Technology plays a large part in our member services, with Information Technology at the center of all we do here at Blue Cross. That said, within the IT department, there is one area that is at the center of our team: IT Security. The IT Security team is in charge of developing processes and technologies that protect Blue Cross and our members from any entity who can pose a threat. And that is a responsibility not taken lightly.
“My team is responsible for implementing technologies that protect us from internal and external threats,” says Angela Williams, director of information and cyber security. “That means protection from someone who has a focus on attacking our network from an external perspective or our reputation from a criminal perspective. It can also be protecting us from an internal threat, for example if someone with authorized access to confidential data wanted to use it for criminal purposes.”
So what is it like working day-in and day-out to keep Blue Cross and our members’ information safe? We turned to the IT Security team to find out a little more about how they ended up in their role and insight on their responsibilities.
Everyone has a different path to IT Security.
The cyber security team at Blue Cross is full of talented employees—some have a passion for programming, like Systems Analyst Brett Hansen. “The company I worked for after college became a victim of website hacking and defacing,” he says. “I developed a program to erect different security appliances to protect the network and implement policies and procedures for security monitoring. I was interested in security from that point on.”
Others found IT Security through a love for computer science, like Information Security Analyst Ben Fritsch. “I actually wanted to be a pediatrician,” he says. “But I quickly discovered that’s not what I really wanted to go into, so I veered toward my second love, which is computers.” While he had no definite direction on the path he wanted to pursue in computer sciences, he started an internship with Blue Cross’ Information Security department in May 2010, and returned every summer until being hired full-time in 2014.
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding IT Security.
For some, an interest in computers and programming starts at a young age, but information technology isn’t just for those with a science or math background. “People may believe they don’t have a technical background,” Hansen says. “But, in today’s day and age, by the time you graduate from high school, you understand how to use a computer, you know how to do basic troubleshooting, you know how to find the answer to a problem.”
Careers in IT are also often oversimplified, with IT professionals commonly regarded as “people who know how to fix computers.” But at Blue Cross, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “IT Security is a ‘hodge podge’ of specialties,” says Fritsch. “There are lots of different jobs that need to be done, from applications testing and architecture, to engineering and operations, which monitors for active threats against an organization.” There are even ethical hackers, who test Blue Cross’s own programs to make sure access is only granted to those who should have it.
Above all, IT Security is about problem solving.
A “must have” for a successful career in Information Security? An understanding and curiosity for how systems work, as well as a resourcefulness in discovering the answers.
“My ability to solve problems and think things through from different perspectives is a huge benefit in my job,” says Williams. A focus on improving processes and procedures is necessary, as well. “You have to be really receptive to change,” says Fritsch. “You have to be open to proposing new solutions to weird and different problems.”
Pride and passion guides our IT Security team in their daily work. “In this profession, because it goes so unnoticed and under the radar, what pushes me daily is knowing that our sole job is to protect Blue Cross,” says Williams. “We try to be as invisible as possible, but I’m taking my passion and am a part of the solution to help protect the brand.”
Visit MI Blue Talent to learn about available positions with Blue Cross IT.
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