Q+A: Russell Barnes

How long have you been part of the C4IT Service Center workforce, and what made you want to join?

I joined the C4ITSC team in May of 2014. I joined after years of work in the Department of Defense and the desire to be a part of a service with a primary mission to directly support American citizens. I greatly enjoyed my DOD career and think of those 15 years fondly but always knew I wanted to be a part of the work that organizations like the Coast Guard do to directly impact our fellow citizens as well as visitors to our countries waterways.

I think we often forget the true privilege of serving on our own soil, and I do not take execution of that privilege lightly. It is unfortunate I cannot always give everyone the answer they desire when it comes to work my organization is asked to execute, but we strive every day to do as much as we possibly can to enable our mission and meet senior leadership ideals.

What made you want to pursue a career in cyber?

I don’t think I ever considered pursuing a cyber career until I had been in the field as an enlisted member of the U.S. Air Force for many years. I decided I wanted to serve my country, and I got very lucky that my country decided it wanted me to learn information technology (IT). I began my career by decommissioning the last Air Force telephone operator shop, spending my first nine months in IT as Ellsworth Operator Three, transferring calls for mostly Morale, Welfare and Recreation purposes. When we closed the shop, I got assigned to do systems integration for IT assets on the B-1’s at Ellsworth.

I received an assignment as a switch and router admin in South Korea but became a router admin when I showed up at my next station in Panama City, Florida. From there, I sought out countless learning opportunities and eventually moved to program of record support for air assets. For the last 10 years I have been engaged in cyber operations and engineering doing a combination or Cyber Security Operations Center, information assurance and security tool engineering and sustainment.

What is your role in the C4IT Service Center, and how can others join?

I am currently assigned as the Security and Vulnerability Management lead for EISI PL. The translation is that I own the internal cyber tools that impact the enterprise. End Point Security (HBSS), Vulnerability Scanning (ACAS) and SIEM (McAfee ESM/Nitro) make up our current catalog with Whitelisting (AppControl), Asset Visibility (ForeScout), Web Scanning (HPE/Micro Focus WebInspect) and CPT support all in the pipeline.

I report to the EISI Product Line Manager. If these are areas that interest you, I encourage everyone to seek education on the topics either via a university or certification. Those will give you the opportunity to stand out when you work to gain enterprise assignments in the military, civilian jobs or if you choose to join us as an industry partner in the future.

We are also working to address our community‚Äôs needs via submissions to CG-791 via the CROP. If you submit a requirement and it is approved, we would bring you into the project as a team member/stakeholder to ensure we deliver the correct capability. Another avenue is by volunteering for advertised TDY’s. From time to time we need augmentation, and those are great opportunities to get involved and make an impact. The final option is via FSD. We are in constant contact with those folks as the C4ITSC front door, and they can often guide you to me if needed.

How does a career in the C4IT Service Center workforce impact the service as a whole?

We are an enabler. It is critical that we focus on our customers by delivering operational and administrative capabilities in a sustainable fashion. Some days this is accomplished by doing engineering behind the scenes to keep our core services available, but the key is always tracing our work to the mission and validated requirements. With my area specifically, it is critical to not just be compliant, which is very important, but also actively identify and seek alternative solutions when the mission requires a security shortfall.

We also design the next generation systems that will identify or block the sophisticated adversaries we are facing more and more today. If you want to know more about how we can impact our security posture and product delivery, I am always up for a conversation. This is a fascinating and fluid career field. If you want to join and love working hard, you will certainly never be bored.

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