Willis News

Staff Profile: Salman Niksefat

September 5, 2023

Hi Salman! Thank you for speaking with us today and welcome to Willis College! Can you talk just a little bit about your experience in CyberSecurity?

Salman Niksefat:
I have a PhD in computer engineering with a specialization in cryptographic protocols. My research was about designing new cryptographic protocols to provide privacy during network security operations, such as intrusion detection. Intrusion detection is a process in which we detect intrusions into our networks. So, it may have some privacy concerns. The protocols I designed during my Ph.D. studies allow an organization to process private data and find those intrusions without being concerned about the privacy of people and data.

I have more than 15 years of experience in cybersecurity, both in academia and in the industry. Penetration testing is my passion, and I’ve been doing penetration testing for 15 years. It’s all about finding bugs and vulnerabilities in software and networks and then reporting them to the managers. In terms of my academic experience, I’ve been teaching various cybersecurity courses and practical cybersecurity workshops. More specifically, in the previous university where I taught, I was responsible for a penetration testing workshop for our master’s students. In that workshop, students learned how to find bugs and discover security vulnerabilities in software and in networks, then they came up with solutions to mitigate them. So yeah, I’ve been involved in both industry and academia. Also, I’ve published a number of research papers in this field.


Great, and what does a cybersecurity analyst do? What are the career opportunities available for people who graduate from this program?

Salman Niksefat:
Well, I think there are lots of career opportunities. For example, one that I think is highly needed these days is the penetration tester. The penetration tester is a technical guy who acts like a real hacker, and he or she tries to find the bugs or vulnerabilities before the real hackers can take advantage of them and use them to breach an organization’s network. They try to find those vulnerabilities, and after that, they prepare the report and list those vulnerabilities as well as the countermeasures that can be taken to fix those bugs and report them to the security administrator or the organization’s network administrator. There are also many other career opportunities in cybersecurity, including, SOC or Security Operations Center technicians who help set up and monitor all the security events inside their network. There are a bunch of different careers available to students after their graduation.


Is there a significant demand right now for cybersecurity analysts?

Salman Niksefat:
Yeah, for sure. I’ve heard that out of six job positions in cybersecurity in Canada, one remains unfilled because of the shortage of skilled workers or skilled professionals in this field. I think if someone graduates from Willis College and learns the topics we teach here, they will find a job very soon.


What would you say to somebody considering taking the Willis College cybersecurity program?

Salman Niksefat:
I always tell my students that if they want to be good at cybersecurity, they must first learn the underlying concepts. For example, if you want to learn network security, you must be familiar with networking concepts and then move on to cybersecurity topics. If you want to know how VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) work, you must first learn how the Internet Protocols or the Transmission Control Protocols work. So, to be a successful professional in this field, you have to be proficient and professional in the underlying areas in computer science and be familiar with operating systems such as Linux and Windows.

We [Willis College] start from scratch. We teach the students how the computer hardware works. Then, we start with the basic concepts and topics in operating systems. We teach them basic knowledge of the Linux and Windows operating systems. And after teaching all these materials, we move on to more advanced cybersecurity topics. I think it’s an excellent program to start because not only do we teach advanced topics in cybersecurity, but we also cover all the underlying topics that are needed to be a good professional in this field.

What Our Graduates Are Saying

Online schooling was helpful in working around my schedule. It allowed me to gain the education I needed from the comfort of my own home. Despite online classes, you receive a quick response when help is needed.
Daphne Phillips
Addictions & Community Services Worker Program