Friday, October 19, 2007

GHC: Panel: Outstanding Women in Computer Security

This panel had women from both industry and academia: Carol Taylor, Eastern Washington University; Rose Shumba, Indiana Univeristy of Pennsylvania; Kathy Jenks, Sun Microsystems, Inc.; Becky Bace, Infidel . The moderator, Carrie Gates from Computer Associates, asked each woman to start out answering a few set questions. I've captured a few of their answers and related ideas below.

Carol Taylor recommends having a multi-disciplinary background to be successful in computer security field, and she loves the field because there are never ending problems that are very socially oriented.

Rose Shumba said grants from NSF & Cisco really helped her to get involved in information assurance, as they wanted a security lab set up and to have security worked into their courses at IUP, so she really had to dive in and get hands on experience. She recommends that you attend as many conferences you can, including black hat conferences, in order to keep your skills sharp.

Kathy Jenks sort of morphed from an individual contributer developing software into a management role, which eventually led to being in a position to bring up an awesome team of security engineers for the Solaris operating system. (that's the group I'm a member of ;-) To be successful, she recommends being curious, paying attention to the industry and discussing security from an objective perspective.

Becky Bace grew up in the south (North Alabama) and started her own company in 1998 (Infidel). She got into security on accident, by taking a job a friend recommended her for and suddenly found herself working on an early Intrusion Detection System. Since then, she's written two books on security, funded security research programs (like CERIAS at Purdue) and companies, among many other major accomplishments in the industry. Becky Bace mentioned again how important mentoring was to her career success (a repeated theme in this conference!) She sees this as a great field for women, since it is still growing, is very dynamic and has great social implications.

This was a really cool panel - it was so neat to hear from successful women in the industry!

Valerie Fenwick

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