March 8th is International Women’s Day, where we pay tribute to the women and men who worked relentlessly to promote equality for women. It’s also an opportunity to examine the current strides being made in the workplace. Cybersecurity is one field where, though long considered to be an all-boys club, intrepid women are making incredible progress in changing that mindset.
Let’s take a look at some of these trailblazers who have been instrumental in dispelling myths and clearing the way for future generations of women. They hail from all sectors of the industry — from startups, to government, to non-profit and more — but what they have in common is that the women cyber warriors of tomorrow can thank them for breaking down the barriers of the past.
Cyber’s trailblazing women
Jane Frankland – Having spent over two decades in the industry, Jane has been around since the very early days of “Cyber’’. She is a serial cyber entrepreneur, having launched and sold a security consultancy, while building other successful cyber ventures. She also wrote a best selling book called INsecurity on the topic of attracting women to Security and is a highly sought-out speaker on the topics of diversity in Cyber and how to succeed in the industry.
Parisa Tabriz – Parisa is the Security Princess (aka Director of Engineering) at Google, charged with keeping Chrome secure. Her route to Cybersecurity was rather circuitous, as she didn’t get involved with tech until she was enrolled in university. After a website she built was hacked, she decided she wanted to learn how the hackers managed to breach it. She went to a security club meeting — and the rest is history. Now, she mentors teens to help them find their way to tech earlier on in their studies.
Marian Merritt – We all want to keep our kids safe online and Marian has been a staunch digital safety education advocate for years. In her role as Symantec’s Internet Safety Advocate, she traveled across the US to classrooms educating children and parents on the dangers lurking on the internet and how they can protect themselves. Now, in her role as the head of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), she leads the government education initiative to get women into the field.
Keren Elazari – Keren is the founder of BSides Tel Aviv as well as a world-renown cyber researcher. She was the first Israeli woman to give TED talk, titled “Hackers: The Internet’s Immune System”, which was voted one of the most influential ideas of 2014. In it, she proposed this powerful paradigm shift: hackers make the internet stronger, which is ultimately better for security — the defenders need that push provided by attackers to make a more secured, healthy internet ecosystem. She works with some of the top security firms in the world and is a visiting professor at the Singularity University. She is also the co-author of Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level.
Lisa Jiggetts – After serving as a security tester at HPE and a government contractor, Lisa founded the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC), where she serves as CEO. WSC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women break into and succeed in Cybersecurity. It also has a division dedicated to getting girls involved and excited about Cyber and STEM in general.
Limor Elbaz – Limor is the founder and CEO of Peerlyst, the Facebook of Cybersecurity professionals. She is also the co-founder of numerous successful startups and served as head of research at the mobile division of Intel. In her role at Peerlyst, she and her team encourage women and men from all backgrounds and skill level to get involved and go further in Cyber. Through their workshops and lectures, Peerlyst in helping all kinds of Cyber professionals do their jobs better.
Change is Upon Us The truth is that there are so many amazing women (and men!) in Security helping change perceptions and the Cyber landscape itself. And though change may be slow in coming, it is happening. Importantly, the trends are headed in the right direction — hopefully, by the time our own daughters are ready to make decisions about their career prospects, tech and Cybersecurity will be high up on their lists.