Adobe @ the Women in Cybersecurity Conference (WiCyS)

Adobe sponsored the recent Women in Cyber Security Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia.  Alongside two of my colleagues, Julia Knecht and Kim Rogers, I had the opportunity to attend this conference and meet the many talented women in attendance.   

The overall enthusiasm of the conference was incredibly positive.  From the presentations and keynotes and into the hallways in between, discussion focused on the general knowledge spread about the information security sector and the even larger need for more resources in the industry, which dovetailed into the many programs and recruiting efforts to help more women and minorities, who are focused on security, to enter and stay in the security field.  It was very inspiring to see so many women interested in and working in security.

One of the first keynotes, presented by Jenn Lesser Henley, Director of Security Operations at Facebook, immediately set the inspiring tone of the conference with a motivational presentation which debunked the myths of why people don’t see security as an appealing job field.  She included the need for better ‘stock images’, which currently portray those in security working in a dark, isolated room on a computer, wearing a balaclava, which of course is very far from the actual collaborative engaging environment where security occurs.  The security field is so vast and growing in different directions that the variety of jobs, skills and people needed to meet this growth is as much exciting as it is challenging.  Jenn addressed the diversity gap of women and minorities in security and challenged the audience to take action in reducing that gap…immediately.  To do so, she encouraged women and minorities to dispel the unappealing aspects of the cyber security field by surrounding themselves with the needed support or a personal cheerleading team, in order to approach each day with an awesome attitude.

Representation of attendees seemed equally split across industry, government and academia.  There was definitely a common goal across all of us participating in the Career and Graduate School Fair to enroll and/or hire the many talented women and minorities into the cyber security field, no matter the company, organization, or university.   My advice to many attendees was to simply apply, apply, apply.

Other notable keynote speakers included:

  • Sherri Ramsay of CyberPoint who shared fascinating metrics on cyber threats and challenges, and her thoughts on the industry’s future. 
  • Phyllis Schneck, the Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security, who spoke to the future of DHS’ role in cybersecurity and the goal to further build a national capacity to support a more secure and resilient cyberspace.  She also gave great career advice to always keep learning and keep up ‘tech chops’, to not be afraid to experiment, to maintain balance and find more time to think. 
  • Angela McKay, Director of Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy at Microsoft, spoke about the need for diverse perspectives and experiences to drive cyber security innovations.  She encouraged women to recognize the individuality in themselves and others, and to be adaptable, versatile and agile in changing circumstances, in order to advance both professionally and personally. 

Finally, alongside Julia Knecht from our Digital Marketing security team, I presented a workshop regarding “Security Management in the Product Lifecycle”.  We discussed how to build and reinforce a security culture in order to keep a healthy security mindset across a company, organization and throughout one’s career path.  Using our own experiences working on security at Adobe, we engaged in a great discussion with the audience on what security programs and processes to put into place that advocate, create, establish, encourage, inspire, prepare, drive and connect us to the ever evolving field of security.  More so, we emphasized the importance of communication about security both internally within an organization, and also externally with the security community.  This promotes a collaborative, healthy forum for security discussion, and encourages more people to engage and become involved.

All around, the conference was incredibly inspiring and a great stepping stone to help attract more women and minorities to the cyber security field.

Wendy Poland
Product Security Group Program Manager

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