Karim Chahal

Karim Chahal

2015 Software & System Security Major graduate

Why did you choose to specialise in cybersecurity?

My uncle was a systems administrator for a bank and when I was small, he introduced me to the world of computers. I was instantly hooked and then I really discovered the world of cybersecurity when I was at university.

I used to surf the net a lot and that’s how I found out about viruses and cracking and started to take part in mini online challenges – it was then that I realised that I wanted to study IT so I applied for an IT degree with ISTIC.

During my studies, and especially during my IT degree, a friend in my year was really into IT security and I thought, why not do security too? So, in my fourth year, I specialised in Systems & Networks and then in my fifth year my specialised subject was Security and IT Systems – this is the same as the former Master’s which is now called the Master’s in Computer Science, Cybersecurity track.

The highly technical and challenging aspect of cybersecurity interested and fascinated me and that’s still the case today.

What were the highlights of your studies?

There were many key moments during my studies and one of them was the privacy course in the final year of my Master’s. The teacher was great and the case studies and practicals really helped me to understand the importance of privacy in our daily lives, and it’s still a hot topic today.

Another memorable moment was the hardware architecture course in my 3rd year: it was fascinating and taught us about the incredible changes in computers and new technologies in general.

What were the advantages of your internship?

I did my Master’s 2 internship with TazTag, mobile security solution specialists, in Bruz, south Rennes. My internship was based on R&D and mainly focused on developing an Android terminal app (smartphones and tablets) to create one-time passwords (OTP).

The internship helped me to develop my knowledge of security and, more specifically, multi-factor authentication. I learned about developing apps for Android smartphones and JavaCard app development for smart cards. I also learned how to adapt to a project which was already underway.

What is your current job?

I now work as a Cybersecurity Engineer with Kereval, a software test engineering laboratory, in Thorigné-Fouillard, east Rennes.

I work on a range of areas, from automobile cybersecurity and embedded systems (software and hardware security audits), to air traffic control (I started in this department in Kereval) and more regular tasks such as intrusion audits, mostly web and information system oriented, for various customers.

I work closely with Kereval’s sales team – I write sales proposals and also take part in Kereval’s on-going strategy to improve security.

Was it easy to find employment?

The cybersecurity job market in Rennes is growing rapidly and there are many opportunities out there. I didn’t have any problems finding a job quickly. I decided to stay in Rennes, simply because I’m happy here and life is good in Rennes.

Why are you so enthusiastic about cybersecurity?

What I like about cybersecurity is that it’s very technical and all it takes is a deep interest in the subject. It’s a cross-functional field which can apply to a host of sectors and because the projects and subjects are so diverse, I learn something new every day.

Events such as security conferences (SSTIC) and cybersecurity Capture The Flag (CTF) challenges are a great way to enhance your knowledge in a fun way.

What are your career goals?

In the future, I’d like to take on a management position but still keep a link with the technical side of cybersecurity, for example, a job like Cybersecurity Hub Manager, or managing a small cybersecurity engineer team would suit me.

Do you have any advice for students?

Ask questions and be confident. Your first years in a working environment will be as educational as your years of study!

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