This is going to be my first blog entry that has nothing to do with any TryHackMe, HackTheBox, CyberDefenders, or Security Blue Team write-ups or walkthroughs.
Since my interest in cyber security began, I have always been enamored with the Red Team side of it. But, as I became sucked deeper into the Red Team materials, I started seeing the possible immediate contribution that the Blue Team’s knowledge/skills would have to my current workplace. And so- the hunt for a Blue Team training resource began.
As I was carrying out my research for the best blue team, cyber security training provider, I was impressed with the information I saw from Security Blue Team. I was so fascinated that I immediately approached my boss and asked him if I could use my allotted training budget to sign up for Security Blue Team Level 1. Long story short- I passed the BTL1.
My experience with BTL1 was more than enough to get excited about BTL2. As soon as the registration for BTL2 opened up, I promptly registered and was one of the first 100 early registrants. Now, the next part of this blog is about what separates Security Blue Team (SBT) from any other cyber security training providers. I mean, don’t get me wrong- SBT already offers the best blue teaming training on the planet- hands-down, but, my family’s unfortunate medical circumstances during that time- while my training subscription was ongoing- showed me the humanity of the people who work in this company. Signing up for the BTL2 course gives you 5 months of access to the training materials. When I signed up toward the end of 2021, I was not expecting any medically-related situations to hit my family. With permission from my wife- I will share her recent mental health struggles, which she continues to bravely fight through, even to the present day. My wife has suffered from Major Depressive Disorder for several years now. During the most recent months, her depression became much more consuming of her emotions and energy. She knew she needed extra help, beyond what her doctors and therapists could give her, so we made the difficult decision for her to check herself into the Huntsman Mental Health Institute to get the help she needs. It was heartbreaking to tell our kids that their mom would be away for an unknown amount of time, and, because of COVID, hospital visitation was not allowed, which made the separation away from my wife a lot tougher. Below is some paperwork outlining her in-patient stay for four weeks:
Getting discharged doesn’t mean my wife is all better, unfortunately. Mental health is a long process, and for some, it could mean a lifetime battle with no end in sight. From the day after my wife was discharged up to the time of this writing, she has been receiving treatments called Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). The American Psychiatric Association defines ECT as “a medical treatment most commonly used in patients with severe major depression or bipolar disorder that has not responded to other treatments. ECT involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia. It is typically administered by a team of trained medical professionals that includes a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist, and a nurse or physician assistant.” Below are screenshots of when she received treatments:
ECT has been proven to help and benefit people with various mental health issues, but there are also risks. One of those risks- which I have seen in my wife- is memory loss or memory gaps. Because of the memory loss side effect, she needs adult supervision 24/7 and she is not allowed to operate a motorized vehicle. There were many times that she would excitedly share something with me, and I would sadly tell her that she just showed/shared the same thing with me 5 minutes ago. I watch her frustratingly open all our kitchen drawers because she forgot where the eating utensils are.
As a side note- if you know someone who you think is struggling with depression, please reach out and regularly check on them. And if you are experiencing depression and/or having anxiety, please know there are people around you who love you and care for you. Most of the time, they just don’t know how to help or where to begin to help.
With all of the above things happening, it was hard to squeeze in some time to study the BTL2 materials. And one day, I was scrolling through LinkedIn, and I saw a post from Matt A. that he was the first person to become BTL2 certified. Congratulations by the way Matt!
Seeing Matt’s post reminded me that I haven’t touched the BTL2 materials for a while, and when I finally logged in to the portal, I was heartbroken to see that I only had two weeks of access left. I really wanted to get back to learning more about BTL2 topics and I was inspired by Matt’s certification. I knew it was a long shot to request an access extension, but I tried anyway. I went to Discord to quickly get an answer from any SBT Staff. I didn’t get any reply 4 days after my first Discord message. So, I posted a second message on Discord, but still no reply from SBT. 5 days after my second Discord message, I thought to give it a third try. I was nice and patient in my messages. I had some people telling me to vent on social media and post negative stuff about Security Blue Team, but I am not the type of person who burns bridges. There could be circumstances unbeknownst to me that make replying to Discord messages, not the team’s first priority. Also, the Security Blue Team community on Discord is amazing. I haven’t seen or experienced the toxicity that I’ve experienced from other Discord groups. One good example is a user who goes by “prof”:
Finally, SBT Josh replied to my Discord message asking if I entered a support ticket. And so, I went to the portal and created a support ticket not knowing if SBT will grant me an access extension. I tried my best in communicating that I wasn’t making things up, about my family’s medical situation. I proactively offered that I can send them medical bills and documents to prove that all the hospital stay and doctor visits and diagnosis are real. I wasn’t expecting a response from SBT anytime soon. I thought maybe give them a week or two to weigh in on my situation and then make a decision. I was stunned when I saw an email notification on my mobile device that an email came from SBT Support. I was shaky and felt uneasy opening the email because I was scared to maybe see words such as “We are sorry and regret to inform you that your request was denied…” something like that, but to my surprise, SBT didn’t even ask for documents to support my claim.
I have loved my experience with SBT. What more could they do or say to not love them more? SBT just showed that they are not just a training company with quality materials, but that they have quality humans working for them, who know and treat others with understanding and humanity. This is what every organization should be like- not just cyber security companies. They could have easily told me that it wasn’t their fault that my access is going to expire soon, but they didn’t. They trusted me that I was telling the truth- not asking for proof of hospitalization- and in return, I am and will continue to trust my blue team training with Security Blue Team.