Why is cybersecurity important to women?


The events of this year around International Women’s Day, like the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and the scrutiny of sexual politics, have revealed that cyber-attacks and misogyny by private organisations have a very real impact on women.

A recent report, conducted by digital security vendor Rapid7, found that the majority of 79 global corporate leaders, of whom 38 percent were women, admit to having been digitally harassed, sexually harassed or sexually assaulted.

The problem, particularly for women, according to cyber security experts, is that organisations often fail to act or respond quickly enough to capture an attacker’s attention before they enact damage of their own.

Who is leading the charge? Tech companies are an obvious first point of attack, but women can also use the online platform to broadcast their own needs, needs for security-first practices and their experiences.

Earlier this year, Netflix’s women in technology’s leaders series highlighted the challenges women face online, highlighting their campaigns to empower women to have a more active role in their own cybersecurity.

Making inroads with women using the internet to fight the cyberattacks they face in their daily lives is certainly an uphill battle, but that doesn’t mean there is no place for women to be.

In many cases, these are women in high-profile positions in the industry who can play a valuable role in exposing flaws and stealing information that helps protect customers and may help to reduce ethical breaches and reduce perception of the industry.

Some examples of examples of women leading the cybersecurity field include:

Kristen Wood and Megan Gaiser — Security professionals

Kristen Wood is a co-founder of Cybersecurity Ventures, a Silicon Valley research institute developing a “mature market” for cybersecurity technologies and services. Wood also works as an advisor to several private companies. Gaiser is the vice president of security strategy at Venture Security, Inc., a government contractor that provides counter-intelligence and physical security services, including U.S. Department of Defense.

Wendy Wilson — Chief of men’s and women’s services

Leading organisations through security is a key job for both men and women, according to Wendy Wilson, Senior Vice President of Network Operations for AT&T. While men can have a lead role in troubleshooting, Wilson emphasizes the need for women in security roles in helping to motivate men around security and technical issues. Wilson said it is important for all security professionals to take time out of their busy days for what she calls “security training sessions.” “It will jump-start all your creativity as soon as you get your hands dirty, and you start to explore additional solutions,” she said.

Vivienne Sakibbekova and Marisa Knochenmus — Health networks

Vivienne Sakibbekova has been involved in cybersecurity operations since her days working for a couple of different telecommunications companies. She founded her own consulting company and is now Vice President of Operations for Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of the iconic BlackBerry cell phone. Maureen Marques is president of IT and WAN (WAN storage or video-over-portable network) solutions provider Thales Telecom. Over the past six years, she has led the transformation of Thales’ Security and Services business. Using IBM’s Watson technology to analyze threats, threats and anomalies captured from the Thales threat detection platform, Marques can analyse possible solutions faster, by reviewing the data in a much shorter timeframe.

Katja Arnott — Head of cyber operations

Having been engaged in information security in this industry since 1996, Roskilde’s Kleppen founder and CEO Katja Arnott is a specialist in an area of attack that many companies are still struggling to understand: information security projects and how to evaluate and carry out that for the firm. “My vision is to be involved in evolving the use of the cloud, and the information security infrastructure in general,” Arnott says.

Marilyn Tunnail — Businessleader

Finally, Sear and Project MSI’s co-owner Marilyn Tunnail has been involved in cybersecurity for the past four decades, working for various intelligence agencies. Since 2003, Tunnail has been in the private sector and has worked for Hewlett Packard and Dell, where she runs cybersecurity strategy and executive education, training and consulting.


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