Proud of my students’ achievements @ UA&P event

Last February 24, 2017, me and my undergraduate students went to the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) in Pasig City to present their project Hydra in a school-initiated research conference.

The event was not very big but various students from undergrad to PhD were prepared to present their papers. I was really pushy but cautious to my students at the same time- I would like to guide them in their project and prepare them to present it by themselves in front of academicians.

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A copy of the Parallel Session schedule and Abstract

And so the day came… my students Kent and Letty created their presentation slides. I told them to limit it to 6-10 slides only and practice explaining their project in the simplest and shortest way possible… which they were able to do very well.

That moment when my student started presenting made me feel proud as their teacher. 🙂

Congrats Kent and Letty for a job well done! Although I still have a lot of waiting to do for the expense reimbursement haha

 

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With my students, Kent Miculob and Letty Laureta

To read the paper we submitted, you may visit this link.

 

Post statement- Use an old Roman encryption to decrypt the message below

hvq- grfgpbzfrp@tzk.pbz; cjq- Grfgpbzfrp@12345

 

8 Helpful Things You can do to Prepare and Pass a GIAC exam

Roughly one year after I passed the GIAC Web Application Penetration Tester (GWAPT) exam, I took the GIAC Mobile Device Security Analyst (GMOB). I became one of a less than a thousand professionals who earned the certification. One of the observations that I have is that preparations I did for both exams were pretty much the same- from the length of time I studied and the manner I created the index etc.

I decided to write this article to help those people who are planning or studying for any GIAC exam. I also compared my preparation to others who took a different GIAC exam and the results are pretty much the same.

I am providing exam preparations for those who are taking either the SANS boot camp (live) or a SANS on-demand course. I’m not in the position to provide tips for those taking a challenge exam because I haven’t tried it. (those who don’t have any SANS materials and solely rely on their own resources matching the GIAC exam objectives)

So here it goes…

8.Read all the SANS books at least 3 times .

I know it’s quite lengthy and some people have a tendency to just read the chapter summary. But you have to read the books and its entirety. SANS sticks to its course materials. There will be a lot of trick questions along the way but all the questions will come from the course materials.So if you miss the details, then you miss the opportunity to answer it. Believe me, the summary won’t exactly tell you the specific directory where that certain Trojan hides the file.  You need to have read it.

Also, based on my my experience, almost 50-50 of the questions in exam are theoretical and application questions. The exam won’t only check if you know how to use the tools. It will also check if you understood why, when and where to use them. These things will be explained in the books.

Why read the books at least 3 times? The first time you read the materials, I’m sure it’s going to be information overload. But it will give you a grasp of the width and depth of the exam. You will be able to scope your study. You can start using post-its to mark the chapters of the books. The second time you read, you will give time to understand the lessons in the materials. You may start doing your index that time. The third time you read the materials, you it will refresh you with the things you already know and you can get back to the topics you might have missed.

7.Do all the lab exercises and explore the other functionalities of the tools.

When you go to the SANS training, you will be receiving a USB containing all the tools and lab environment that you need. You need to do all the lab exercises. Some of the tools might be familiar to you like Wireshark, Cain, Whois etc. Do the exercises still because depending on the course, the tools may be used in a different way.

Also, be aware of the tools that are introduced in the book but don’t have any lab exercises. There are questions that will ask you about that tool and you need to have an idea how to use it.

And don’t expect questions that ask for the same commands or actions that were used in the lab exercises. The exam will give a different scenario using different commands and functionalities of the tool. So it’s best to explore the functionalities of the tool other than the things that were given in the exercise.

6.Create your index for the topics.

As you would know, GIAC exams are open notes. And usually in class, the exams that are open notes are not easy exams. haha You might be tempted to skip the study and search the answers in the books during exam. That’s not good at all. You only have approximately 1.5 minutes to answer an item in the exam.

One of the traditional ways to do it is through creating your index of the topics and tools. It can be done in MS Word or MS Excel depending on your need. You can even use a notebook to write down the notes handwritten.

The goal of the index is to help you recall what the specific details in that topic are. There should be a short description about it and a reference on what book, chapter and page you can find more information about it.

