Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Bridging the gap between uni and industry - AWSN Cadets

By Jacqui Loustau, Founder and one of the Directors of the Australian Women in Security Network

I remember when I was at school, I always questioned why I was learning certain subjects (typical teenager I guess..!). Why we had to study maths, why I had to learn french. I didn't understand the importance as I couldn't apply it to real life situations. When I started uni, studying the Bachelor of Information Systems, I was lucky enough to also work part time at Australia Post in their helpdesk. It was then that I started to understand the point of all this learning.

Having a curiosity for technology is one thing, but to understand why you need to know something can enhance your learning considerably. Being able to apply and understand how things operate and work can be a great advantage before entering the workforce. 

Being in a male dominated field can sometimes make it intimating for some females to fit in and can make some of us shy away from asking questions in the fear that we will be judged. 

The importance of role models and finding great mentors is vital. To see someone working in an area and to understand what their everyday job entails can help shape where you want to go in the future. 

The AWSN Cadets brings together female students from different universities interested pursuing a career in the information security space.
It provides a safe environment to:
- meet others with similar interests and challenges
-  facilitate networking opportunities to help apply study into real life and relevant industry contexts
- practice hands-on technical skills
- helps broaden perspective and provides real insights into what it’s like to work in cyber security

- connect with industry
- build confidence

We are about to complete our first AWSN Cadets pilot programme - 5 technical workshops on the basics of malware reverse engineering. Our first mentor Noushin Shabab has been teaching us the difference between static and dynamic analysis, the tools analysts would use in order to understand and dissect what malware does. These have been very interesting sessions, and have helped these students understand why file types, address of entry points and size of code matter! 

To get this rare insight to what a malware reverse engineer does in her every day job is fascinating. I wish I had known this years ago, my life may have taken a different path! 
We are thankful for Noushin and our future mentors for the time they are giving in order to pass their knowledge onto to us.

The last session will have various companies come and present on what they do as a malware reverse engineer at their company. This helps provide different perspectives on what this type of job entails.

The group of maximum of 10, meets every fortnight and each topic runs for approx. 5 weeks after hours.Future topics currently lined up are penetration testing, blue teaming and digital forensics.The initiative is run and supported by Kaspersky labs, ANZ, Telstra and PWC.

We will be opening future places over the next few months. Places are strictly limited and selective due to the nature of what is being taught. If you are interested in participating, finding out more information or becoming a mentor, then please contact our AWSN cadet leaders Elizabeth Bonny and Diane Loi at:

Testimony from an AWSN Cadet:

The AWSN Cadets technical workshops with Noushin Shabab have been a rare and valuable opportunity for me to expand my info sec horizons! I have experienced a completely different side of the information security industry - malware reverse engineering - that I may not have otherwise had exposure to as a university student. The small class size of 10 students also means that you really get to know both your peers and the industry mentor well. I feel like I've formed some great friendships as a consequence.  
Thoroughly recommend AWSN Cadets and their workshops for their content, networking opportunities, and support - you'd be hard pressed to find opportunities like this anywhere else for tertiary female students interested in all things information security!" 

(c) AWSN 2017

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Stay Smart Online Week 9 - 13 October 2017 #SSOW17

The Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) encourages everyone to be diligent with their safety and security online. Stay Smart Online, an initiative of the Australian Government, provides information on how to be safer online and has an alerts service as well as a national awareness week to promote more secure online practices. The 9 to 13 October 2017 is Stay Smart Online Week #SSOW17 and AWSN is pleased to share the tips to stay smart online,

Your personal and financial information — like your address,
birthday or telephone number — can be used by cyber
criminals, so limit the personal information you share online.
¨    Check the privacy settings on your social media accounts and apps to control the amount and type of information you want to share.
¨    Use a separate email address for shopping, discussion groups and newsletters.

¨    Only share your primary email address with people you know.

For more information check out Protect yourself at www.staysmartonline.gov.au

 This post has been created by Amanda-Jane Turner on behalf of AWSN. 

(c) AWSN 2017

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Monday, 2 October 2017

AWSN Announcement: AWSN Brisbane chapter

AWSN is organically evolving to continue to connect, support, collaborate and inspire and we appreciate all support past, present and future. Today we announce a change in the Brisbane Chapter Lead, and give thanks to those who have been instrumental in getting AWSN started in Brisbane.

Thanks to Sheena Downey PMP and Sarah Hufnagel for organising the last brissy meet up and giving the AWSN Brisbane chapter a great start! Also thanks to Jodie Siganto  for the first AWSN Brisbane meeting last year.

We are pleased to announce that Amanda-Jane Turner (Mandy) will now be leading the Brisbane chapter with support from both Sheena and Sarah.

If you are in Brisbane and are keen to join, Mandy has lots of great ideas and an amazing passion for our cause. Please reach out to her if you want to be involved. 

(c) AWSN 2017

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

AWSN Announcement: AWSN national events manager

We would like to thank Claire Pales (Fulford) for the terrific work she has done as the AWSN national events manager for the past year. Everyone has appreciated her passion, professionalism, her insightful blogs and her amazing ability to organise events nationwide. 
Claire will be concentrating on some very exciting projects. 
and will be handing over the AWSN events manager role to Heide Young from October 2017. 
Please join us in thanking Claire for the time she has dedicated to our cause and please help support Heide in her new role at AWSN.
- Jacqui Laustou, AWSN Founder 

(c) AWSN 2017

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Diversity - harness the differences to work together and achieve greatness

By Amanda-Jane Turner - Chief Editor and Manager of the AWSN official blog

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”-  Mother Theresa
I passionately believe in a diverse workforce and community to embrace all types of people with all sorts of education, personality, gender, race and culture to make the world better. Harnessing a diverse workforce gives access to skills, innovation and networks that otherwise may not be open to us; a diverse group together can achieve great things. 

