Cyber Penetration Tester, Cyber Defense Engineering and Research Group

Full Time
Pasadena, CA
Areas of Interest: Test and Evaluation, Vulnerability Assessment and Management
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Take your next career step with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Become part of our universe


Do you excel in an environment that values exploration and discovery? We have a universe of opportunities waiting for you!


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration of the solar system. Our core competency is the end-to-end implementation of unprecedented robotic space missions to study Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe.


JPL, located in Pasadena, California, has a casual, campus-like environment situated on 177 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a work environment unlike any other: we inspire passion, foster innovation, build collaboration, and reward excellence.


We are proud to be part of NASA and Caltech, as we explore the universe and make history through new discoveries.


We aim to do things never done before and to go places few can go. We dare mighty things…do you?



JPL’s Cyber Defense Engineering and Research Group leads the laboratory’s efforts in mission cyber defense research and development through:

  • providing guidance and direction of cyber defense strategies for flight programs and projects; developing new cyber defense test and validation methodologies;
  • advancing the state-of-the-art in intrusion detection, diagnosis, and remediation for cyber and cyber-physical systems;
  • engaging in collaborations with the cyber security research community which includes other government agencies, academia and industry; and
  • implementing reimbursable tasks with DoE, DoD, intelligence community, and commercial customers designed to enhance JPL’s cyber security capabilities.


We are seeking qualified candidates to be key members of our growing Cyber Defense Engineering and Research team. If you enjoy the rapidly expanding and evolving field of cyber security and information assurance, our group is right for you. Members of our team must be self-motivated, energized by the challenge of finding solutions to complex problems, and excited about our mission to keep space missions and other critical infrastructure safe from cyber-based adversaries. If these challenges sound exciting to you, you might be the next member of our growing team at JPL.


As a key member of our Cyber Defense team, you will contribute to creating a capability that will make an impact across our Institution and NASA.


Specifically, you will:

  • work on our Flight Project focused Cyber Security Improvement Project (CSIP) supporting Sensor Mesh, Risk Assessments, Cyber Defense Testbed, Red Team Penetration Testing tasks
  • work directly on Flight Projects conducting science from Earth orbit and deep space
  • work on external critical infrastructure tasks of national significance
  • participate in cyber-focused risk assessment utilizing penetration testing techniques to identify weaknesses in designs and internally developed and deployed software
  • evaluate next generation of penetration test suites, tools and scripts, maintaining a toolset in the Cyber Defense Lab
    coordinate with program / project customers and team members to acquire and redeploy images of program / project systems for cyber-focused vulnerability analysis in the Cyber Defense Lab
  • continuously evaluate cyber testing that can be automated and integrated into standard Integration & Test plans
  • contribute to highly complex designs by applying cyber-focused engineering practices to the architecture and design systems and software to better detect, diagnose and remediate anomalies in systems
  • conduct software analysis of existing code to identify weaknesses, validate weaknesses, design mitigations, validate mitigation effectiveness
  • apply advanced knowledge in field to documents design decisions and mitigations that affect system exposure to exploit vulnerabilities
  • resolve highly complex technical issues

What does it take?

Successful candidates typically have a degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Mathematics. Bachelors with 6 years of related experience, Masters with 4 years of related experience, PhD with 2 years of related experience


Other minimum qualification skills:

  • Knowledge of cyber security principles (authentication, authorization, encryption, non-repudiation, etc.)
  • Recent experience scripting in Python or another high-level scripting language (Perl, Ruby, etc.)
  • Experience:
    • in using and supporting Linux-based operating systems as an application hosting environment
    • supporting and operating virtualization technologies
      • VMware vCenter, ESXi, Oracle VM VirtualBox, Docker
    • developing or using visualization tools to portray complex data and relationships
  • Knowledge of:
    • secure coding practices
    • TCP/IP networking principles and protocols
    • Apache web server operations and secure configurations
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system
    • Oracle Solaris operating system
    • Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)
    • Kerberos
  • Familiarity with:
    • team-based software development practices (software CM, unit test frameworks, bug tracking, continuous integration, etc.)
    • Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE), Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE)
    • Common Platform Enumeration (CPE)
    • Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS)
    • NIST Special Publications (SP) 800 series and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS)


You will stand out if you also:

  • Are familiar with NASA’s Program and Project Management Requirements
  • Bring:
    • experience in an applied research environment
    • Security considerations related to Amazon cloud services such as S3, EC2, etc.
    • recent experience using static and dynamic code analysis tools
    • experience in working with database management systems, and NoSQL systems
    • knowledge of machine learning concepts, methods, and algorithms, especially as related to classification and diagnosis
Caltech/JPL is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and affirmative action employer. It is the policy of Caltech/JPL to provide equal employment opportunities, actively recruit, and include for employment consideration all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, protected veteran or disabled status, or genetic information. 

JPL is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor. For more information about "EEO is the Law" click here: 

If you are interested in applying for employment with Jet Propulsion Laboratory and need special assistance or an accommodation to apply for a posted position, contact our Human Resources department at (818) 354-5150 or via email at 

Written requests may be mailed to: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Attention: Staffing and Employment Programs, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Mail Stop T1720C, Pasadena, CA 91109

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Jet Propulsion Laboratory

We dare mighty things. Do you?
JPL grew up with the Space Age and helped bring it into being. It is a place where science, technology and engineering intermix in unique ways: to produce iconic robotic space explorers sent to every corner of the solar system, to peer into and beyond the Milky Way galaxy and to keep a watchful eye on our home planet. Analyzing the data pouring back from these machines’ emissaries, scientists around the world continue to discover how the universe, solar system and life formed and evolved. 

Above all, we are explorers. At JPL we promote collaboration, innovation, integrity and excellence in distinct academic areas. We turn ideas for science investigation into the reality of groundbreaking space missions, partnering with our strategic business teams to guide JPL into the future. 
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Company Industry: Defense & Space
Company Type: Government Agency
Company Size: 5,001-10,000
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