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To Our Grads

An Open Letter to Our Graduates

Dear Graduates,

During this process, we have worked much harder than any of you to provide you the best learnings. We executed and evaluated over 1.400 assignments from the very first day until your graduation. However, we were always motivated by the results of your success, no matter how challenging it had been for us to prepare and manage this whole program. Furthermore, we never hesitated to use our whole set of assets and capabilities in order to understand your mental status and the potential frictions you may have encountered during your development. Thus, we supported the increase of your learning curve by scheduling periodic assignments.

Rather than our background studies -which would require a great amount of time to fully explain the respected, idealist and intense work in the background – this letter is about you and your continuous attempt to focus on the main objective at the most difficult cyber security oriented training program despite all the obstacles. Not only did you focus on technical improvement but also tried to deal with numerous mental challenges, motivational problems and communication conflicts. The simultaneity and compactness of all these struggles during these highly intensive ten weeks may have also prevented you to fully understand everything. Moreover, we need to say that this is the main character of all these challenges you have been required to embrace. Some of your actions needed to be the result of your instincts and that is why we worked so hard on them: To improve your intuitions. Thus, after the training program many of you shared feedbacks such as “During the training, there were cases I never really figured out but then, it hit me during a project at work. And I knew then.”

Therefore, it is obvious that there have been cases not fully sorted out by you during your training. There have always been “Why?” and “How?” questions. That is not uncommon at all. However, if you manage to interpret the outputs of your training through analyses and correlations, your learnings will be always in use during your professional life and your team projects. You will be experts when dealing with your upcoming challenges and you will be able to say, “This seems so familiar. I have done it before.”

Being a senior is neither memorizing nmap parameters nor porting out a C code on metasploit. Beyond all, seniority is a mental status. Never forget the mental resistance and the high level of thinking capability you pushed yourselves up to and acquired at the end of these ten weeks. This is your new mental standard. What is crucial now is to improve it even to a greater level and to focus on the constancy of this improvement.

Field studies should also be considered as mental activities rather than physical improvement tools. These studies fully clarify your way of dealing with obstacles, or what responses or excuses you create in case of failure. Sometimes, these outputs are so clear that they harass your ego and force you to blame someone. Furthermore, they enlighten you about all of these problems a team needs to solve when your personal and team values differ and interfere, when the pressure reaches to an unbearable point and when there is mist surrounding the air and you can’t see what is waiting for you and your team. At this point, these outputs also prove you how significant the field dominance, being aware of your team, banding together, keeping up with the rhythm and stay coordinated, being positive and passionate on your common objectives are, to row your boat further and further.

Nonetheless, we know it is never as easy as it seems.

Even at the start, your body freezes and you may not yet be able to carry your own weight. It may even feel severe to grab the tiniest object by your hands and your fingers may not manage to hold a loaf of bread. Your nerves get tighter and tighter and your reptilian brain pushes you to your comfort zone. It also forces you to question anything you do and start the grounding process in your brain to make you give up. Finally, you can either continue or leave it all behind. Still, each step further makes you tougher and lifts your mental resistance to a more advanced level.

Even when you consider to have turned the last edge and hope to reach the open sea, you can come across to a new corner and your patience can diminish to zero: That is when you feel to have done with all of this and question the meaning of all these efforts. But that is also the same moment when you make your decision up to cling to life. To remember your dreams is to recall your objectives, to analyze them, to be true to yourselves and to decide upon which way to choose also to be happy.

Your teammates are the ones whom you feel on your shoulder. It is their hand holding your arm when you stumble.

The incident is the whole shoot of your struggles to understand the fulminant and irrational orders of your commanders, to share them with your team, to coordinate and apply them. It is your reaction time. It is your Semper Paratus. It is your boring jokes and your efforts to control your mind health.

“My team or the duty?” is your dilemma.

The irruptions are the management of irregular warfare conflicts, keeping up together with your team and focusing on your objective and on the solutions of the problems; no matter how wrong your decisions seem even you believe them to be fully right. Cyber Struggle and Incident Management, is thus the projection of this process. Gathering information on the objective and embracing an offensive approach is thus, the extension of these efforts.

Seniority is to take responsibility whilst being a leader. It is to give confidence even with less technical knowledge. It is to form a triangle with closed eyes. It is to smile in pain, even underneath the boat.

Natural initiative is to share the responsibilities without suppressing your senior. It is to cover the deficiencies of your teammates and still, bearing to fall behind.

The smell, is to stay motivated and to go further arm-in-arm despite the queasiness. It is to stop the whole flow when you need it the most. It is to divide the problem into pieces and deal with them that way. It is the management of sources. It is your excel cells you fill up with hatred every week. Your real potential is, the heat expanding from the heating stove, even when your fingers do not feel it.

The real you, is to travel from out of city to the training center every week in spite of every difficulty. It is to get down on the desk and learn without a rest.

Your saying yes is the others’ saying “No.” It is your incidents when they are all asleep.

Your reaching to the objective, is your approach to be better and better every day.

Your willing, is to start doing it when others are still afraid to try.

Your being on guard, is your unceasing work and effort. It is what makes you obsessed.

You engagement applications are your social engineering capabilities, your empathy and your breaking down the prejudices. Your profiling, is your being realistic and staying true to your team.

Pentesting is what makes you better at SOC analyses.

Your cognitive development is what pushes you further and further technically. It is your holding onto your each other, what makes an unrecognized problem solvable.

Your fighting spirit is what gives you the power to finish this whole process. Your courage is to speak of your mind.

Your being a multidiscipliner is to unite these cognitive learnings within over 400 technical applications and the whole set of your technical development.

Psychological Operations and Criminal Profiling are your tools to bypass security solutions.

Altogether, it is Cyber Struggle. It is the future. It is to dignify the position and not to be dignified by the title. It is modesty. It is to cooperation. It is to have the best technical knowledge without losing virtue. It is to see the big picture. It is to complete the technical development piece by piece. And sometimes, it is Gestalt.

The value of what you get is as much as the amount of your efforts. Your add value is your sacrifices. What is left from you is your attitude.

Your not forgetting any of these are our dreams. Moreover, they are the worth of our efforts.

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