Friday 27 April 2018

Profile of Veterans - Mary-Jane - WithYouWithMe


By Chief Editor and Blog Manager- Amanda-Jane Turner

Thanks to Amy O’Connor from WithYouWithMe for enabling this article series on veterans and to Mary-Jane for agreeing to be featured in this Profile of Veterans article.

In her youthful fourth decade, Mary-Jane is an army reserve veteran, Mother, cyber security student and Cyber Security Co-ordinator at the WithYouWithMe Academy. Currently working part time she is looking forward to transitioning to full time work in 2019. Previously an Environmental Risk and Compliance auditor, Mary-Jane’s dream job is to work in Cyber security risk management in the Brisbane area.

Mary-Jane is an energised, motivated and intelligent person who is passionate about  raising awareness about privacy and cyber security. As well as her family, work and study she enjoys weight training and also loves to learn.  She enjoys watching security presentations online and cites Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure and Heather Adkins of Google as two of her favourite speakers. She is also an active volunteer supporting Australian Information Security Network and Australian Women in Security Network and she enthusiastically helped at the recent BrisSEC2018 security conference held in Brisbane.

Mary-Jane explained that she has always valued the Australian way of life, privacy, freedom and democracy and since having children and studying cyber security those values have become even more important to her. When asked about the challenges she sees in gaining her dream career she shared that she is motivated and wants to be productive but needs a flexible role. Juggling family and study with work Mary-Jane suggested that to support career progression there needs to be flexible working hours, available affordable after school care and online self-paced courses to support skill development.

Having had a career break and transitioning from her former career as an environmental risk and compliance specialist to cyber security roles, Mary-Jane knew she needed a good plan and support to return to work successfully.  She found that in WithYouWithMe. The organisation has helped her extensively with strategic career planning, industry mentors and training for skills in high demand.  She affirmed that subsequent to that assistance she feels much more productive than she would have been if she had had to do this on her own. 

When asked if there was any organisation she would like to promote as having made a positive impact on her life, Mary-Jane stated that she is a very proud cyber security graduate of the WithYouWithMe Academy and that the Rochester Institute of Technology has also changed the course of her life and connected me with cyber security people across the globe. She highly recommend their courses.

If you want to connect with Mary-Jane you can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter

Picture of Mary-Jane article interviewee

(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.

Friday 13 April 2018

Where are all the women? - Guest post by Lidia Giuliano


By Guest Writer - Lidia Giuliano

 It seems every LinkedIn post I read, or tweet I see, is questioning reasons why women are not presenting (or even submitting) to tech conferences. I wanted to take the time to do a deep dive into this and share some insight on why I feel this occurs. Of course, opinions are my own and I can only draw on my own personal experience.

How do I know what I am talking about? 

Previously I was a technical trainer for Sun Microsystems teaching Solaris Unix, I have put together countless presentations and courses in the workplace and for the InfoSec community for educational purposes and I am also a member of the Black Hat Asia Regional Review Board. Over the past 24 months I have had the privilege to present at some great conferences, such as Black Hat USA, SecTor Canada, and the Diana Initiative, LV. This year I will be keynoting at DevSecCon in Tel Aviv and hopefully a few others which I believe in.

My Own Reasons

Let’s take a look at some of the questions I ask myself and the reasons I submit or do not submit to a tech conference. Before I decide whether I will submit, I ask the following:
  • What does the conference stand for?
  • Are they in the business just to make money?
  • What are they doing for the InfoSec community?
  • What do they offer students or recent grads?
  • Do they offer any education or panels to help n00bs in the industry?
  • If the conference is expensive, do they offer to fly their speakers in and/or pay for their accommodation? 
This last point is an important prerequisite for me because I feel that if a conference can afford to charge $1000+ per ticket and they want to attract quality speakers, then speakers should be compensated. 

Research takes time and is done in our free time, rarely is it done during company hours. Many of us typically don’t care about getting paid if the conference is right, but the expense to get the speaker there and back is important. Otherwise it’s logical you raise the question, “Is this conference in it for the money”? No thanks!

What drives me to submit?

