Behind the scenes: data science meets cybersecurity


Featuring a computer-savvy kid and Cold War intrigue, the 1980s movie War Games inspired more than one generation of STEM graduates. Sean Dyer is one Gen X’er who credits the movie for sending him on a path to where he is today as a cybersecurity data scientist.

As the fog lifts in San Francisco on February 29, SAS will join tens of thousands of information and network security professionals for the 2016 RSA Conference. While we gear up for our second year of participation at RSA, it seems appropriate to get to know some of the SAS experts like Sean that are changing the way this $77 billion market looks at analytics.

In a few brief minutes of listening to Sean talk about data science, I could feel his passion and excitement for his work. Catch a glimpse of how Sean’s contributions offer a continuous picture of the most serious threats to our customers’ data.

Sean Dyer
Outside of SAS, Sean Dyer spends time working on Software Defined Radio projects with his amateur radio license. He also enjoys hiking with his wife and looks forward to an upcoming vacation to Ireland.

Sean’s background
I’m a life-long SAS user, starting with learning to code in graduate school at Southern Illinois University. After a lot of data and analysis, I figured out I couldn’t crack the lottery code. True story. So I took my love of problem solving and began working in statistics for insurance and later defense contracting. The opportunity to work for SAS in the advanced analytics team was a natural career progression and I’ve been here since.

Why cyberanalytics?
I’d like to think that the seed of my interest in cybersecurity was sewn with the movie WarGames. When working with the SAS Federal Government team, I had the opportunity to dream with some of my colleagues about what was possible using analytics for defending the US against hackers. We gave a blue-sky style presentation at a national labs’ IT conference on how analytics could solve growing security problems. When we finished the presentation, there were a line of customers that wanted to talk. That kind of encouragement from the people that do this work every day fueled a fire that eventually led us to develop SAS® Cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity trends
Right now, scalability is a big challenge. It’s not so difficult to analyze network and security data from a single point in time for a small network environment. But when you scale up to the enterprise level, conventional analytic techniques simply won’t work. We’re working with enormous amounts of streaming data and on top of it, there are a lot of unknowns.

Most security analysts believe that any enterprise network is already compromised. With detection taking months and new exposures happening all the time, the threats are significant. Our advanced analytics solution doesn’t make assumptions about how the bad guys will behave. We’re looking at everything and offering continuous visibility to allow customers to mitigate against those threats.

We may not be talking War Games but plan to network with us at Booth 4234 at the RSA Conference. Come chat with Sean and the rest of the SAS team at CyberAnalytics Happy Hour, February 29 from 5-7 pm and March 1 from 4-6 PM.


About Author

Amanda MacDowell

Marketing Strategist

Amanda leads strategy development and execution for integrated marketing programs focused on key initiatives at SAS. Her experience spans more than 12 years of marketing program management, digital campaign strategy, and content planning for contract research and life sciences companies. In the office, you’ll find Amanda doing what she does best – organizing and communicating. With a strong mix of project management and strategic marketing skills, she’s looking at the big picture to create and execute campaigns that generate results. She has a passion for writing, a need for order and the willingness to bring a group of people together to accomplish a goal on time and on budget. Outside of the office, you’ll find a woman with Southern roots that’s always on-the-go with her family. She’s passionate about community outreach and orphan advocacy, cheering on her alma mater under cloudless skies of Carolina blue and spending time outdoors. She enjoys travel, running, cooking and a glass of wine on the porch in the evenings. Amanda holds a bachelor of arts in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

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