May 12, 2020

Metis Grad Using Bootcamp Skills to Stop Financial Hackers

Leon Rosenstein’s current role as the Vice President of Information Security Analytics at BNY Mellon is complex but built upon a central mission. The goal of his role is to find creative ways to stop online security threats by building and running models that detect abnormalities. Or, as he likes to put it, designing machine learning algorithms to “keep bad people from doing bad things.”

In large part, he was drawn to this role – and has a long history of online security-related roles – because he has a hacker’s intuition.

“Hacking requires a lot of creative thinking and looking at corner cases for problems,” he said. In Hacking, the term “corner case” refers to a problem or situation that occurs only outside of normal operating parameters. Hackers, and those who combat against hacking pay close attention to corner cases.

Naturally, Leon’s primary working goal is to stay one step ahead of those seeking to do harm. He utilizes both offensive and defensive thinking, which he’s been able to do throughout his career.

“Security is naturally a reactive process. The problem is what they call the Superman paradox.” When describing the “Superman paradox”, Leon says that while Superman “has to save the world every time, his enemies only have to get it right once. Same with hacking. It’s a lot of solving puzzles and trying to out-think the enemy. It’s super fun and dynamic in a constantly-changing field.”

Leon has had a front-row seat for many of these changes extending back to the late 90s. After dropping out of college during his last semester, he needed a job. Being good with computers, he landed a position at a help desk, where he became interested in security. He started learning more about it and was eventually able to identify security flaws in the company’s network.

As time went on, Leon built a career around threat hunting, deploying security technology, security engineering, and threat and vulnerability assessment. In his career, he has worked as a Senior Security Engineer at Citi Bank and a Senior Security Consultant at Deutsche Bank, among other roles.

After gaining extensive experience, by 2010, it was time for a change. Leon jumped into the world of entrepreneurship, starting a marketing analytics company. His goal was to not only switch careers, but have an opportunity to work for himself. At the time, he also wanted to move to Colombia and felt it would be logical to work for himself while abroad.

Years later, while working on a project alongside a data scientist, he found himself craving a change. Curiosity, combined with the desire to apply his data science skills to his business ventures, pushed Leon to adapt.

“I thought if I was going to make the business work, I really had to understand it,” he said. “I started teaching myself and when I realized all the inefficiencies in that, I started looking for professional help.”

He found his way to Metis, first taking the part-time Introduction to Data Science online course, which doubles as bootcamp preparation, then becoming fully immersed as a bootcamp student. The Intro course helped him get up to speed on certain concepts and skills that would allow him to start the bootcamp off with a stronger foundation.

During the bootcamp, he felt himself gravitating back toward security, and gaining a renewed interest in applying his expanding skill set to online security-related issues. For his final project, he chose to build an intrusion detection system using artificial intelligence.

When describing his bootcamp experience, Leon shared; “Metis was a game-changer for me in terms of working with lots of security data. Everything from learning proper EDA, to how to do analysis, to even presenting results, has been super helpful for me every step of the way. I think to really understand a problem you need to understand both the domain and the data. I had the former and Metis provided me with the latter.”

Upon graduation, Leon sought out roles that would allow him back into the security realm, where he could use his new skill set and knowledge to keep companies and their clients as safe as possible from hacking threats. At BNY Mellon, he’s been able to do just that.

“I think life is very short,” said Leon. “So it’s cool that I get a chance to make a difference doing something I love.”


This post was sponsored by Metis. To learn more about Metis, visit thisismetis.com or check out their reviews on SwitchUp.

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