Internship Highlight: Emily Davies’ Experience at Cisco Talos

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As we approach the summer of 2024, many college students are gearing up for their upcoming internships. For those interested in cybersecurity, the ACES (Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students) program at the University of Maryland offers a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience through its partnership with various companies and organizations.

Emily Davies is a sophomore computer science major from Ellicott City, Maryland, and is part of the ACES Living Learning Program. Aside from academics, She enjoys reading and listening to 90s rock, with Radiohead as her favorite band, and dreams of publishing a book one day. She completed her internship as a Security Research Intern at Cisco Talos Intelligence Group last year and has shared her experience with us.


 Discovering Cybersecurity through ACES

Emily's interest in cybersecurity, specifically threat intelligence, was sparked after listening to true crime podcasts on cyberattacks. "Then I came to college and entered the ACES program, and my interest only grew from there." 

She found this opportunity through ACES and its partnership with Cisco Talos and eagerly applied as it focused on her area of interest. "Threat intelligence is intriguing because it is almost like being a detective, except you are looking for clues in cyberspace." 


A Day in Emily's Cybersecurity Internship

During her internship, Emily shadowed members of the threat intelligence team, focusing on getting exposure to different specializations within defensive security. She described her experience as "almost like being a detective, except you are looking for clues in cyberspace."

Working from home, Emily's day starts with coffee and checking messages. Meetings fill her schedule, followed by diving into tasks and soaking in as much knowledge as possible.


 Highlights: Learning Binary Exploitation

One of Emily's favorite parts of her internship was learning about binary exploitation, a hacking method where you intentionally corrupt memory to redirect program execution. "I appreciated that this helped me think about the runtime stack, memory, assembly language, and C from a different angle," she said. "Also, it was interesting to get into the mindset of a threat actor that way."


 Teamwork and Learning

Networking with colleagues and other employees is a priority for Emily as it adds depth to her learning, especially in malware analysis. Throughout her internship, Emily had the opportunity to learn from employees within Talos and people from different teams. "I have prioritized networking to get as much exposure as possible to other specializations, such as malware analysis," she said. Being reserved, networking was initially challenging for Emily. However, pushing through revealed that experienced colleagues were happy to guide her, leading to personal growth.

ACES Preparation in Action

The skills gained from ACES proved crucial in Emily's daily tasks. Emily also noted that the skills and knowledge she gained through the ACES program applied to her work at Cisco Talos. "The knowledge of networking, basic cybersecurity concepts, and Linux commands has come in extremely useful in my internship," she said.


 Future Goals: Considering a Career in Cybersecurity

While Emily's future goals are not set, a career in cybersecurity is a strong contender. Her summer internship has helped her explore potential career paths. "This internship is proving extremely useful for giving me a glimpse of what a career in this field would be like and what kind of things I'd be doing in my career," she shared.


 Proactive Approach: Key to Internship Success

To fellow students eyeing a cybersecurity internship, Emily advises being proactive. "Try to make the most of the opportunity and learn as much as possible from as many people as possible," she advised.

Overall, Emily's experience at Cisco Talos was a valuable learning opportunity, providing her with exposure to various specializations within defensive security and helping to solidify her knowledge of low-level programming, threat intelligence, and responding to cybersecurity incidents.


Emily's internship journey is a simple yet powerful example of the impact of internships and ACES in shaping future leaders in the cybersecurity field.

Published March 1, 2024