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Keith Jones: Leading the Way in Computer Security

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As senior partner and co-owner of Jones, Rose, Dykstra & Associates (JRD), a specialized services company providing a variety of technical, legal, and training services to federal clients and private businesses, Keith Jones is establishing himself as one of the industry’s leading computer security experts. With over a decade of experience in computer forensics, information security consulting, and software analysis, he is the go-to-guy for all of the latest technical security practices and innovations. Beyond that, he has branched out as a successful entrepreneur and author whose impact is registering beyond the usual confines of the technology industry.

Jones affirms that what drew him to the field of technology security was his lifelong interest in problem-solving, a necessary skill indeed when it comes to the frequently unknown and challenging field of information security. His formal training began as an undergraduate at Michigan State University, where he obtained two bachelor's degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

He further bolstered his credentials by earning a master's of science degree in Electrical Engineering, also from MSU, and by earning his Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. He is also an associate member of the American Bar Association and belongs to several engineering and mathematical honor societies.

While at MSU, Jones worked at the School of Criminal Justice, which exposed him to the growing problem of computer crime. This initial exposure to what was sure to become a widespread source of workplace distress compelled him to pursue a career in computer security, which he began after earning his master's and heading east to Maryland, where he immersed himself in the computer forensics and security industries.

"After I finished my graduate degree, I went to work for a company in Maryland that was developing computer security and computer forensics software," he recalls. The company also investigated computer crime, and I was able to assist other staff on those investigations."

From there, he moved on to positions of increased responsibility with new companies looking to capitalize on what was then the technology revolution.

"After the first company, I worked at a small biotech company as their head computer security manager. I then moved to a consulting company named Foundstone (now part of McAfee). I enjoyed working as a consultant because I got to see the inner workings of several larger companies while I was there. After Foundstone, I worked at a company named Red Cliff Consulting, which mainly specialized in reactive computer security."

Ultimately, Jones and his partners, Curtis Rose and Brian Dykstra, decided to pool their vision and talents together to establish their own security services company. "At the beginning of this year, we started our own company named Jones, Rose, Dykstra & Associates that is strictly a services company providing service to numerous clients, large and small, in the computer security and investigation industry."

Of course, being so heavily involved with security raises its own unique professional and personal issues, making demands on experts not typical of other specialties in the technology field. Despite what might be considered an additional burden, these added responsibilities have been the source of some of Jones's most memorable professional experiences.

"My most memorable experiences in my career would have to be from providing expert testimony. I gave expert testimony in the Federal criminal trial, U.S. v. Duronio, in which the defendant destroyed the computers inside UBS in order to personally profit. I was on the witness stand for five days as the government's expert witness, and I pieced together every action of the defendant during the crime that ultimately led him to a guilty verdict. The defendant received the maximum sentence of more than eight years. It was amazing to be an influence in our justice system."

In addition to his hands-on work in computer security, Jones has also authored two security-themed books: Real Digital Forensics: Computer Security and Incident Response (2005) and Anti-Hacker Tool Kit (2002). He also served as a technical editor of Incident Response: Investigating Computer Crime (2003) and as a contributing author of Hacker's Challenge (2001).

"I always tried to do the best I could do without the guidance of a mentor," Jone says. Despite the fact that Jones's multilateral success has been the result of his own instincts, his advice to aspiring tech professionals is to likewise look inward before trying to make their career ambitions a reality.

"To young professionals in the computer security and computer forensic careers, I recommend not only reading anything you can get your hands on, but also practicing what you learn. Many educational sources exist which tell you how to do the job, but it is up to you to actually practice and understand what you are doing. I also recommend that you question everything; do not just take someone's word for it. The most successful people I have met are naturally curious about how things work."

Q. What do you do for fun?
I love to hunt, camp, fish, and spend time with my kids.

Q. What CD is in your CD player right now?
CDs? I haven't needed one of those in a while. I usually have my satellite radio tuned into some form of techno music or old school rap.

Q. What was the last magazine you read?

Q. What is your favorite TV show?
Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe and Survivorman with Les Stroud

Q. Who is your role model?
My business partner Brian Dykstra. He can just work forever without breaking a sweat.

Q. What makes you laugh?
My kids. All of the time!

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