The goal of the index is not to copy paste the contents in the book in a different paper. That won’t be helpful. Just summarize the topic and write the reference where you can find it.

Ideally, your index should be around 3-5 pages long.

5.Create another index for the tools.

When you study for the exam, you will be studying and using around 100+ tools. It’s also best to create index indicating specifically the purpose of the tool is, the known commands, the interface type (GUI or CLI) and for what platform/s it can run.

You can put reference to the page of the book as well if that tool has a lot of notable very long commands.

4.Set a date for your exam so you will be motivated to study.

You have four (4) months  after the training or initial subscription to take the exam. Personally, I think that’s already a long time. With this type of time frame, you might have the notion thinking that you have a lot of time. To avoid this type of thinking, set the exam in advance so that you will be motivated (and forced) to study to meet that deadline.

Also, don’t schedule the exam very late like setting it up on the last day that you can possibly take the exam. Provide a buffer because unavoidable incidents might happen like typhoons or flooding in the Philippines can disrupt the operations of exam centers. (or other personal issues like sickness etc) You will have to pay additional fees if you will take the exam beyond the 4-month period.

Also, GIAC allows rescheduling of exam at least 24-hours prior from the actual date of the exam. Providing a buffer will give you a time to reschedule for free.

3.Treat the Practice Tests like it’s the actual exam.

SANS will provide you two (2) practice tests that simulate the certification exam. The questions there will show you the way they ask questions in the actual exam. Personally, I think the tuning point for your review is when you take the first practice test. It will tell you exactly afterwards in what exam domains you need to improve on.

Important note: Treat the practice tests like the actual tests. In my experience, I took the practice tests free from any work or pressure. I took the practice test after I rested well. I also took the practice test in a closed room with proper ventilation and lighting, similar to the actual testing center.

You can opt to choose to see the explanation of the wrong answers or all the answers. My default choice is to show the explanation of all the answers.

Another important note: Don’t expect that the questions in the practice tests will appear in the exam. These practice tests will only provide you the feeling of taking the exam. You will be disappointed if you will just memorize the questions thinking that these will appear in the actual exam. haha

2.Go to the Exam Center at least an hour early with your books, index and exam permit.

Research very well about the Exam Center where you will be taking your exam. Check the online forum and see what people say about the exam center. Remember, that’s where you will be taking the $1,000 USD exam! It has to be able to provide the best environment for you that day. I have been taking my exam in TrendsNet in Makati. The building is already old and the elevators are slow but the exam center is newly renovated. The exam rooms are comfortable, quiet and clean. There’s no parking area so whenever I take the exam, it’s either I take a taxi, Uber or park the car in the mall. The staff is very accommodating and friendly. They are familiar how to handle GIAC exams.

You need to be in the Exam Center early because they are strict with the time slots you have reserved to. It is better to be early than late. They won’t allow you to take the exam if you’re late and you  need to pay a penalty of around $150.

It pays to be early because it will give you time to relax and take time to go to the restroom and do your last minute preparations. The exam center will also permit you to take the exam early if there are free slots that time.

1.Pray hard and find time to relax.

I’m not religious but I find time to pray, talk to God and ask for guidance. Praying gives me a positive vibe. I also find time to relax after a study time like having a massage, eating ice cream etc. haha These small things help me take things positively. Praying and relaxing surely helped me in passing the exam.

These are some of the things that you can do to prepare for the exam.I hope these tips will help!

Good luck for those who are studying/ will be taking the exam soon.

For those who have taken the exam, what are your exam preparation tips? 🙂

7 reasons why you should take up a Master’s degree

I’m currently preparing for my final term for my Master in Information Systems (MIS) degree. It’s a short break from the stress in school. Looking at what I’ve learned and accomplished so far, I would like to share my top 7 reasons why you should take up a Master’s degree. (I’m not going to discuss what course to take or which school should you go to. That will be in a another blog post. 🙂 )

7. You will meet new friends.

They say that in grad school, having 10 students in a class is already big. In the class, there will be mixed types of people- from young professionals to management-level to self-employed individuals. There will also be returnees or transferees who will join the class. Since a lot of them will be your classmates for a couple of terms, you spend a lot of time with them during and after class.

