Profiles in IT: Skyler West—Spectacular SUL

(Image courtesy of Skyler West.)

Skyler West is a data security analyst on the U-M Flint campus. In his role as a security unit liaison (SUL), he partners with ITS Information Assurance to promote security awareness, education, monitoring, and compliance, while enabling UM-Flint’s missions. In his free time, he likes to camp, cook, game, and garden.

What is a SUL?

A “SUL” is a Security Unit Liaison. Many of us in units around the university partner with ITS Information Assurance (IA) to enable unit missions while promoting security awareness, education, monitoring, and compliance. We are grateful for IA’s commitment to maintaining strong and productive relationships with the SULs, which includes listening to our feedback and supporting our needs as we work together to protect the U.

What do you see in your units regarding measures staff take to protect themselves and their data?

Our technical staff has done well keeping our servers updated and responding to new vulnerabilities promptly. In addition, I see more technical and non-technical staff reaching out to us about security policies and general advising on workflows (big and small), which is always great to see. Tickets often come by reporting phishing and unusual emails as well.

What IA tools, capabilities, and resources do you leverage within your unit?

General sensitive data handling approvals, the Safe Computing resources and alerts, security policies, and information from the Security Operations Center have been very helpful. In addition, we also look to better leverage RECON and compliance-related capabilities in the near future.

What are some of your security concerns at Flint or other areas of U-M?

Educating users on data handling, data classification, and more recent cyber threats (i.e., job scams, spoofed emails, trickier phishing emails, 2FA Push fatigue). The ever-present threat of zero-days and new attack vectors is always on our radar.

What are some things you do within your unit to spread cybersecurity awareness?

From a technical standpoint, I have news and advisory feeds tailored to our environment that I check daily, reaching out on security issues where applicable. Additionally, slowly leveling up my ability to search and alert on potential problems on our network has proven helpful.

From a non-technical view, I have begun work to update our security awareness training for new staff on-boarding, reaching out more regularly regarding policy enforcement to departments, and continuing to build working relationships around campus to increase our security posture.

What do you like about working at U-M Flint?

Working at UM-Flint has been a great first step into the security field, learning a lot from the skilled people in the U-M community. The smaller scale and more centralized nature of the Flint campus makes it a great place to learn, implement, and see the results of new security controls.

What do you do for fun?

Outside of work, I’m often camping, cooking, gaming, gardening, and studying cybercrime’s effects on the world.

Author: Jennifer Wilkerson, School of Information

Jen is the project/change manager with School of Information. You can reach her at