AT COMMUTEAIR, WE HAVE GREAT PEOPLE WITH GREAT STORIES TO SHARE.
Meet Steven Larizza, our Director of IT Security! Steven is a passionate security & IT professional who joined the CommuteAir family this year. With experience ranging from computer programming to working with nuclear reactors in the Navy – What better time to sit down and hear how he got into aviation than “Cyber Security Awareness Month?”
Describe your journey to becoming a Director of IT Security.
My interest in cybersecurity all started back when I was 12 years old and got my AOL account banned. At 12 you don’t really understand that there are “Terms of Service” and I found some exciting programs that would allow me to change font colors or push a button to make everyone disappear from the chatroom and I thought that was pretty fun until I had to have a conversation with my parents about why I wasn’t allowed online anymore! I kind of started out on the dark side before heading down the path of cybersecurity! I’ve always been interested in computers. I built and formatted my first computer when I was 13 and was building server clusters at age 15 with my friends on my dad’s kitchen table. So, it has always been what I knew that I was going to do even though the subset of it has changed over the years – Computer Science, networking, application development and finally, cybersecurity.
What do you do at C5?
Working at an airline is a little different from my perspective than most of our employees who operate on the line and fly our jets or fix them. Working in cybersecurity in the aviation sector means I’m coming from a place of, “How do I protect our airline online? What aviation-related threats exist in the digital world that we need to be aware of?” I work with a bunch of highly qualified people at CommuteAir and it’s great to be part of a team like that. Our company handles a lot of sensitive information, and our job is to protect that information from bad actors. Aviation impacts people’s lives in ways that other industries just don’t: Connecting people so they can go see their families during holidays or for other sentimental reasons are very important human activities that make up a fundamental part of our lives. Aviation is a resource and an asset that deserves to be protected.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month – Any security tips for our readers?
Maintain Strong Password Hygiene: Pass phrases are easier to remember and are more secure than a short but complex password. These should be at least 16 characters long but don’t have to be as complex (so no special characters required). Regularly updating passwords, using MFA, using unique passwords across multiple accounts, and using a secure password manager are all good practices.
Heighten Phishing and Social Engineering Awareness: Be cautious of suspicious emails, text messages, and phone calls. Verify the source before sharing sensitive information and refrain from clicking on unfamiliar links or downloading attachments from untrusted sources. Verify the “From” address in every email!
Prioritize Updates: If your computer asks you to update…you should do it right away! Outdated software can create vulnerabilities that malicious actors exploit.
Secure Network Connections: Be vigilant while connecting to public Wi-Fi networks (especially in airports). Avoid transmitting sensitive data while on an untrusted network.
What advice would you share based on your experience?
The path forward is not always clear-cut. Sometimes you get to your destination by taking a path that somebody else didn’t. And that’s OK! I earned more than a handful of different certifications and skills before I found my passion (including doing time on a submarine in the Navy!). Along the way, you might have a lot of naysayers – Don’t listen to the people who want to derail or deride you from the sidelines, there are always multiple solutions to success in life!
Pictured Below: Steven with colleagues in Washington DC