Cheryl Biswas: Diversifying Cybersecuity
You better watch out
Oh, what you wish for It better be worth it So much to die for Hey, so glad you could make it Yeah, now you've really made it Hey, there's only us left now
--Hole – 1997, Celebrity Skin
What if I told that… compared to men, higher percentages of women cybersecurity professionals are reaching some of the most sought after positions in security. Among the security workforce, the population of women in key spots is surging…
Chief Technology Officer
Vice President of IT
C-level / Executive
Women in cybersecurity are generally more educated and younger than their male colleagues. 44% of men in cybersecurity hold a post-graduate degree compared to 52% of women. Also, nearly half of women cybersecurity professionals surveyed are millennials – 45% compared to 33% of men. By contrast, Generation X men make up a bigger percentage of the workforce (44%) than women (25%)
Now… what if I told you that the gender pay gap hasn't moved at all. Women still make less than men. according to the 2018 (ISC)2report, women make $5,000 less than men in security management positions.
It is this environment that spurred a group of women to create The Diana Initiative.
In this week’s episode of InSecurity, Matt Stephenson chats with Cheryl Biswas on why the time was right to co-create The Diana Initiative. Now, 4 years later, Diana has a new home and is key part of that stretch of August where the cybersecurity world convenes in Las Vegas to figure out how to save the world. Their mission is to encourage diversity and support women who want to pursue careers in information security, promote diverse and supportive workplaces, and help change workplace cultures.
About The Diana Initiative
It was the summer of 2015. Hackers from around the world had gathered in Las Vegas, NV for DEF CON 23. In the cafeteria tucked away in the basement of Bally’s and Paris, 9 women found themselves chatting and laughing about their experiences in the field of Information Security. They were all passionate about their challenging roles in the male-dominated field and began exchanging strategies for success in their challenging environments. It was then and there that they accepted their new mission: to create a conference for all those who identify as women/non binaries, and to help them meet the challenges that come with being a woman in Information Security with resilience, strength and determination.
The first event in 2016 began with a morning speaking track and an afternoon of lockpicking and badge soldering in a small suite at Bally’s, bringing attendees together in a collaborative, comfortable setting. Interest and attendance showed that demand for a woman-focused InfoSec conference existed.
In 2017, The Diana Initiative was formed and the conference expanded to cover almost 2 days – with speakers on the evening of the first day, as well as the entire second day. There was also a hands-on opportunity for learning about lockpicking, a Career village, and fun contests.
During the summer of 2018, The Diana Initiative conference soared in popularity. But with this incredible growth and popularity, the space still couldn’t meet the demand, as attendees were continuously turned away due to over capacity of all the suites.
About Cheryl Biswas
Cheryl Biswas’s (@3ncr1pt3d) fascination with computers started with those blinking machines on the original Star Trek, and the realization that, if she could learn to work those things, then she could boldly go – anywhere! But Cheryl didn’t learn math like everyone else and found herself struggling. She mistakenly believed a few key people who convinced her that she couldn’t learn computers, so she didn’t take programming or comp sci. They were wrong, though. Curiosity and passion led Cheryl to technology through the back door and she taught herself computers.
Currently, Cheryl is a Threat Intel analyst on a cybersecurity team, researching, analysing, and communicating her discoveries to the team and to clients to keep them safe. GRC, privacy, APTs, best practices, evolving threats – the learning never stops. Cheryl is an active writer and speaker about threats to less-known but critical systems like ICS SCADA and Mainframes, Shadow IT and Big Data.
You may have seen her present at some of the most important security conferences including BSides Las Vegas and Toronto, DEFCON, ShmooCon and SecTor.
About Matt Stephenson
Insecurity Podcast host Matt Stephenson (@packmatt73) leads the Security Technology team at Cylance, which puts him in front of crowds, cameras, and microphones all over the world. He is the regular host of the InSecurity podcast and host of CylanceTV
Twenty years of work with the world’s largest security, storage, and recovery companies has introduced Matt to some of the most fascinating people in the industry. He wants to get those stories told so that others can learn from what has come
Every week on the InSecurity Podcast, Matt interviews leading authorities in the security industry to gain an expert perspective on topics including risk management, security control friction, compliance issues, and building a culture of security. Each episode provides relevant insights for security practitioners and business leaders working to improve their organization’s security posture and bottom line.
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