With many thanks to Mari Galloway, CEO of the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu, Aviva Zacks of Safety Detectives learned all about her organization’s work in creating a community for females in the cybersecurity industry.
Safety Detectives: How did your experience at the Department of Homeland Security help shape your career?
Mari Galloway: It gave me a different perspective in cybersecurity and tech from a national security side. I got to see the bigger picture of how we have to protect our national security, how we have to protect the government, how we have to protect that infrastructure. That drove me to want to get more into learning about industrial control systems and SCADA and how those kinds of systems need protection and get more into vulnerability management.
SD: What does the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu do to help empower women to succeed in the cybersecurity industry?
MG: We’re a big old family. We pride ourselves on being a community for women that are looking to enter or that are already in the industry but need support and resources. We provide hands-on training because we know that having hands-on experience is what helps people be successful in the industry. We want people to feel more empowered to do more and to go after those challenges that they probably would not have gone after before.
SD: What are the challenges that you run into in your organization?
MG: One of our biggest challenges is funding. We see a lot of women that can’t afford to get some of the more costly training and they really want to get into the industry, and so that’s been one of our biggest challenges over the years since 2012. We provide training, but some of them want to take training at The Learning Tree or with SANS and they don’t have the funding. We don’t necessarily have the funding to help all 3,000 members, so that’s probably the biggest challenge for us.
SD: What do you think are the worst cyberthreats out there today?
MG: When you work from home, your security isn’t as strong as it is in an office. Secondly, I think there’s more time for the bad guys to hack into systems now and target people with phishing because everybody is working from home. Lastly, a lot of organizations are getting caught with ransomware.
SD: Why do you feel your organization is so important in light of the pandemic?
MG: We offer a way for someone who’s completely new to cyber to learn inexpensively on their own time from the comfort of their own home. We’re able to reach into some of those more rural areas where there are women out there who want to do cyber but they’re not close enough to a city where they can actually go physically to a cybersecurity event or conference. We offer that ability from their home. We’ve always offered that virtual option for people across the country and around the world that just may not have access to the resource, and so, during the pandemic that just amplified what we already were doing.