O’Reilly ’21 Gaining Hands-on Experience through Cybersecurity Internship
Michael O’Reilly ‘21, a computer science and cybersecurity major from Hollis, NH, has spent the summer immersed and gaining real-world experience in the cybersecurity field through his internship at Tyler Technologies, the country’s largest supplier of software in the public sector, including government and schools.
Though his internship has been remote instead of based at the company’s Yarmouth, ME, location, O’Reilly has had a hands-on experience. He spends time attending meetings, conducting research, and shadowing and learning from the company’s penetration testers—individuals who test the security of a system before hackers can infiltrate it. “It has been great to see their techniques and learn the ways that they think,” he said, adding that he has also practiced penetration testing during his internship.
O’Reilly has worked on a variety of projects, including setting up and launching Nikto scans, Nmap scans, and Nessus scans—tools used to identify vulnerabilities in a system—and fixed one of the company’s vulnerability scanner wrappers, which is now being tested in production.
“All the pieces of information I have learned about in class are now coming together,” he said. “This internship [has given] me a better understanding of the purpose behind what we are learning and how it will be applied in the workplace after college.”
In addition to the technology work, he has also learned about the use of certain tools and how to read their data, as well as about the company’s processes and how it handles tests and assessments. “I have also learned many soft skills, like how to communicate with a co-worker and a client, as well as the importance of protection and privacy of company and client information,” he explained. “The internship has not just helped me grow technically, but has provided me with skills that are needed in a career in cybersecurity.”
O’Reilly shared that his liberal arts courses provided him the skills needed to discover early success in cybersecurity, while his Assumption courses provide the technical skills and knowledge needed to understand and be able to work in the cybersecurity division at Tyler Technologies. His summer internship has built upon that foundation, as everything he has been working has challenged him and helped him grow, giving him the confidence to do more in the cybersecurity field.
“I feel like after this experience, I would have the confidence if someone said, ‘Hey, find vulnerabilities on these IP addresses or hostnames and give me a report on it,’ that I could run some scans, do some research, try to penetrate the vulnerabilities, and generate a report on the findings,” he explained. “I feel like I jumped into the cybersecurity field and now I am finally getting my bearings and understand what I am doing and why I am doing it.”