E44 - Peter McGinnis at Check Point

Zack Mount
Peter McGinnis

By Zack Mount & Peter McGinnis

On our 44th episode of The Route to Networking podcast, our Head of Network Security, Zack Mount, invited Peter McGinnis to the show. Peter is the Public Sector Security Engineering Manager at Checkpoint Software Technologies, Ltd. During this episode, Peter shares his thoughts surrounding the threats that are open to businesses through companies not valuing the importance of Cyber Security. He helps us to understand the current threats the industry is currently facing due to a huge skills shortage.

From a young age, Peter always had an interest and curiosity in computers and gaming. So, at a later date when it came to his studies, he chose a Computer Games Technology degree in his first year. At that point, Cyber Security was not a degree option but during his first year they offered people who were interested in Cyber Security to learn about it and if there were enough interested, they were going to create a degree for them to join. Luckily enough people put their hands up for it, so he went into his 2nd year on a brand-new Cyber Security course. It was interesting for him, not only because of the course but because they got the shape of the content throughout the year.

The most useful thing he learned throughout his degree that has helped him up until the present day is the sheer size and different ways attacks can happen and it was actually key in the interview stage at Checkpoint and gave him that base level of understanding.

Peter believes everybody should know before entering the Cyber Security space that there’s a place for people with varying skills and proficiencies. Just make sure you are engaging in high-level discussions. There is a spectrum from a sales guy to a technical guy and there’s a spot for everyone on that spectrum.

More on Checkpoint…

At Checkpoint, they currently have three main product pillars. The Quantum, Harmony and CloudGuard. Quantum is the traditional Network Security pillar that any physical product sits under. The Harmony pillar secures the end users and ensures they have anti-virus sitting on the endpoints. CloudGuard is the security gateway that secures the infrastructure’s code. On top of that, they have many services that wrap around those.

With the world of technology constantly evolving, Peter discusses what he saw 5 years ago. Checkpoint had gateway technologies and Endpoint technologies whereas now he’s seeing a massive move towards the cloud. He is already seeing more niche subjects evolve like SASE, Zero Trust and SD-WAN. There has also been a monumental shift in industry ways of working and delivering business objectives.

Looking back if he could give some advice to his 16-year-old self, other than investing in bitcoin, make sure not to skip learning and know the fundamentals. It is easy to skip over because they can seem uninteresting and laborious to learn and the other bits are more interesting. But a clear understanding of the fundamentals is critical for being able to layer on top of all the other pieces of knowledge that you need to know. If you do not know how it works underneath, then you do not know what its limitations are, and you won’t know how to truly architect or design things to work well.

So, if you are looking to get into the industry, focus on your own skills and competencies and do not compare yourself to your peers who have been there for a lot longer than you. They have hired you for a reason and there are sometimes a lot of soft skills you can bring that will bolster the fact you don’t have experience. “Find your strengths and play to them while improving your weaknesses.”

Peter discusses the biggest skills gap he is seeing in the industry currently and what sort of skills you should be looking at if you’re considering a career in the space. Make sure you tune in now to give it a listen!