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Nico M

Nico M

Offensive Security Engineer
Jacksonville, FL

In this Associate Spotlight, we recognize Nico M., a valued member of Availity for almost seven years. Originally joining Availity as an intern on the Security Operation Center team in 2016, Nico quickly transitioned to a full-time position as an Enterprise Security Administrator just months later. Since that time, Nico progressed to serve as an Identity Management Engineer and was promoted again to his current role as an Offensive Security Engineer, where he excels at finding and fixing flaws in systems to ensure Availity’s safety.

Nico’s passion for cybersecurity stems from his days reading comic books and watching movies as a child. Scenarios in which characters were hacking into mainframes or clicking buttons to take over organizations piqued Nico’s interest, but they also seemed unrealistic…that is until Nico grew up and discovered the field of offensive security while working as a computer repair technician. During these early days of his career, he learned the ins and outs of computers, how to manually remove viruses, and fix broken operating systems. Meanwhile, Nico also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as important certifications, which led him to his eventual career path at Availity.

Nico’s favorite part about working at Availity is the people that he spends each day with – his coworkers. “I absolutely love the people at Availity. My different positions have allowed me facetime with people all over our organization, and I’ve rarely been met with anything but kindness and helpfulness. I’ve also never had a question go unanswered and everybody is always willing to help. In turn, I try to emulate those who came before me and help whoever I can. Other companies have that ‘it’s not my job’ mentality, but I haven’t experienced that from anybody at Availity.”

When it comes to the most fulfilling part of his job, Nico enjoys the everyday challenges he faces. He is inspired by breaking the unbreakable and fixing the unfixable. To him, being in offensive security means constantly staying on top of the most emerging industry threats and the newest ways that bad guys are attacking. In his role, he is constantly required to solve unique problems or devise alternate solutions, so he is always learning something new. According to Nico, he’s the happiest when he discovers a new and complicated type of attack that he can work hard to solve.

During his time away from the office, Nico describes himself as a hacker for hire – someone that figures out how to break things and then tries to help fix them. This is the reason he spends a lot of his free time leading a hacking group that’s based around people trying to learn more about the industry and sharpen their skills.

It’s important for Nico to separate himself from his technical life as well. He often plays the trading card game, “Magic: The Gathering,” which involves building decks and fighting opponents using spells and creatures. He also highlights that mixed martial arts have had a profound impact on his life, teaching him the importance of discipline and never giving up – lessons that he carries with him every day.

For a recharge, Nico enjoys sharing time with his friends, family, and two pets, a 12-year-old cat named Jumanji and a 7-year-old dog named Phoenix, and doing house projects such as rearranging the furniture, building something, or doing major cleaning. His favorite book is “The Dresden Files,” his favorite movie is The Matrix, and his favorite food is his mom’s chicken cutlets and mashed potatoes.

Nico’s advice to other team members at Availity is, “Don’t stop asking questions. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s a bad question or one you think you should know. Just keep asking and working on it until you understand the ‘why’ behind it. Our organization can be complex with a lot of moving parts, and it’s impossible for any one person to know everything, so it’s important to keep learning how things work here. Be curious and help when you can.”

Thank you for your valuable insights, Nico, and for your continued time and effort as a member of the Availity team!