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It's currently Jan 1, 2024. The ball just dropped. The kids are having a sleepover so they are not sleeping. Since they are not sleeping, neither am I. Might as well get some edits in.

Happy New Year Everyone!!

The Wolf Gets Even

Once upon a time in Cyberspace, the three little pigs were settling down for the night. It had been a long time since they had any problems from the wolf, and they were starting to forget about the danger he once posed to them. As long as they were in the house made of brick, they felt safe from any danger. The house was equipped with state of the art monitoring and surveillance. The pigs could lock and unlock the doors remotely, see who was at the door without even leaving the couch with their video doorbell, and see every inch of the perimeter with cameras all over the house. They felt extremely comfortable with their defenses.

The wolf, however, was still brooding over his earlier defeat and vowed to get even. He knew he could not defeat the physical defenses of the brick house, so he devised a new plan to gain access to the pigs. He decided to do some OSINT research on the them. (Open-Source Intelligence) research refers to the process of collecting and analyzing publicly available information from various sources, such as the internet, social media, and public records, to gather intelligence and insights about individuals, organizations, or events. He conducted external scans of their network, he dug through their trash, googled them, and stalked their social media profiles. It was here he found out that Piggie3 liked to post pictures of cats on her InstaTikFace social media profile.

The wolf, being a cunning and tech-savvy predator, recognized the power of information in the digital age. Armed with this newfound knowledge about Piggie3's interests, he hatched a plan to exploit it. He knew that the pigs' sense of security was rooted in their advanced technology and that they might let their guard down if they believed there was no immediate threat. So he stayed out of sight while he enacted his plan. "Those pigs would never see this coming!", he thought.

The wolf created a fake social media account, posing as a fellow cat enthusiast. He began engaging with the pig's cat posts, liking and commenting on them, gradually building a virtual friendship. Piggie3, not suspecting any danger, happily accepted the wolf's friend request and engaged in conversations about their shared love for cats. Over time, the wolf carefully steered the conversations towards personal details, subtly gathering information about the pig's routines and habits. He learned about the pig's favorite time to check his social media, her daily schedule, and even her upcoming plans. One day, as the wolf was chatting with the pig, he noticed a post mentioning that she was planning to have a big party at the brick house the following evening. The wolf couldn't believe his luck. He had just stumbled upon the perfect opportunity to strike. With this newfound information, the wolf decided to use social engineering to bypass the pigs' high-tech security measures. Using his fake InstaTikFace profile @hereKitty1, he reached out to the Piggie3 and asked if he could bring a very special and rare breed of cat to the party, claiming it would be a surprise gift for the host. Piggie3 unsuspecting of her new friend and flattered by the offer, gladly accepted.

The next evening, as the Piggie3 and her guests were enjoying the party inside the seemingly impenetrable brick house, the wolf would arrive carrying a very "special" cat. As soon as the door was opened to let him in, the wolf would spring into action. He would conceal a small hacking device capable of disabling the house's security systems temporarily. While the partygoers were distracted by the "special" cat, the wolf would activate the device, causing a brief blackout in the house's surveillance and security systems.

The wolf's cunning plan paid off. As he arrived at the pigs' party with the "special" cat, the door opened to welcome him inside. The pigs, trusting their advanced security systems, momentarily had let their guard down. With the flick of a switch on his hacking device, the wolf exploited a vulnerability in the house's security software, disabling all surveillance and locking mechanisms. Seizing the opportunity, he lunged forward and made a desperate attempt to breach the brick walls. The pigs, startled by the blackout, were unable to react quickly enough and failed to reinforced their defenses.

Once inside, the wolf didn't harm the pigs but instead gave them a stern lecture on the importance of cybersecurity. He reminded them of their successes in their previous engagement before their tech impementation and on how they were not as sharp as they used to be. He had a much harder time gaining access to the facility before they started relying soley on technology to keep them safe. The pigs listened intently, realizing the gravity of their mistake.

The wolf went on to provide a detailed report of the vulnerabilities he had discovered during the exercise. He explained how their overreliance on technology and their tendency to share personal information online had made them vulnerable. The pigs were grateful for the wake-up call and the opportunity to strengthen their security measures. With the guidance of the wolf's vulnerability report, the pigs began to patch their vulnerabilities, fortify their digital and physical defenses, as well as implement best practices for cybersecurity. They knew that ongoing security assessments and proactive measures were crucial to staying safe in the modern age of Cyberspace.