I am picky about which cons I submit to. It’s important I see the company or the association is giving back. Many of us have been in the industry for a long time now, so ask yourself, how is conference helping the community? 
  • I ask myself how my talk will influence or benefit the attendees/participants. Will they learn something? Don’t do it for your own self-gratification! Your audience can see you are fake.
  • Have I passionately worked on something for the past 12+ months or have some knowledge that I would like to share with the InfoSec community?
  • Do I have a passionate belief and/or idea which could enrich others?
  • Would I want to watch my presentation if I attended?
  • What are the takeaways I want my audience to walk away with?
  • The most important thing: will they walk away with something new they can use and benefit from straight away? 

What drives me NOT to submit?

Make sure the conference is in line with your values!! Priority 1.
I will never accept a conference which is vendor-driven or has product pushing I will never present at a conference where they want me to pay to present. Shocking, yes, but this has happened before. These conferences are sadly missing the boat about the true value of their speakers.

If I am invited to talk, I won’t accept if I know the conference is seeking women as gap-fillers. Women want to present as it's deserved. Again, if it’s a high entry conference, I want to see that the organisers are supporting their speakers. 

In my past speaking events, I have always had to take annual leave. Its not very encouraging to submit if you have to pay for your own airfare, accommodation, present your research which you did in your own hours and lose a day’s pay! The above outlines some of the criteria is specific to me, but it will be different for everyone. It’s important it aligns with your own values. 

Challenges We All Face

Looking at the InfoSec community as a whole, I wanted to outline some of the challenges I feel we call face regardless of gender. Presenting can be intimidating for everyone not just women.
  • Lack of confidence and questioning "Are we good enough?" Gotta love Imposter Syndome!
  • OMG what if the audience hates my work!!
  • What if there’s someone smarter in the audience who will call me out?
  • Is my work really that significant? I mean if I can do it, surely someone will, right?!?!
  • I don’t think I could handle any bad feedback!
  • I don’t have anything significant to submit!
  • What will my peers say about me?
 We often tell ourselves we are not making a difference or our contributions are “no big deal”, so what can I present and talk about? I feel everybody has something valuable to add. You don’t need to be a pen tester, break stuff or understand network defence. InfoSec has so many faces and together we all make it work, so that simply needs to be tapped into and understood. 

Specific Challenges Women Face

Women and minority groups have other specific challenges which need to be called out in addition to our male colleagues. Many of these I have experienced first hand, and others I have shared their stories. These range from professional challenges we have experienced in the workplace, or just in the home.

What are some of the professional challenges that women face:

  • A number of women personally feel their companies and peers don’t support them.
  • Many women won’t speak for fear of backlash as there must be some type of motivation behind our wanting to speak. We are criticised for doing so which crushes our self-esteem.
  • Being told you are attending a conference due to your gender only
  • Many women have sadly experienced a situation in which they travel with male colleagues, who have their travel and accommodation paid for, while they need to personally pay for their travel and entry for the same exact event. There is certainly no equality in this!
Just like with training, there should be annual days set aside for conferences so personal leave remains untouched.  Support from our companies can be just as important as support from our families. I personally have spoken at conferences as an “Independent Researcher” for many of the reasons above. For women it’s a different outlook, its personal time off, away from my family, rescheduling the household and spending money to attend. We spend many hours at work and are proud of what we do. We are presenting our own research so there is no risk of legal implication. 

Conferences can be just as important as training; the networking alone can open new doors and business opportunities. Company support and recognition of women’s success is critical.

What are some of the personal challenges that women face balancing work and family:

  • Will my partner support me?
  • Will my partner be jealous if I travel to a conference by myself?
  • If I go, will I have an argument when I get home?
  • Who will look after the kids? I need a baby sitter, I need to reschedule a bunch of things so the kids are taken care of.
  • Will my partner get jealous if my career takes off and theirs does not?
  • I am already the primary wage earner, more attention to my work will cause friction in my relationship!
  • I should put my family first above my career.
  • My husband’s friends could give him a hard time if they know he is supporting my career.
Some of the above points may sound old-school, but the home duties mindset still exists today in many households. Many husbands and partners (not all) still find it hard to see their wife’s role outside of being a mother. Yes, women work full-time, but then it’s home duties and kids. The end! Some partners have control issues if their wives need to travel. Putting it bluntly, “if you are out of sight, what are you really doing”? For many men, and they may not acknowledge this, control is hard to give up. I find it hard too but don’t let fear drive your life. Some partners are very protective and jealous of a successful wife, but if they drop the control and celebrate everyone’s success the relationship grows and stays strong. A lot is changing. We are being more vocal about equality in the workplace, but is it really that way at home? Raising families is not like what it used to be 30-40 years ago. Both partners now need to work to pay a standard mortgage, and both partners will take it in turns taking care of kids. Why should a successful career be any different? 


