Ben Sanders and Ben Souza

June 26, 2023

Call out “Ben” and they both answer. But Ben Sanders and Ben Souza are used to that. Souza, who has been at the Lab for 27 years, was on the hiring committee for Ben Sanders, who joined the Lab five years ago. It didn’t dawn on Souza at that time that not only was it another Ben he was hiring, but a Ben S. That caused some issues with labeling leftovers in the team refrigerator, but they worked out labeling leftovers, and keeping it simple for everyone, they both answer to their last names.

Souza and Sanders are both members of the Endpoint Management Team, part of the cybersecurity team in IT. They have recently been working on assisting people to move to CrowdStrike, a next-generation software antivirus tool that is replacing Sophos in July. 

What brought you to the Lab?

Sanders: I was in a computer class at Diablo Valley College and Tammy Campbell came to our class to talk about computing. Even though I grew up in Martinez, I didn’t know much about the Lab and was intrigued. We talked, and I came to the Lab as an intern five years ago.

Before that, I was at UC Santa Barbara. I changed my major from physics to applied mathematics, but after graduation, I stuck around Santa Barbara and worked as a bartender for about ten years. It was a great lifestyle in my 20s, living at the beach and traveling. However, I returned to the Bay Area to find a new career and ended up in computing classes, and through Tammy, eventually to the Lab. 

Ben Sanders

Ben Souza

Souza: I grew up in Hayward, and we actually came to the Lab once on an English class field trip in high school. I don’t know what English class had to do with the field trip, but I remember being in the Bevatron and seeing the scale model of it. After the tour, the teacher gave us the option of returning to school on BART with her or coming back on our own. My buddy and I took our BART cards from her and went exploring in Berkeley for the rest of the day. When I was working here 18 years later, I remember walking into the Bevatron, and memories of that field trip came back to me. And memories of our independent tour of Berkeley in the 1970s.

Watching Star Trek, I wanted to be an aerospace engineer, but math wasn’t my strong subject. I was good at mechanical things so I did construction work, then moved into a company where I was always the guy who was good at fixing things. I took some computer classes and ended up at the Lab as the first embedded support engineer for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer in 1996.

What surprised you about the Lab?

Sanders: After my internship, I was an embedded engineer in the Biosciences Area, which made me familiar with biosciences. I was surprised at the breadth of research being done at the Lab and happy to support the scientists with our IT technology and our knowledge. 

Souza: It may seem like a small thing, but the diversity of the Lab has always been a pleasant surprise. I can tell the diversity is increasing because there are people at the Lab with names I had never heard growing up in the 1970s in the Bay Area.  There seemed to always be a diverse group of employees in the science areas, but I’m noticing it more in the support services as well. 

Why is it important to download CrowdStrike and keep computers up to date?

Souza: We work in Endpoint Management which is part of cybersecurity, and we check the patch levels of your operating system and applications to make sure the software is up to date and fix problems when they aren’t. 

Sanders: It’s important that users take responsibility to do the same on their personal computers by installing CrowdStrike. It is the next-generation antivirus software that is noninvasive and runs in the background. If it finds something that is potentially dangerous, it will notify us and we can fix it in the background or work with you to fix it. 

Keep the software patches on your computer updated by rebooting your computer every couple of days.  Use backup software like Druva to protect your data in the cloud. Even if your computer is lost, Druva will still have your data. 

Souza: There is a saying when it comes to personal computers that there are two types of people: those who backup and those who have never lost all their data. Operating systems and applications can be restored, but the things you create will be lost without a backup.