After the post-mortem was concluded the pigs made the check out to LoneWolf PenTesters and the wolf took his leave. The pigs worked on remediating the remaining issues found during their pentest engagement.
The score was now 1 to 1. They'd be ready for the wolf the next time.
In the end, the pigs and the wolf shared a sense of accomplishment, knowing that the successful penetration test had ultimately strengthened their security posture.

2024 Updates

I am DJames617, AKA Ne'er-Do-Well nerd. Welcome to NerdDual.
It's currently winter vacation time and the kids are home from school. The story I wrote above is a way for me to remember some of the things I just learned, practice building webpages, and entertain the kids at the same time. The kids liked the story, I hope you do too.
Where I grew up, people with degrees are uncommon, so a lot of people don't even think about asking where you studied. They just assume you didn't. -  It is true that ignorance is bliss.
I don't live there anymore. Today I live right next to a university, and alot more of the people I interact with have at least a bachelors degree now. The bubble of ignorance I grew up in has been irreversibly burst. I work with some really smart people. It was embarrassing to admit that I didn't have a degree, but I knew that it was something I could and must correct. I started my studies at WGU in May of 2022. I took and passed 35 courses along the way. Some of them were easy, some of them very difficult. One thing I noticed though is that the easy classes were only easy because I had been using the technology they were teaching for over 20 years.

I had a GED when I started my classes, but I wanted that degree badly so I dedicated all my free time for the last year and a half to getting it. High School didn't work out the way I wanted since I was a teenage parent. I did what I had to do in order to raise my kids in an unforgiving environment, so I skipped college and went directly to work. It took me 17 months to complete all the classes.
Some people have said that it could not have been that hard if I was able to do it so fast. To those people I say, read the above. For almost a year and a half I've been at my desk studying. While my family was out having fun, I stayed home and studied. When everyone else in the house was asleep, I was writing a paper. I was taking test when everyone else was at the movies. I made sacrifices to complete my degree in the timeframe I did. I have a family that supported my efforts. It took that perfect storm of events for us to do it.

If I were trying to become an accountant or change my career to a new field I would still be studying. I think of it this way, if you ask a cab driver to get a degree in driving they will do it a lot faster than a pedestrian that doesn't have a driver's license yet. I didn't spend time in classes that I could pass right away.

I've had some of the CompTia certs for a long time. Getting them again was not as challenging for me as it would be for someone who is learning these concepts for the first time. My first operating system was DOS 6. I use Linux as a daily driver. I dabble in websites. I like to play with networks. I've been building computers for what seems like a lifetime.

My first set of COMPTia certs (A+, Network+, and Security+) are lifetime and don't expire. They also did not count for credit at WGU. When I had to take another A+ course I was a bit annoyed. Then I realized that passing this class would get me closer to the degree. It got much easier after that realization. I now have 2 sets of CompTia certs, but I only have to renew one. WGU is a great school for people who have expierience and need a degree. You set the schedule. Take classes when you have the time, live your life the rest of it.

If you are new to IT (i.e., you've been an accountant and want to transfer into IT) in general it can be done, but it's going to be a much heavier lift for you. I wouldn't count on finishing in 17 months, but it can be done.

If you need hand holding in order to learn, WGU is probably not going to work well for you. I found they don't really teach as much as they evaluate. It is based on the compentency model where you show what you know. You only spend time learning things you can't test out of. Why spend time in a class that you can pass right away?
Now that I've accomplished the degree, I'm focused on honing the skills I've obtained to a knife's edge. I did the same thing in my role as a desktop support technician. Now my efforts are focused on cybersecurity.

IT Certifications obtained

Certification Issued by: Badge Requirements Validity Period Online Testing Difficulty
Linux Essentials Pass the CompTia Security+ Exam offered by Pearson Lifetime Yes
AWS CCP Pass the AWS CCP Exam offered by Pearson 2 Years yes
ITIL 4 Foundation Pass the ITIL 4 Foundation Exam offered by PeopleCert 3 Years Yes
A+ Pass the CompTia A+ Exam offered by Pearson 3 Years Yes
Network + Pass the CompTia Network+ Exam offered by Pearson 3 Years Yes
Security+ Pass the CompTia Security+ Exam offered by Pearson 3 Years Yes
PenTest+ Pass the CompTia PenTest+ Exam offered by Pearson 3 Years Yes
CySA+ Pass the CompTia CySA+ Exam offered by Pearson 3 Years Yes
Project+ Pass the CompTia Project+ Exam offered by Pearson 3 Years Yes
SSCP Pass the ISC2 SSCP Exam offered by Pearson 3 Years No