Certified Essence-In-Use for Effective Cybersecurity (The Course)
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Course Info

This course includes 1 attempt.

Who is this course for, and why should you care?

Select the 2 minute and 40 second video to answer these questions.


Two primary values you will get from this course:

  • Just enough of a "thinking" framework called Essence to quickly begin applying it
  • How to use the framework to think about and help you solve your own cybersecure product issues

Pre-requisites for taking this course:

It is highly recommended that those taking this course first take the "Certified Essence-In-Use Practitioner Training" (https://leanpub.com/c/essence).

However, this is not a hard requirement because in this course you will receive just enough of the "essence of Essence" to be able to quickly begin applying the framework to the challenge of cybersecure products.

Specifically, you will learn in this course:

·        A practical and effective approach to identify the changes your team needs to make to their current way of working to ensure you are creating software that meets your customer’s cybersecurity needs without adding unnecessary non-value-added work

·        How to ensure your team is focused on the cybersecurity issues that matter most to your organization, your customers and your product

·        The different kind of thinking one needs to be using when developing cybersecure software

·        Surprising facts about the relationship between cybersecurity and organizational culture

·        How to assess and compare different cybersecurity development practices

·        Key differences cybersecurity brings to traditional software development approaches including examples of cybersecurity development practices that you can integrate into your team’s current way of working with a minimum of cost and effort

·        Multiple case studies demonstrating proven fundamentals of effective cybersecurity practices

What does the word "certified" in the course title mean?

It means two things.

  • First, it means that the course has been developed and is given by a Certified Essence Training Provider.
  • Second, it means that after you complete the course and pass the test you will receive a certificate that recognizes you as having successfully passed the course, “Certified Essence-In-Use for Effective Cybersecurity” indicating you are “certified” as a user of Essence and to continue to learn about new ways to use Essence for effective cybersecurity.  


Michael Oakes, PhD, Assistant Professor, Hampton University; Boeing 767ER Captain, Delta Air Lines (Retired); Leader of the Engineering Process Group at Alion Science, (Retired); Lt. Col. USAF (Retired)

“I am sure you hear it in every news source about the latest company hacked or someone’s personal information stolen. Certainly, all of these events cause a lot of angst, grief, and money to stop and rectify the breech. These breeches also pull resources including the enormous amount of time to rebuild profiles or new software systems to thwart the unwanted and illegal intrusions all-the-while NOT concentrating on your primary mission and productive enterprises. 

 In his latest educational endeavor, Mr. Paul McMahon unravels many of the complexities of cyber security that industry teams face and masterfully uses the SEMAT Essence model as a critical thinking framework to navigate these complexities and provides valuable solutions. As Paul states from the beginning, anyone can master these cyber security concepts without taking the introductory or advanced Essence courses. Essence is a free industry-standard model that helps with the challenges development teams face every day around the world. Essence uses an easy visual language to address teams’ practices and development activities. Paul crafts his academics in this course to pull out the nuggets of the Essence model and apply it to excellent case studies from his 50 years of development and project management experience that highlight cybersecurity issues. He carefully walks the learner through the steps and then concludes with recaps to solidify the learning. The best metaphor for this course is that both Paul McMahon’s narrative and lesson materials are not about eating fish; they are about learning to fish! I absolutely recommend this course for software development teams and especially academic institutions to use as a foundation for effective cyber security. You will build better and more secure products and learn valuable critical thinking methods once you grasp Mr. McMahon’s concepts and add them to your organizational toolbox.”

John Troy – Program Manager, Rockwell-Collins (Retired)

“Today’s world is full of cutting edge technology as well as the ever-present threat of those who would illicitly obtain and use it for nefarious purposes. Paul McMahon’s course in Essence-in-use for Effective Cybersecurity provides a refreshing and timely approach to combating the misuse of our current technology by providing another way of perceiving the threat. Using a Systems Engineering approach he walks the user through a process of a thinking framework that would enable the developer and management team to consider their design approach a bit differently while at the same time not incurring extra costs in “re-inventing the wheel” with respect to their own standard practices. He applies the thinking process in a clear and understandable way and shows the questioning that may be instrumental when considering a design that must counter and adapt to the ever-present threat of the infamous hacker. Of particular merit is the mantra that Systems Engineering, while always important, is more of a paramount necessity today in order to combat cyber-attacks. Specifically, it must be done correctly and thoroughly. This course is timely and incredibly important in the never-ending necessity to fend off those who would illicitly compromise our corporations, government, and our personal lives. I highly recommend it to both the new and experienced engineer, manager, HR department and all of the groups within industry who can ill-afford technological compromise. It will be an investment with returns that far exceeds the cost.”

Jim Grebey – President, Diligent Inc.

“Paul McMahon has done it again. High efficiency, high performance software development teams don’t just happen by chance. They come about because management decides to take the steps necessary to invest in their teams. Human performance improvement is gained from methods learned from the bottom up and led from the top down. Paul McMahon is able to use his years of training systems and human performance improvement methods to develop courseware that is straight forward and makes his methods easy to learn… and get the job done. Smart Leaders turn to Paul for smart solutions. I know. I engaged him to train my own client teams who continue to excel by following his methods.”


For group/organizational, or yearly course pricing, contact Paul E. McMahon at pemcmahon@acm.org


Course Material

  • Introduction
  • Course Parts and Length of Related Videos
  • Taking the Course and the Final Test
  • Starting the course
  • Part 1 Introduction and Overview
  • Part 2 Fundamentals of Cybersecure Software Thinking
  • Part 3 Developing Cybersecure Software: Beyond Fundamentals
  • Part 4 Conclusion
  • Course reference material
  • Part 1 Introduction and Overview – Slides only
  • Part 2 Fundamentals of Cybersecure Software Thinking – Slides only
  • Part 3 Developing Cybersecure Software: Beyond Fundamentals – Slides only
  • Part 4 Conclusion – Slides only
  • Final Test
  • icon/quiz Created with Sketch.
    Quiz 12 attempts allowed


    • Paul E. McMahon (pemcmahon@acm.org), Principal, PEM Systems (www.pemsystems.com) has been an independent consultant since 1997 helping organizations increase agility and performance. Paul's current focus is on coaching teams in practical techniques to solve their own challenges using the Essence framework (www.essence-in-use.com). He has taught software engineering at Binghamton University, conducted workshops on engineering processes and management and has published more than 50 articles and multiple books including "Integrating CMMI and Agile Development: Case Studies and Proven Techniques for Faster Performance Improvement," and "15 Fundamentals for Higher Performance in Software Development," and "It's All Upside Down: What I've Learned About Software Development and Why it Seems Opposite to Everything I was Taught." Paul is a co-author of "The Essence of Software Engineering: Applying the SEMAT Kernel." Paul is a Certified Scrum Master, Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and a Certified Essence Training Provider. His insights reflect 24 years of experience working for companies such as Link Simulation and Lockheed Martin, and 20 years of consulting/coaching experience. Paul has been a leader in the SEMAT initiative since its initial meeting in Zurich in 2010.  

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