And you will be friends with them in no time similar to your college experience! This time, you won’t be limited to your age group. You can be a young professional and make friends with a senior manager or even a mother. And that’s fine. 🙂

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Our Managerial Accounting class.
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My consistent group mates hehe

6. It’s a requirement for you to be able to teach in the Philippines.

It’s a plain and simple requirement in the Philippines. I cannot argue and elaborate more on that. I will write another post about to pros and cons about the vertical articulation by Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Anyway for now, getting a master’s degree will make you qualified to teach.

I just have to put my disclaimer right away that I know a lot of people who have graduate degrees but incompetent in their fields (and/or don’t possess the teaching hand). I’m sorry I just have to say it because there are still a lot who pursue the degree for the “title” and “compliance.”

5. You can build your network of professionals that can help you in your career.

One of my professors in the grad school said that with the variety of students who enroll in the class, he can already build a company with all of us have different roles.I agree with him. Your classmates come from different industries and fields. You can help each other out at work. I have classmates who are in banking, government, project management, academe etc. They can help you look for a job or do your job well. haha

My professors helped me link to some consulting opportunities which I won’t be able to find had I not enrolled in grad school. The world in the corporate is quite enclosed that’s why you need an outlet to spread the network.

 4. You get to learn from experiences rather than plain textbooks.

More than the degree, one of the main reasons why I enrolled in grad school is to listen to my classmates and professors’ stories- experiences in work that helped them succeed or even led them to failure. I can read books or Google stuff or even watch tutorials in You Tube. But to listen to the experiences is something you’ll only get if you’re in class.

3. You have something to look forward after your routinary work.

You will have classmates who still slack in some instances and those who are teacher’s pets. haha There are also those who study in advance and submit the deliverable very early. You’ll have classmates who don’t  have anything to submit too! haha In any case, attending the class is something you will look forward after a week of work. For some, attending a class is a challenge. For others, it is a stress reliever.

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The class organized a KTV Christmas Party

2. You can get promoted at work after you graduate.

Not an assurance though. In the government, some posts require a Master’s degree to lead a division or a department. In the academe, you can get a higher rank.

In the private sector, I’ve observed some seasoned managers have master’s degrees. Most of them have MBA’s.

1. You learn something new.

Sounds clichĂ© but that’s the truth. You will have classmates who will take the class just to pass and earn a degree. But majority of my classmates attend class to learn something new. I’m not a project manager. I have no project management experience but I am learning now (the hard way haha) for our capstone. I need to sell an IT business idea and make sure that I will gain profit. I learned different IS Policy frameworks and how to use them even if I’m not a manager. And I learned so much more…

Here’s one of the learning logs I wrote in our Human Capital Management class.

If you think these reasons are what you’re looking, then enroll now!

I’m not advertising any school.haha  Just encouraging… 🙂

 

 

 

Presented at the 14th NCITE and toured Dipolog City 2016

It was my first time to submit a research paper in a national conference. In the academe, getting support is a challenging task because you need to convince the admin that the paper you will be presenting is worth the expenses.

I’m happy that my boss, the dean of the school was supportive of this initiative. The research was about how to detect anonymous traffic within a local area network (LAN) using different patterns. You can read my paper here and here.

I submitted the paper twice because of the recommendations given by the reviewers. Overall, the paper got a good rating and was given a go signal for presentation.

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Before presenting… Didn’t expect that the PM session will be moved in the auditorium!
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While presenting…
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With my students and co-authors, Aliana Lachica and Wisdom Abinal; my supportive fiancee, Ashley beside me
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With my former professor in PLM, Dr. Neil Balba, who was the session facilitator

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The travel time from Manila to Dipolog is around 50 minutes. I stayed in Hotel Camila 1 which is 15 minutes away from the airport. Most of the hotels provide a service from the airport to their place.

The hotel I stayed in was modest but it had the basic amenities in a usual hotel. For the 3 nights I stayed, I only paid around 3,300 pesos, although I had to buy breakfast on my own.

