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The Pivotal Moment

In February 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; I had been monitoring countries mandating masks, companies restricting building access, shipping and receiving docks globally were quickly becoming uninhabited, and major cities were sheltering in-place, street signs were signaling to nothing. Empty street

At the time, I was a Data Protection Solutions Marketing Manager Specialist at NetApp. In just a few short weeks, I had an astronomical increase in Business Continuity and Secure Access RFPs to accommodate what was thought to be a short-term, intermediate plan to work from home.

It was then I realized the impact and risk that businesses were facing by sending their employees to work from home. Working from home was no longer a question of whether we can, or should; it was a mandate, and for businesses to survive, they needed to accomplish remote work quickly and securely. I knew then that we had introduced many access and entry points into a company's confidential environment overnight.

The world had just opened Pandora's box by granting remote access from home and any device in any location, including additional entry points for hackers. It was during this time that I wanted to be a part of cybersecurity solutions, and boy did it cascade, and so did my desire to play a role. There were election controversies, critical infrastructure breaches, ransoms reaching all-time highs, and foreign military preparedness becoming essential to protecting citizens. At the same time, global governing mandates and funding were being introduced and shared. Security swiftly became a new war, where the exact technologies designed to innovate and simplify livelihood were turned into cyber warfare and criminal activity.

So here we are, in 2023, in a world where the only constant in cybersecurity is change. Cybercriminals now have more innovative ways to perform more devastating attacks. Cybersecurity threats evolve and the response to those threats. There are constantly new threats, new technologies, new practices, and new governance and compliance requirements, all while keeping current with certifications.

To commemorate Women’s history month 2023, themed “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” I’m here to share how I found my way to cybersecurity and some of my inspirations. In this blog, I provide some valuable resources for women interested in cybersecurity and for young women to get introduced to or started in cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing fields in technology, with global spending increasing by 12% - 15% year-over-year. We have crossed the chasm, there is a greater need for security roles, and we can’t keep up with the demand. The talent gap is an estimated global shortfall of 3.5 million people stunting the growth of this industry. The dramatic rise in cybersecurity demands and the general shortfall in the available talent pool are now opening opportunities for women in the field.

Commemorating women can lead to security opportunities for women everywhere, demonstrating that they have a path to cybersecurity and success in this exciting and expanding field. We can move towards better equity and inspire even more incredible women to excel in the field while empowering Cybersecurity with the diversity it needs to succeed.

My Inspirations

One of my first inspirations was during my tenure at Oracle while working with Oracle’s CISO, Mary Ann Davidson. Mary Ann started at Oracle as a Product Manager in 1988 and has paved the way for women in cybersecurity. In just thirteen years, Oracle appointed her as CSO in December of 2001. During my tenure at Oracle, she set the security standards for Oracle’s products and services. Today, Mary Ann represents Oracle on the board of the Information Technology Information Sharing and Analysis Center and serves on the international board of the Information Systems Security Association, where she has been named to their Hall of Fame. She has testified on cybersecurity to a number of U.S. House and Senate committees.

cybersecurity-marketing-society-logo-4My tribe comes by way of the Cybersecurity Marketing Society. Founded by Maria, Gianna, and Aileento in 2020, the Cybersecurity Marketing Society is a community of fellow cybersecurity marketers designed to address pain points and to share digital cybersecurity marketing best practices and grow cyber security marketing skill sets. This community is enriched with newsletters, meet-ups, slack channels,and they are in the throes of planning their third Cyber Marketing-Con In-Person event. Cybersecurity Marketing Society is created by cybersecurity marketers for cybersecurity marketers and is an excellent resource to collaborate with fellow cybersecurity marketers at all levels.

My Why

I’m a woman whose 35-year career has been spent in a predominantly male world, where I watched diversity evolve and have navigated the globe in many positions with much success.

I am a mother of three daughters and two sons, and it is my goal to protect, guide, and teach them to be leaders in a diverse, innovative world riddled with risk. Getting them started was key, as we have been instrumental in leadership and team building curriculums, including:

  • Girl Scouts
  • Boy Scouts
  • Volleyball
  • Football
  • GirlsWhoCode
  • Homeless Outreaches

With the focus on Women's History month; for young women, the following are three programs to volunteer with and or to get the girls in your world involved:

  • GirlsGoCyberStart is a fun and interactive online program to introduce high school girls to cybersecurity. Topics such as cryptography, password cracking, digital forensics and open-source intelligence gathering are taught to young females to promote interest in the field.
  • GirlsWhoCode is focused primarily on young students looking to programming as a potential career path, but it is working toward addressing the shortage of women in technology fields in general. The group promotes after-school clubs, summer courses, and summer immersion programs.
  • Recently, the Girl Scouts of America has begun offering a cybersecurity merit badge to incentivize young girls to expose themselves to and excel at cybersecurity. The Girl Scouts Research Institute published a report in 2019 called “Decoding the Digital Girl: Defining and Supporting Girls’ Digital Leadership.” It discusses “how girls are using their digital experiences to improve their lives, their communities, and the world.”

And for you, find your tribe, or take the opportunity for some cyber me time: Several professional organizations in cybersecurity were founded to serve the needs of and promote women in the workplace. Some of these are Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC), Women in Cyber Security (WiCyS), and Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management and Security (EWF). WiCyS and EWF have annual conventions to get members together to discuss women’s cybersecurity issues and topics impacting the industry as a whole.

Women only make up 24% of Cybersecurity professionals. However, they are responsible for some of the most critical work in this field. Women are natural multi-taskers, very organized, and vicious investigative protectors.

Making a difference in this cyber warfare!

Woman working in SOC centerMy current role is Director of Campaigns at SimSpace, a place where we help foreign militaries and enterprises prepare for cyber attacks. I thrive knowing that I am a part of the solution that has been instrumental in helping Ukraine and the rest of the world protect their citizens from cyber attacks using a cyber range to simulate threats so they can practice for the real event.

In closing, support each other and build up our future female leaders. It’s Girl Scout Cookie Season. Support a troop purchase some cookies. Pro Tip: did you know that you can donate and not purchase the cookies, and the girl scout gets more from the donation than the purchase of cookies? So, save the calories and spread some dough!

And for those gifting ideas, gift from any of these women-owned businesses here: Gifting from Women owned Businesses

Looking forward to seeing you on the CyberSide!

Blog byCyndi Gutowski
Cyndi Gutowski
Cyndi Gutowski
Cyndi Gutowski is the Director of Campaigns And Launches for SimSpace Corporation. She is an established marketing professional with decades of experience in marketing organizations working within complex B2B business environments involving customer experience, product marketing, campaign management, vendor management, and data analytics.