Friday 23 March 2018

AWSN -amazing group of security professionals

Post by Guest writer Heide Young


….these are the core values of AWSN and the standards of the members. That might sound a bit cheesy and like an opportunity to sell you on AWSN, but let me tell you my story…

A few years ago I started paying attention to news articles about how this company or that company was breached by hackers. It occurred to me that I am so dependant on technology, it’s pretty much attached to every aspect of my life and my home…even my home security is online and assessable from my mobile. And then it occurred to me that I have no idea how to keep all my and my family’s valuable information secure.

I wanted to learn how hackers hacked. My thought process was if I knew how they could ‘break in’ then I could secure it.

Now let’s back it up a minute…you should know I come from absolutely no technical background. Even my husband used to joke that I went from never backing up my tech gear to learning to hack haha ….so in my usual mindset to start with the end in mind, but I’m too impatient and tried to rush the process, which meant enrolling in CEH. I gave it a good go and it was eye opening all the tools and techs and how ‘easy’ it was to just download your hacking program of choice and voila off you go. Which scared the crap out of me even more!

I joined AWSN and started getting more involved in the Cyber Security community and was in awe of all the knowledge I was absorbing at every event and meetup. Now I have been to a ridiculous amount of full on technical, hacking, CTF meetups and I try, really try, but they are on another level. But everyone is so welcoming and excited by the challenge to explain it in layman terms for me J I feel like a kid learning new tricks at the playground every time I learn a little more on cyber security.

For me it’s all about learning to keep myself and my family secure and making it relatable to everyday life.

Now going back to me not being technical, my career has been relationship management and business development focused. I was fortunate enough to combine my career skills with my cyber security passion, taking on growing Greythorn recruitment’s cyber security capabilities. I was even more fortunate to have one-ups and two-ups who were the kind of people every professional dreams of reporting to.

I’m a full-time working mom, and I think it’s important to share that I didn’t experience discrimination till I became a mom. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I fully understood the real meaning of feminism till I experienced discrimination. It was a very hard time and I cannot begin to explain how it affected my and my family’s life. Lucky for me I have an encouraging husband, who’s advice I finally listened to and left.

Since then, it has been my focus to assist others who are in difficult career situations by either advising or connecting them with other professional who can better advise.

AWSN membership base is incredibly diverse, both women and men, some parents, some not, experienced working professionals, and new grads. They span from technical to non-technical professions from entry level to CISO level. It is such an amazing way to connect with people.

For me, it has helped me personally and professionally by expanding my knowledge and growing my cyber security network. I have previously talked about from recruitment perspective women need a bit more encouragement and confidence to just go for it, even when don’t tick all the boxes – and I’m including myself in that statement. AWSN members have given me opportunities to have more confidence and just go for it, even when I didn’t have it in myself. I still remember a particular pep talk from a female member, and anytime I hesitate I remember her words of encouragement, empowering me to believe in myself and go for it. Because I listened to this wise woman and went for it, what it has done for my career has been phenomenal.

I recently relocated to Dubai, which was quite daunting at first, as I didn’t have many contacts here. However, as soon as I told AWSN members, nearly everyone had helpful advice and even referred me to people in their networks in Dubai as well as cyber security groups in the area. I was overwhelmed with the amount of support from AWSN members.

This wonderful amazing group of cyber security professionals is an incredible platform for empowering women through connecting, supporting, collaborating and inspiring. 

(c) AWSN 2018

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.

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