Without diversity, workplaces and communities have the same types of people in the same types of roles doing the same things, with no new ideas, skills or positive disruption to encourage a change for the better.

Without diversity our ideas are never challenged, we will not learn and grow, we will stagnate and lose innovation.

I firmly believe that diversity is much more than gender, it is personality, beliefs, culture, race, education, ability and disability, background and preferences - it is acceptance and embracing of differences that can be harnessed to improve our work and our world.  What can we do to make diversity accepted and disrupt the stereotypes?

 This post has been created by A. Turner

(c) AWSN 2017

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The need for cyber security role models globally

By Claire Fulford

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton

Earlier this year, members of the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) along with industry peers, participated in a Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) event focused on women in cyber.  PM&C invited participants to respond to several questions, to understand and address the causes of low participation by women in cyber security careers. This was a key action outlined in Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy, under the theme of A Cyber Smart Nation.

During the event, questions were discussed in roundtable settings followed by panel discussions to bring key points to the larger group.

The first question asked was ‘What are the barriers to women choosing cyber security careers?  What can be done to address these barriers?’ One of the key outtakes was that “both within the industry and externally, role models and mentors were a significant factor for participants pursuing a career in cyber security. These role models or mentors were not always female, some participants described males who had encouraged and supported them in their endeavours. Importantly, participants noted that role models could be anyone in their lives, from parents, to friends, to management staff, to people they had never met”.

Interestingly, ISACA’s (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) 2017 Global Survey of Women in Tech asked a similar question regarding to barriers for women in technology in general.  Almost half of participants raised a lack of mentors and role models as the top two barriers to entry. 

Finally, the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study: Women in Cybersecurity – sponsored by (ISC)2 and Booz Allen Hamilton had 19,641 respondents from 170 countries, likely making it the largest study of its kind ever conducted.   The study indicated that 61% of women surveyed reported job satisfaction and more likelihood to succeed in their careers when mentoring, training, sponsorship and leadership programs were available.

The correlation between how women feel about their role in the industry and the offering of mentorship and support is clear across the globe.

In August, the Australian Women in Security Network will host a panel discussion at the Gartner Security & Risk Summit.  The panel will compromise of male and female AWSN members providing their feedback on their roles as mentors and role models in the industry and the impact of great mentoring relationships. When landing on a panel topic, we saw the PM&C commentary about the need for mentors and role models as a key outcome – and one that should be talked about more broadly.

With many incredible leaders in the industry, and some emerging talent to be harnessed, the AWSN is always encouraging mentoring conversations and highlighting the great work of some of Australia’s cyber security role models.  If you are having trouble finding a mentor, please reach out here, join us at Gartner in Sydney on 22 August or alternatively, let us know how mentors have made an impact in your career?

(c) AWSN 2017

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

ARTICLE SERIES - Highlights of AWSN - interview with Iresha Fernando

By Amanda-Jane Turner, Chief Editor & National Blog Manager of the official AWSN Blog

The Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) was founded only a couple of years ago by Jacqui Loustau and yet is already maturing into a respected association supporting and encouraging diversity in the security industry. It is with great pleasure that the AWSN shares with you the following interview with long-term supporter, social media manager and active member of the AWSN, Iresha Fernando.

It was early 2016, and Iresha was seeking some type of networking group that mentored and encouraged women, when she received an invitation to attend a networking lunch. Seeing it as a good opportunity to build and strengthen her career network she accepted. AWSN was in its infancy and Iresha did not know what to expect or what a networking group would even look like or operate. Iresha was pleasantly surprised that there were others like herself at the networking event looking not only to gain support but also to provide it and share their own experiences. She saw passionate leaders and mentors who willingly shared their time and ideas to help ‘newbies’ like her. Iresha quickly realised that AWSN is the perfect group for her to be a part of to build her professional network and confidence.

A year on from this and Iresha has attended several AWSN facilitated networking events and because of AWSN has met and been inspired by many experienced women in the security industry. She credits the support of AWSN with building her confidence and presentation skills and for the first time in her life had the opportunity to present at a university. AWSN soon had her managing social media for the group which has honed her skills and increased her confidence further. Additionally, this has led to good recognition in the office (balancing work and D&I in the group) which lead her gain a well-deserved promotion at her paid employment. All this within a very short time being with the company. Most importantly Iresha said is that AWSN helped her to find a good mentor who trusts in her.

Iresha emphasised that AWSN ensures that there are people out there to help no matter who you are or what your background is.  Iresha added that she likes and respects the committee/leaders of AWSN group and states that they are a bunch of humble women who are trying to build a better career place for other women.

AWSN highlights for Iresha are the Go Girl For IT participation and when Jacqui won the AISA Diversity award in 2016.

Iresha is proud to be a part of AWSN and happily shares how the network has made her believe in herself and help her achieve things she had not thought possible.

(c) AWSN 2017

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency, organisation or association.