Keppel Wood was initially assigned to the National Security Agency as a Navy Cryptologist in 2005. Three years later, she traded in her uniform for civilian clothing, making the career choice to stay at NSA because the mission and the people hooked her, according to a NSA news release, part of its “We’re Not Bots” series designed to highlight NSA’s mission and personnel.
“The people here are patriots, and they come here to solve hard problems and defend the nation. NSA is a great place to give back,” Keppel said.
Keppel recently joined the new Cybersecurity Directorate as the Chief Operations Officer of the Cybersecurity Collaboration Center- 3C for short.
“Your network is only as secure as its last patch or latest update, at speed,” said Keppel, who considers herself a computer nerd at heart. “What started as a cool new thing, became a hobby, and evolved into a passionate career. Moving into the cyber world was very natural because it touches everything we do. I look back on my time in signals intelligence (SIGINT) at NSA and it’s lined with ones and zeros.”
While NSA’s SIGINT mission collects intelligence focusing on foreign communications and information systems, cyber skills boost analysis and operationalize intelligence. Shifting the mission focus to cybersecurity allowed Keppel to continue protecting U.S. troops and ultimately defending the nation, NSA said.
Before joining the Cybersecurity Directorate, Keppel’s last assignment was Director of Operations for NSA’s On Net Pursuit (ONP) mission. ONP focused on threat analysis, vulnerability assessments, adversarial emulation, targeted hunt and COMSEC monitoring operations in support of Defense Department and government National Security Systems. In joining the 3C, Keppel’s experience will continue to help safeguard our nation through open partnerships, NSA explained.
“At NSA, we have mainly kept cybersecurity under a classified lens. Our partners live and work in an unclassified environment; however, so NSA’s collaboration center will enable us to identify and work on mutual challenges in the same setting, to ensure our government and nation’s networks are secure,” Keppel said.
When Keppel is not defending the nation from cyberthreats, she is teaching herself Python, a programming language that lets you work quickly and integrate systems more effectively, according to Python.org.
Keppel’s other interests include boating on the Chesapeake Bay and yoga.