Presenting at a conference is not for everyone. However, if it’s something you would like to do, consider these closing thoughts:
  • Don’t talk yourself down, it is useless emotion and I promise it won’t help you succeed.
  • You may get rejected a few times before you get accepted, don’t give up.
  • Partner up with someone who has experience in presentations who will help you prepare.
  • Trust in yourself, your work and your research and don’t allow others to judge you. They haven’t earnt the right.
  • Try and meet your audience beforehand, make it personal and see what they want to get out of it (thank you, Caroline Wong, for that great advice).
  • Align yourself with people who support and trust your choices, I can’t stress this enough!! This is half of the battle.
  • There’s only really 1 person that will be judging you and that’s you, so be the best version of yourself.
 Good luck!

If you are interested in writing a guest post for this blog please read the submission guidelines here >> AWSNblog-guest_post_guidelines <<

(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.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Message from AWSN founder - Changes in Leadership

Over the past couple of years, AWSN has grown and developed in more ways than I could ever have imagined. This is thanks to all the volunteers who generously give their time to AWSN, our sponsors, other supporters and most especially, our members.

In creating AWSN, our initial aims were to connect women working in security across Australia and provide them with a supportive platform and community. We hoped that by doing this we could help inspire women from diverse backgrounds and career stages to pursue and stay in security. These aims remains unchanged today, and I am really proud to see how we have been able to progressively bring like minded people together.

Over the past 6 months Michelle Weatherhead, Chris Miller and I have been reviewing how we can best set AWSN up for success into the future and I am really pleased to announce AWSN’s new National Leadership team comprised of a Board and key National Leadership roles.

The Board of Directors are:
·        Chair - Tamsyn Harris
·        Vice Chair - Michelle Mosey
·        Secretary - Marilena Salvo
·        Board member - Thomas Hanbury 

We are still exploring additional capabilities we may need in the Board and will look to appoint further director/s once we have identified the right candidate/s.

The Board will be supported by several key National Leadership roles including: 
·        Special projects manager - Jacqui Loustau
·        National events manager - Tory Lane

In addition we will have two National Communications roles who will continue to help connect and support our members: 
·        Social media manager - Chris Miller
·        National blog manager - Mandy Turner

Over the past couple of months we have also had a number of changes in our state based chapters and I would like to summarise our current Chapter Leads:
·        Sydney - Mairead Bourke, Johanna Williamson, Alexandra Venardos, Heather Hoddinott
·        Melbourne - Linda Li, Emma Neville, Renee Gaspar
·        Canberra - Chris Miller, Christina (Tina) Rose, Amy Roberts
·        Perth - Sam Moody, Georgie Cooke, Cairo Malet
·        Brisbane - Sheena Downey, Mandy Turner, Sarah Hufnagel 

I would like to thank and acknowledge a number of the people who have made significant contributions over the years to getting us to where we are today. A number of these people will continue to be actively involved in AWSN but in different capacities in future.
Helaine Leggat
- Yvonne Sears
- Yvette Lejins
- Claire Pales
- Heide Young
- Jodie Siganto 
- Fatemah Beydoun 
Finally, a big thank you must go to Michelle Weatherhead and Chris Miller who have worked tirelessly over the past few years to help us make the AWSN what it is today.

This is a really exciting time for AWSN and I know a number of you may have questions and want to get to know the new leadership team. We plan on sharing further information on the Board’s priorities and how everyone can get involved in the coming weeks, but in the meantime please join me in welcoming our new national and chapter leaders. 

Kind Regards,
Jacqui Loustau
(Founder AWSN)

(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.