The first-ever Cybersecurity Women of the Year Awards

Infosec industry comes together to recognize innovators and leaders
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Thursday, August 1, 2019

ROSEVILLE, Calif.—An influencer, a hacker, a top legal mind and a “barrier breaker” … sounds like the start of a very interesting joke or riddle, doesn’t? But what's even better is these are the names of some of the first recipients of the Cybersecurity Women of the Year (CSWY) awards, held in Las Vegas on August 5 at the Lotus Room in the Luxor Hotel.

The awards will be presented at an inaugural gala during the week of the Black Hat, DEFCON and B-Sides Las Vegas conferences. These conferences bring tens of thousands of industry analysts, hackers, designers, venture capitalists and executives together to discuss risks and threats facing enterprises and society in general. Organizers of the CSWY Awards want to “lighten the mood a bit,” of these conferences by bringing together conference participants for a celebration recognizing women in the security space, doing breakthrough work and transforming the industry. 

A full list of nominees and details on their work can be seen here.

“It is very rare to talk about the achievements and milestones in cybersecurity,” said Carmen Marsh, the organizer of Cybersecurity Women of the Year Awards and CEO of the cyber-risk management company, Inteligenca. “We need to showcase our leaders and how they actually protect businesses and consumers from disasters every day. Those security experts who work in the darkest corners of the digital world deserve their day in the sun.” 

Marsh is also the creator of 100 Women in 100 Days cybersecurity career development program. With support from Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, Marsh and her team developed a free course that provides 100 women with cybersecurity training, accreditation and contacts with leading companies in the industry. The first class started on July 15, 2019 in Sacramento and Marsh sees the CSWY gala as another step towards attracting women to a career in cybersecurity. 

“We think celebrating the accomplishments and achievements in our industry will attract more talent into our field,” Marsh said. “Seeing that there are already women making a difference will resonate with others who maybe have considered a change, but have been scared off for one reason or another. We need to send a powerful, clear message that women are not only welcome but invited to make distinct and meaningful contributions to the security industry.” 

Some of the cybersecurity industry’s largest companies and associations are helping Marsh put together the CWSY event including Microsoft, Intel, Adobe, McAfee, Information Security Systems Association (ISSA), Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and Zeektek. Here’s what some of these company’s professionals are saying about the gala and the industry: 

Ann Johnson, corporate vice president, Cybersecurity Solutions Group, Microsoft Corp.: “Women make only a small percentage of the population in the technology industry. It’s important we recognize the incredible work women are doing that is making an impact in cybersecurity and the industry at large.”

Jim Gordon, GM of Security Ecosystem Strategy & Development, Intel: “With over 300k unfilled cybersecurity positions in the United States alone, in an industry where success is still fleeting, attracting and retaining diverse talent offers hope. Research demonstrates that diverse teams create better and more creative solutions than non-diverse teams — exactly what’s needed in cybersecurity. One element in attracting the next generation of diverse talent, and retaining and promoting the great work from those who deliver today is highlighting the amazing achievement of women in cybersecurity.”

Brad Arkin, chief security officer, Adobe: “Women currently make up only 24 percent of the cybersecurity workforce and in an industry with increasing demand for qualified candidates, we need to be able to attract, train and retain a diverse set of high performing individuals. At Adobe, we believe that diverse teams lead to higher performance and better results. We are continuing to build on our initiatives in diversity, security best practices and education to help fill these high-demand roles, and are proud to sponsor events like the Cybersecurity Woman of the Year Awards to help recognize these amazing women and move faster in addressing the serious need for more women in cybersecurity.”

Jim Reavis, CEO, Cloud Security Alliance: “We would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to the Cybersecurity Woman of The Year program organizers and congratulations to all of the nominees and recipients of the 2019 awards. There is nothing more important in our industry than having the highest-quality workforce to meet the challenges of the future and growing the community of dynamic professional women is an enormous contribution to that goal.”

Candy Alexander, president, ISSA International: “ISSA, which was founded by two women in the mid-1980’s, has always been a strong advocate for women in security! We are excited to support this effort and to honor those women who have risen to great heights.” 

John Stuart, CEO, Zeektek: “In the technical staffing industry, we see great voids in two areas: women in technology and available resources to meet the demands of cybersecurity. Placing women in cybersecurity is a ‘homerun’ and strikes such a positive chord in all organizations. On a very personal note, you are all wonderful role models to young woman and girls; nothing about my career has got the attention of my teenage daughters like ‘Cybersecurity Woman of the Year!’”  

Leslie Gazeley, managing director, KFA: “At KFA we know all too well, that cybersecurity continues to be a growing and increasingly demanding field. We also know that women only make up approximately 20% of the cybersecurity workforce. The Cybersecurity Woman of the Year Awards offers some of these women due recognition and encouragement for not only having embraced the cybersecurity industry but for being trailblazers who actively contribute valuable new perspectives and leadership. The diversity of backgrounds and experiences these women bring can only serve to widen the cybersecurity knowledge base in defending our data and networks. KFA salutes and supports these cybersecurity influencers.” 

There is a lot of excitement among the nominees. Dr. Adriana Sanford, nominee for the “Cybersecurity or Privacy Woman Law Professional of the Year” category, said, “This new era of rapid technological change continues to create unique challenges for governments and corporate executives around the world at an unimaginable pace. As regulators around the globe strive to protect national security and the private sector struggles with new divergent regulations, this awards ceremony encourages more women to realize that they can be part of the solution."