Building the Cyber Skills to Hold Bad Actors Accountable


Anthea Gonzalez in a lab


Anthea Gonzalez (ITM, M.A.S. CYF ’22): I have known since I was really young that I wanted to catch bad guys. And then when I was about 15, I heard the term cybersecurity for the first time. And I just assumed, “Oh that’s just catching bad guys online, that’s what I’m going to do.”

The internet is great at being anonymous. How do you hold someone accountable if it’s an anonymous website and there’s no way to trace someone back?

ITM is the information technology and management program here at Illinois Tech. Like IT, but also the management component, so what it takes to do while I’m managing IT.  

I really enjoy a lot of the hands-on courses. One I particularly like, a Vulnerability and Analysis course. The final was essentially the professor gave us an IP and was like, “Break into it.”

I found that it takes a lot of patience and a lot of research, a lot of reconnaissance. What kind of machine am I looking at? Am I looking for open parts? How can I exploit those? And it felt really rewarding when I was finally able to pop that shell. That’s a memory that I’ll keep forever.

I’ve been able to take both really technical classes, but also more of the policy—looking into why we do the things that we do in IT, which I found myself really enjoying.  

I accepted an offer with Cisco Systems as an information security engineer with the team I’ve been interning for about three years now, so I’m really excited to go back to them.  

No one is un-trackable, there’s never a true way to be secure. It’s just being able to accept risks, and so I would hope that one day I could help in a courtroom and present like, “Oh this is why I think this happened,” and do the best to my ability to make sure that someone who did something bad is held accountable for it.