We sat down with Terry Nelms, Principal Software Engineer at Todyl, to discuss the journey that led him here, what he is working on, and why he encourages people to work on more challenging problems.
How Did You Get Started in Security?
After taking my first computer science course in college, I interned with IBM. Both experiences showed me how much I loved programming, prompting me to pivot my major to computer science. My love of programming only grew once I started working full-time at Internet Security Systems after graduating.
Early on, I had a passion for network security. Detecting interesting activity at the network level, whether malware or vulnerability exploits, provided plenty of big problems to solve. It further spurred my interest in security, prompting me to continue my studies culminating in receiving a Ph.D. in computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology, where I also teach cybersecurity.
Throughout my career, I combined research and software engineering. I enjoy working on high-impact, challenging problems. By being a researcher with the mindset of a software engineer, I contributed to over 14 patents, ranging from network intrusion prevention to caller ID verification, and published my research in top academic and industry conferences.
How Did You End Up at Todyl?
John Nellen and I share a mutual connection who explained the problem Todyl is solving. After connecting with John, I saw the opportunity to make a significant impact in the security space.
Todyl’s holistic approach to security, where we unify dozens of security and networking capabilities into a comprehensive, cloud-first platform, redefines how organizations connect and protect themselves. The fact that we make sophisticated solutions accessible to smaller organizations was just icing on the cake.
What Are You Working On?
As part of the Secure Global NetworkTM (SGN) Cloud Platform team, I'm focused on network security while ensuring high performance. I’m currently working to enhance how packets ingress, flow through our layers of security, and egress from the SGN. The goal is to reduce latency and improve throughput. I want all our users to be backed by our advanced security capabilities without impacting usability or performance.
Why Do You Encourage People to Work on More Challenging Problems?
Many people early in their careers focus on problems that are easier to conquer or solve. I recommend the opposite. I wholeheartedly believe that working on high-impact, challenging problems—even if you cannot 100% solve them—is more rewarding and leads to the most growth.
I encourage everyone to take on the more challenging project, even if they don’t know where to start. Take the time to work it out. You’ll grow and make a noticeable impact faster, providing you with even bigger and better opportunities in the future.
What Can We Find You Doing Outside of Work?
When I’m not working, I'm usually outside. I enjoy getting away from the keyboard to mountain bike or hike. In Georgia, I live nearby a couple different trails and make time to get out on them frequently.