Supervisory Information Technology Specialist (Information Security) Adrian
Job Title: SUPV IT Specialist (INFOSEC)
Location: Office of Information Technology, Management Directorate, Washington, DC
As an IT Specialist in cybersecurity, Adrian helps protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information systems and data across USCIS through effective security operations, security monitoring, incident response and continuous monitoring to support USCIS’ mission.
How does fun relate to your work?
The work we do in OIT cybersecurity is a lot of fun and is personally rewarding. First, I get to work with a driven, intelligent team that is committed to the mission. We understand how the work we do in cybersecurity relates to the end users in the field and to our customer applicants and beneficiaries. Second, we get to work with cutting edge technology. We embrace openness and flexibility in technology while ensuring IT security, which very few in the federal space are currently doing. Working in such a dynamic environment is definitely fun!
How did you end up working here at USCIS?
I began working with USCIS as a contractor employee in 2006. It was my first job as a contractor in a new company, and USCIS was our first client. Immediately, something just clicked and I knew that USCIS was where I wanted to spend my career. I love the mission of the agency and relished the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s personal life. I spent 4 years at the agency as a contractor before moving on to another client. In 2014, I returned to USCIS as a federal employee.
Can you describe an experience or project that really brought your career with USCIS to life?
Close friends of mine adopted a son from China. International adoption is one of the benefits that our agency provides, and I had the opportunity to witness the process up close as they navigated the application process. The outcome was definitely worthwhile as they now have a 3 year old son running around the house getting into mischief. What an amazing tangible ‘end product’ of the USCIS mission.
Similarly, I have a few friends who have married foreign nationals and can see how the work we do here is important. Often throughout my day, as I work to ensure our IT systems and data are protected, I think of them. How would I feel if I had to tell them our systems were breached and their personal information was compromised? At the end of the day, I am protecting them.
Tell us about a project in a part of the world that few people ever get to see.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Jordan and Kenya in support of the USCIS refugee division. Our team was tasked with finding ways to improve access to IT systems from remote locations while still protecting refugee applicants’ data. The challenge was to ensure the IT infrastructure can be as effective and efficient as the local conditions allow while ensuring our data is properly secured, which is vital to both our agency and our customers. In the case of refugees, protecting their data can truly be a matter of life and death – in some instances, fear of reprisals from unfriendly governments is a reality.
I was impressed with the determination and flexibility of USCIS staff stationed abroad. Seeing real world IT problems up close gave us insight into how best to engineer solutions that support these unique users in the field. The dedication and efforts of my colleagues stationed abroad to support the USCIS refugee mission was humbling.
What’s the biggest challenge for your team?
Our biggest challenge working in cybersecurity is that we have to be right all the time, every time. The bad guys, on the other hand, only have to get lucky once. We are never done. We are constantly looking at ways to improve while keeping up with the rapid rate of change in this organization. It is a key challenge, but we have embraced it by ‘baking in’ the security requirement early. We leverage changing technology and new projects to improve the organization’s security posture. We view every new product as an opportunity to implement new security functionality rather than as an obstacle.
What kinds of people thrive on your team?
Driven people thrive on my team. Everyone on my team is tremendously talented and driven to protect the immigration system and the data of our applicants and beneficiaries. We hold ourselves to a high standard.