cybersecurityI am Anna Chung, Principal Researcher at Unit 42, Palo Alto Networks’ global threat intelligence team.

For International Women’s Day, I am sharing my thoughts on the importance of women leadership and employment within cybersecurity through personal anecdotes, as well as advice  for other women interested in joining  the technology and cyber industries.

My day-to-day role at Unit 42 requires me to evaluate the global cyberthreat landscape and provide intelligence assessments to enable customers to make strategic decisions. I spend a lot of time as a threat hunter and dark web expert researching new malicious tools, tactics, and procedures discovered by the international security community. My job not only involves tracking the latest threats and attacks, but also understanding cybercriminals’ motivations and methods to then assist      organisations to be better protected and prepared. This will allow business leaders to prioritise their actions, time, and resources. My cybersecurity career spans across fraud in financial technology fields and network security – there is some crossover, but they are fundamentally different, the solutions and strategies are quite diverse.

It might seem very scientific and technical at first, but there is so much more to a career in cybersecurity. Many people associate it with mathematics, coding, and engineering. However, this can lead to the assumption that there are high entry requirements. Now I, for one, was awful at maths during high school and had once received 50 out of 100 in a national entrance exam but I was still able to pursue a career in information security.

Do not be afraid to challenge yourself and stereotypes – pick your own obstacles to overcome.  By doing so, we can move one step forward in making workplaces and society as a whole more inclusive and diverse.  At the same time, it is also so important  to engage with others, ask questions, learn, and celebrate diversity. Stay openminded and take the first step in making yourself part of the changes you want to see in the world.

When I offer advice to women who want to enter this industry or further their cybersecurity career, I  share my experiences, insights, and professional networks with them, so they are well equipped in navigating  through their career progression. They will know how to handle situations better and what  to do next to realise their dreams, goals, and to reach their desired  destination. There is no ‘right way’ to achieving your dreams. I recommend picking the challenges that interest you, rather than those that are imposed on you – remember to always take time out to be kind to yourself.

As a mentor, I see one of my main coaching goals as empowering young women to respect all elements of the cybersecurity industry to better understand their own strengths and weaknesses, because we all have our own attributes as individuals – that is what makes us unique.

To me, a career in cybersecurity develops appreciation for a niche combination of technical abuse and malicious human behaviours. It is both an exciting and demanding role as a very wide range of skills and knowledge are required, which are then harnessed for good purposes.

Anna ChungAbout the author

Anna Chung is a Principal Researcher at Unit 42, the global threat intelligence team at Palo Alto Networks.

 

 

 


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