About

What is Roanoke InfoSec Exchange (RISE)?

We are an all-volunteer group of professionals and enthusiasts dedicated to building Information Security skills, professionalism, and personal networks in the Roanoke Valley region. Our members consist of IT professionals and those wishing to learn more about cybersecurity topics such as students and educators. Meetings are generally held on the second Thursday of each month in a local school or IT-related business. Speakers include RISE members, local professionals, and occasional guest professionals from outside the region.
RISE fosters a close-knit community and runs informal meetings that focus on the people and technology rather than a particular product or agenda. Meetings are free to attend (usually so is the beer!) and open to the public. All are welcome to come out, enjoy free information on Information Security, and expand their professional network.
This blog is the primary means of communication for the group, in addition to the email list. We also have a YouTube channel where we post recorded meeting sessions when available. Meetings are also streamed online when possible to reach members in remote areas of our region.
We hope you will come out and join us at our next meeting! If you have any questions about the group, please reach out to us via email.

How Can I Learn More?

  • Email us at info@roanokeinfosec.com and ask to be added to our mailing list! We send emails on average of one per week to notify you of upcoming meetings and other area InfoSec events. We do not share your email.
  • Visit our YouTube channel for videos of past presentations
  • Follow us on Twitter – @RoanokeInfoSec

Can I Present at RISE?

Of course! We’re always looking for presenters. Just send us an email at info@roanokeinfosec.com to pitch your idea. Our meetings are informal and a great opportunity for first-time speakers. We have only a few guidelines:

  • Presentations should focus on infosec technologies, principles, or processes. No sales pitches.
  • Most presentations are 45 – 90 minutes. Plan some time for audience questions.
  • Relax! We’re all here to learn from and help each other.

Who Makes This Happen?

Rob Garbee founded the Roanoke InfoSec Exchange in November 2015 to fill a gap he saw in the area’s professional culture. While other professional organizations were available, Rob wanted to reach out to the area’s technical, “hands-on” professionals with a group that would provide no-nonsense, technical details and real-world experience. RISE’s start as “four techies in a room” has grown to monthly meetings reaching hundreds of Roanoke InfoSec professionals every year. Rob is an Information Security professional working for a large medical services provider headquartered in the Roanoke Valley. In this role, Robert is responsible for performing threat analysis and network assessments for enterprise network systems located in various locations across Virginia. He has more than 20 years of experience in information technology and during that time has held positions in information security, information technology, and industrial security. As the “Face of RISE”, Rob expends countless hours working with local and regional InfoSec leaders to bring the best information to community presentations. He has also spoke at several local panels and is highly active in the Roanoke professional community. Rob can be found on Twitter at @robgarbee.

Nate Sykes co-founded RISE and is a constant presence in the Roanoke InfoSec community. He is an Executive Vice President at R&K Solutions. Nate has worked in all areas of system and network administration. He has been involved in different aspects of security during his career, including prevention, detection and compliance. He holds GSEC, GMON, GSLC and GCDA certifications. Nate can be found on Twitter at @n8sec.

Aaron McPhallAaron McPhall joined the RISE board in 2022 after being a member for 4 years.  He started off as a Network/System Admin back in 2006 and has worked various IT and Security related roles, including Security {Engineering, Architecture, Research, Incident Response}.  After relocating to this area in 2018, RISE provided a good community of security-focused peers promoting a vision of sharing knowledge, which Aaron hopes to foster. Aaron currently holds a CISSP, AWS-DVA, and AWS-SCS.

Ken Nevers is the founder of and Principal Penetration Tester for Red Sea Profile photo of Ken Nevers Information Security, LLC which is a team of Offensive Security Engineers holding industry recognized penetration testing certifications and possessing years of experience who are sincerely “Passionate About Cybersecurity”. Since 2019, Red Sea Infosec has been performing Internal, External and Web Application Penetration Testing engagements, Network Security Assessments, Security Awareness Trainings, and generalized Information Technology Consulting services to both non-profit and for-profit commercial industries in our home state of Virginia and throughout the United States.  Ken holds the following offensive cybersecurity certifications: OSEP – Offensive Security Experienced Penetration Tester, OSCP – Offensive Security Certified Professional, CRTO – Certified Red Team Operator, CRTE – Certified Red Team Expert, CRTP – Certified Red Team Professional, PaWASP – Pentester Academy WebApp Security Professional, PWAPT – Practical Web Application Penetration Tester,
In addition to RISE, Ken is a member and past presenter at both ROALug – Roanoke Area Linux User Group and RBTC – Roanoke/Blacksburg Technology Council.

Ken loves security conferences and has volunteered at DerbyCon, BSides Roanoke and RVASec

Ken is also a follower of Christ, a devoted husband, a lover of dad jokes, a player of guitars, a proud parent to “Kaya”, a rambunctious Siberian Husky, “Misty Blue”, an overweight St. Bernard Hound Mix, and a 14 year old rescue cat named “Mr.Bob”. He can be found on the twitters @k3nundrum

Profile photo of Helen FranksHelen Franks is a senior Account Manager with CopperRiverit.com with extensive experience in sales and operations, managing a $20M dollar territory with over 60 unique clients. She is highly skilled in communicating with key clients to outline individual needs, presenting product and service portfolio solutions designed to enhance customer satisfaction, business retention, and growth. I have a proven ability in spearheading cross-functional teams through daily operations, ensuring adherence to overarching strategies and policies, as well as achievement of short- and long-term sales objectives. Helen has been recognized for consistently meeting and exceeding goals, maintaining working knowledge of industry trends, emerging platforms, and evolving consumer needs to provide cutting-edge solutions in driving cross- and up-selling strategies.

Former Advisory Board Members


Ed Summers assists as RISE’s Communications and Social Media Coordinator. If you email RISE, read the blog, or follow the Twitter, you’ve seen Ed in action. He joined RISE shortly after relocating to the area and realized its potential for professional networking and as a force for improvement in the area’s IT community. Ed architects and engineers cloud and networking solutions for federal clients and is an example that you don’t need to have a ‘security’-titled job to benefit from RISE. Reach out to Ed on Twitter at @edwinsummers.