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CheckMates Member of the Month for August 2019: Matt Dunn

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20190708_114221.jpgPut your virtual hands together for @Matt_Dunnour CheckMates member of the Month for August 2019!

When he's not helping out fellow CheckMaters, you can find him on LinkedIn.

Tell Us About Yourself and What You Do, Matt

I now live in the North East of the UK where I'm married with two kids. I started my IT career around 22 years ago at an armoured vehicle manufacturer in Telford as a junior helpdesk administrator. Wet behind the ears, I had my first lesson in "not opening enticing attachments in emails from people you don't know" in May 2000, when I opened the Love Bug email and caused almost instantaneous widespread havoc on the network. Our AV product at the time was still several days away from releasing an update. That sparked my interest in security so my role in the company changed and I became heavily involved in maintaining the various security systems - email and web filtering, 2FA, and of course firewall and VPN.

Shortly afterwards, I seized an opportunity to advance my IT Security career by taking a job at our security contractor at the time - Askaris Information Technology. So I moved 200 miles north... In 2005 we were acquired by Onyx Internet to add a specialist security division to their ISP business. Some of the long time Check Point SE's in the UK still know me as "Matt from Onyx"!

Some of my core values are putting security and customer service first and foremost, so after yet another acquisition which didn't work out so well for me and saw those values eroding, I left 12 months ago and went full circle back to work for Askaris, and I couldn't be happier. Many original Askaris customers followed us through these acquisitions and then followed me and another former Askaris colleague back to Askaris again, so myself and the team are very thankful to have some very good, loyal and long term relationships with my customers. Hopefully that shows we're doing something right 😁

Tell Us About Your Experience with Check Point

I started using Check Point in late 2000 back at the tank factory. We had a cluster of Nokia IP440's on version 4.1 at the time. Since then, I've used every subsequent version and my experience with Check Point has grown and grown. I got my first CCSA in 2001 and my first CCSE in 2003. I've been installing, configuring and maintaining Check Point for customers since 2003, predominantly in the SME market, but some larger global clients also. Our largest customer, who we installed Check Point for almost 16 years and have supported ever since, has 45 gateways stretched right around the globe. About 6 or 7 years ago I installed Multi Domain Management and several VSX clusters for a customer, and continue to support those system today. I have another customer with several SCADA sites. I have designed, installed and supported Check Point for customers in many verticals, but tend to focus more on financial, oil & gas, and manufacturing.

Do You Have A Unique Deployment of Check Point?

The thing that sets me and Askaris apart from many other IT companies that that every deployment is unique.  Rather than simply box shift and have unexperienced people install a generic rulebase, the thing I value about Askaris is that security is all we do, and we do it well, so we have a deep understanding of each environment we install Check Point in to, and therefore every installation and configuration is bespoke and unique, whether that be a single standalone gateway for a small customer, or a complex global deployment with multiple clusters configured as MEP and meshed VPN's to 40 other sites and custom tweaks to the various .conf files...  No two firewalls are the same.

What do You Use the CheckMates Platform For?

Recently, I've been making a lot of use of CheckMates, either to throw ideas out there and seek advice from others, or to get help resolving issues.  I use TAC a lot too, but have mixed success with them.  Sometimes TAC is right on the money, but sometimes there is no doubt that the responses from other community members is faster and more reliable than TAC.  For that reason I'm turning more and more to using it as a sounding board.  I must admit at the moment I'm getting much more help out of it than I'm contributing back, and I'm extremely grateful to the other members that are so quick and thorough in their help.  I hope from time to time my 16 or so years of using Check Point every day will allow me to help someone else out...  The trouble is, when I do have an answer for someone, I'm usually beaten to my reply by someone else!  Check Point has morphed in to such a huge suite of products that even working with it every day, I can only scratch the surface with all there is to know.  The community is full of people that have experience and specialism in different areas, so the sheer wealth of  knowledge is incredible.  That's the beauty of this community.

What Do You Like To Do for Fun?

20 years ago, I did a lot of weight lifting, but marriage, kids and career made that take a back seat for a while.  Health is important, and it's too easy to make excuses, so recently I've been getting back in to that and enjoying it.  I used to do a lot of archery when I was younger and would really like one day to get back in to that. In recent years, I've been an avid cyclist and runner, but following an injury coming off my bike, and an injury while running a marathon in 2016 I've kind of let those slip too.

I'd like to get back in to those sports when time allows, but long distance cycling in particular just takes up so much time, which at the moment I'm putting to more productive use, such as studying for my CISSP.  I wouldn't call that study "fun" per se, but after years of not making time to achieve that, 2019 needs to be the year!  I still try and run a few times a week, but no more than a couple of miles at a time.

I'm very interested in property, mostly as a form of pension when I'm older.  I currently have one house that I rent out, but there are so many other strategies to make serious income from property.  I'm in various property groups on Facebook and follow a couple of particular strategies closely.  I'll make another move in property some time soon.

I make good use of my Audible subscription and always have a book or podcast on while I'm driving in my car or on the train or in the gym, and it's always something educational.  I don't like reading, but love learning, so Audible and podcasts are a fantastic way to put dead commuting time to great beneficial use.  Your brain is like any other muscle: ignore it and it will deteriorate, but exercise it and it will grow.  I think of my car as a university on wheels.  

If you could create any new technology right now, what would it be?

It would either have to be:

  1. Some way of putting more hours in to the day - there are so many great IT Security products out there and just never enough time to learn about them. And so many other non-IT things I want to learn, but run out of time each day...
  2. A magic machine to make Brexit happen, one way or the other. Seriously, it's a joke now. We gave our politicians one job to do... just one job.... *sigh*

Anything Else You'd Like to let CheckMates Know About?

Nothing especially - just a thank you to the Admins and all the active members to who make this community a success.

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