A Cyber Celebration: Hidden Figures in Cybersecurity
By: Shahara M. Ruth, M.Ed.
Lead Instructional Specialist, CyberVista
As we enter Women’s History Month, it is time that we take a step back to revisit our origins and contributions to technology by women, while making plans to focus on our roles as contributors to today’s technological advancements.
The movie, Hidden Figures is a dramatic narrative that gave audiences a picture of what it was like to be not only a woman, but a woman of color during the United States’ entry into the space race of the 1960s. The women in the film were relegated to what was considered at the time to be traditional female roles, although their talents far exceeded the tasks that they were asked to perform. Thankfully, the women were finally allowed to use their gifts to assist in not only giving the United States an advantage in the space race, but also granted them the ability to make their mark as masters of advanced technology.
Today’s hidden figures are the women who are leaders in the field of cybersecurity. Often when we think of cybersecurity, we think of men in hoodies toiling away in a dark room, or a room full of guys in button-down shirts, khakis, and loafers with horned rimmed glasses and pocket protectors. These are the common media depictions of cyber experts, but there are women in cybersecurity careers too. In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s see who they are and what roles they play.
Who are some of the players?
According to the website, Careers in Cybersecurity there are five women who are leading the charge to create opportunities in the cybersecurity field.
- Deidre Diamond is a pioneer who created a staffing agency, Cybersecurity Network, as well as being the founder of a non-profit
- Alissa Johnson, currently the Chief Information Officer of Xerox
- Bhavani Thuraisingham Executive Director of the Cybersecurity Education and Research Institute
- Lisa Jiggets, founder, President and CEO of Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu,
- Joyce Brocaglia, President and CEO of Alta Associates.
This is only a handful of the women who are taking their passion for their niche in cybersecurity and moving forward with innovation, courage, determination, and perseverance despite the challenges they may come across.
There is only one major difference between these women and you. They have discovered their passion and worked towards their specific cybersecurity career goals. There are a myriad of branches under the Cybersecurity tree of knowledge. You have to research the options, decide on your destination, make a plan and start your journey.
There are a considerable amount of roles to play in cybersecurity and not enough players. Currently, only 11% of women make up the cybersecurity workforce according to a 2017 study done by Women In Cybersecurity. Something has to change. You can be a changemaker just by stepping into your destiny as a cybersecurity professional.
What are the options?
Cybersecurity opportunities are growing rapidly. Let’s look at a few of the major career choices, both those that need certification and those that don’t.
Board of Directors and Cybersecurity
Board members of corporations and organizations must have an overall understanding of the risks of breaches and how they can affect company reputation and an organization’s ability to function in the event that a breach occurs, including legal ramifications. On a board or want to prepare yourself to join a board? Check out our digital executive cyber risk program.
These professionals are responsible for investigating, pursuing and prosecuting cybercriminals and need an in-depth understanding of cybersecurity.
Given the incredible amount of personal data in a marketing role as well as the use of websites, cookies, and a CRM tool (customer relationship management), these individuals need to understand the importance and power of both cybersecurity and privacy. Oftentimes, a company can use cybersecurity as a key tenet of a brand and the marketing team members needs to message that externally effectively.
Cybersecurity Business Analyst
Business analysts can critically examine cybersecurity policies, information, and ensure that best practices are followed.
Cybersecurity bloggers research information, validate data, write and distribute articles pertaining to cybersecurity. This assists stakeholders and the public with data that can arm them with the latest news in the world of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity educators and advocates take the story and messages of cybersecurity and deliver them to an external audience. This can start in schools and grow to the public at large regarding cyber literacy and threats. This may not require a particular certification but necessitates a public trust. Educators who are teaching a specific technical area of cybersecurity should hold a certificate in the area in which they are teaching.
Technical roles normally require certification. The options and certificates mandated are determined by the level of the candidate and the job role.
Network Administrator or Aspiring Cyber Professional
For beginners, the recommended certification is CompTia’s Security+. This certification enables its holders to perform network administration and mitigate threats.
CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) allows candidates to be the good guys. With this certification you can become a penetration tester.
Information Security Manager
CISM (Certified Information Security Manager by ISACA) is for candidates seeking to find positions in the management field of cybersecurity. This certification demonstrates skills in creating and applying best practices during program development.
Information Security Manager; Team Lead; Aspiring Cybersecurity Leader
CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional by (ISC)2) certification proves that the holder has the practical knowledge and skills necessary to be considered a cybersecurity professional and can think like a manager.
CSSLP (Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional) is the certificate that lets employers know that you are able to protect the organization’s software. This certificate also informs employers that you can guarantee that you have the skills to secure the software from the beginning to end of the software lifecycle.
Take the first step. Don’t be timid. Make your own history. Embrace your greatness. Find out more about the movers and shakers of women in cybersecurity. Maybe one of their stories can inspire you. Many of them probably will. Maybe a cybersecurity career is right for you. Remember, there are many paths to choose from, procedural and technical.
Want to get started? Check out our cyber roles quiz and see which cyber role might be best for you! And if you’re ready for your next cyber certification, let us help you get prepared!