Rising Star Alma Ritter Cole

Alma ColeName: Alma Ritter Cole

Age: 31

Organization: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Department

Title: Lead, Cyber Security and Focused Operations, DHS Security Operations Center (SOC)

Nominated for: Leading the response to the Adobe Reader JBIG2 vulnerability. Led a team that identified and tracked multiple spear-phishing e-mail messages that attempted to exploit this vulnerability, and tackled other so-called zero-day security threats — those flaws for which no fixes are available.

First IT mentor: Patricia Butera, who entrusted me with significant responsibilities and provided me with unique opportunities that allowed me to rise to the occasion. She has also taught me the importance of having a clear vision and communicating that vision to internal and external stakeholders.

Latest accomplishment: By focusing on interagency information sharing about cyber threats that affect DHS and other federal agencies, the mean time to detect and remediate incidents has been significantly reduced, decreasing exposure to DHS information. These efforts have greatly enhanced the situational awareness for DHS executive management and have significantly improved its cybersecurity posture.

Career highlight: Collaborated with component SOCs and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team to ensure DHS systems were protected from the Conficker worm, which was scheduled to alter its command and control technique on April 1. Because of this proactive action, DHS only observed one Conficker infection for every 100,000 DHS systems. Similar proactive efforts were undertaken to effectively protect DHS against Agent.BTZ threats.

Favorite bookmark: theregister.co.uk/security

Dream non-IT-related job: SWAT team.


Read a full profile of Alma Ritter Cole on GCN.
The annual Rising Star awards are presented by the 1105 Government Information Group, publisher of Federal Computer Week, GCN and Washington Technology,  to public and private sector employees in the federal IT community who have gone above and beyond their job descriptions to make a lasting impact in their organization. See all the 2009 Rising Star award winners.

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