Dipolog is generally safe. The city is not yet fully developed and the mode of commute around the place is through tricycles. I was surprised because majority of the time that I was in the hotel, a lot of the people there were carrying guns. Some of them were in military uniform while others were not.

There were a couple of times too that we (Ashley and I) felt that somebody was following us. That’s why I advise those who plan to visit to remain vigilant and alert always.

The tricycle drivers, waiters and waitresses, vendors, receptionists and majority of those I interacted with were helpful and hospitable. We were able to walk around the famous boardwalk at the Sunset Blvd. and had food trips in different restaurants/cafe such as D’Hotel and Chapters A Book Cafe. One notable thing with their food is that it is cheap but with quality.

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From the airport
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At Sunset Blvd.
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Selfie with Ashley en route to the Dipolog airport c/o Hotel Camila’s service
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One of Dipolog’s Modern malls. 🙂 
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Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral

Detecting Command and Control Traffic Using Botnet Correlator Module

Last June 8, 2015, I presented a paper entitled “Detecting Command and Control Traffic Using Botnet Correlator Module” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The paper was a product of a project in APC together with my students in INFOSEC. The trip was entirely sponsored by the school (thank you so much!) and the experience was very unforgettable.

Going to Kuala Lumpur

I rode a Cebu Pacific plane going to Malaysia last Jun 7 in NAIA Terminal 3. As usual, the airport was jampacked with people. The flight was around 4 hours long and arrived at the KLIA2. I then rode an express train (20-minute train) going to the downtown KL.

I met my former officemate in the Philippines who is already working in KL. He toured me around KL (Petronas, Jalon Alor) and brought me to the hotel, Melia Hotel.

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With Ashley Dy in front of the Petronas Towers (thanks Alfred for the picture)

Conference Day

It’s a good thing that the school booked in the hotel where the conference will be held. The parallel sessions started at 8am. It was my first time to present in an international conference and I was very nervous. The presenters were mostly Muslims coming from Malaysia, Indonesia, India other neighboring countries. The participants were very friendly and excited too. I met 2 other professors from the Philippines, Terry from UP-Diliman and Marylene from MUST in Mindanao.

With Terry from UP-Diliman (leftmost ) and Ederlyn from MUST (2nd from the right) after the presentation.
With Terry from UP-Diliman (leftmost ) and Ederlyn from MUST (2nd from the right) after the presentation.

I attended and listened to the keynote presentation of Dr. Rozhan Mohammed Idrus who discussed about “IT Education and Its Impact to the Society.” He coined the term, “technogogy” which means blending in of technology to the teaching pedagogy. In essence, Dr. Idrus pointed out that teachers and the curriculum must be able to adapt with the technological advances in today’s world.

My presentation was scheduled in the afternoon. The paper is an applied research on how to detect Botnet traffic in a Local Area Network (LAN) using Snort and aggregated reputable Botnet sources.

The presentation lasted for 10 minutes. The PDF presentation can be found in this link: BCM_Presentation.

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I went to fetch my girl friend in Pavillion Mall and ate dinner there. We rode Uber going to another mall outside KL called Publika.

Last day in KL, walking around the city

Our third and last day in Malaysia was spent in touring around the city by foot. We went to Mydin, where wholesale products are sold. We bought a lot of Cadburry and other chocolates.The place was not very classy thought. We walked to Low Yat, a technology/gadgets mall. We then walked to the KLCC area and visited Kinokuniya. We checked out then rode Uber to the train station going to KLIA2.

Uber ride to Ritz Carlton
Uber ride to Ritz Carlton

Over-all experience

I heard a lot of negative stories in Malaysia (dangerous at night, a lot of street clubs, ill-mannered taxi drivers, snatchers riding motorcycles etc.) but I haven’t experienced those stories. Maybe they have already changed? Or I’m just used to living with a similar environment in the Philippines? I don’t know. The experience was great. Their express train is very convenient and spacious. The establishments offer items both expensive and cheap depending on your budget.

Infosec books at Kinokuniya
Infosec books at Kinokuniya

Since I did not want to experience the horror stories in the taxi, I always used Uber for the transpo around the area. Malaysia has more Uber cars compared to the Philippines.

In terms of value for money, I can say your money has a big value in their country.