Intelligence in Cyber Career Tips
Echelon Cyber Athena Smiles for Cybersecurity

WiCyS 2024 Conference Recap: Athena Smiles for Cybersecurity

As a child intrigued by the stories of Greek mythology, the figure of Athena—born from the mind of Zeus, embodying wisdom, and courage—captured my imagination.

This connection to Athena felt particularly profound as I stepped into the Nashville Parthenon on my way to the recent Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) Conference. It felt as if the goddess herself was leading me into an arena where modern-day warriors, equipped with keyboards and code, fight against digital threats. 

At WiCyS 2024, the atmosphere was vibrant as attendees from diverse backgrounds converged with a shared goal: strengthening the cybersecurity domain. Among many interesting sessions, two presentations were delivered by women in cybersecurity from Echelon.

AI Detectives: The Vanguard of Social Media Forensics

My session, "AI Detectives: The Vanguard of Social Media Forensics," aimed to explain the role of artificial intelligence in cybersecurity, specifically in social media contexts. We began with an engaging case study, illustrating how AI tools can comb through social media to pinpoint cybercriminals. 

We also explored how AI language models are more than just tools; they are partners in the pursuit of truth, capable of detecting misinformation, analyzing sentiment, and identifying emerging trends. We discussed practical applications in detail, such as uncovering patterns of cyberbullying, identifying dating scams and deep fake posts.

The session aimed to be interactive and engaging, using pop culture references to draw parallels between AI's capabilities and familiar narratives from movies and literature. This approach made the information both understandable and engaging for a younger audience. 

The discussion ended with a forward-looking perspective on AI in digital forensics. This part aimed to provide actionable insights and strategic takeaways for the attendees, empowering them with knowledge to tackle complex cybersecurity challenges in their respective fields.

The Little ERG That Could: Building a Women in Cybersecurity Group from Scratch

The second standout session was led by Shir Butbul and Amy Jo Fisher, who shared their experiences and challenges in fostering a Women in Cybersecurity Employee Resource Group (ERG) within Echelon. Starting with only three women in a thirty-person team, their efforts led to a doubling of the group's membership within three months, a motivating example of what can be accomplished through determination and support. 

Their talk detailed the journey from the ERG's inception to its impactful presence within the company, emphasizing the strategic importance of creating a supportive community that champions allyship, empowerment, and belonging.

They offered a blueprint for establishing similar groups, discussing the crucial role of executive support and the effective strategies for building relationships and community of women through the ERG. Furthermore, they highlighted how such initiatives not only support professional growth but also contribute significantly to the broader cybersecurity community.

Reflecting on the Journey

The WiCyS 2024 conference was not merely a professional gathering but a profound confluence of stories and experiences, where every narrative thread revealed deeper truths about our world and ourselves. Meeting other women who have navigated similar paths and overcome common obstacles reinforced my belief in the power of community and the critical role of mentorship and support in advancing our field. 

Departing Nashville, I was filled with a profound sense of empowerment, inspired by the powerful voices and shared wisdom of fellow women in cybersecurity. Just like Athena, celebrated not just for her martial strength but for her profound wisdom, the future of cybersecurity hinges on our intelligence, strategic thinking, and dedication to safeguarding our digital realms.

This conference reinforced the notion that in the realm of technology, we are all learners and mentors, perpetually exchanging knowledge and collaboratively forging paths towards a more secure future. This collective journey, driven by the strength and insight of women, is shaping a more inclusive and resilient cybersecurity landscape.

I urge all women and girls interested in cybersecurity to consider joining WiCyS, attending local meetings, and becoming active members of this empowering community. Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting your journey in cybersecurity, WiCyS provides invaluable opportunities for growth, mentorship, and networking. By participating in these events, you can gain visions, share experiences, and contribute to a stronger, more diverse cybersecurity field. Together, we can continue to inspire and support each other, creating a safer digital world for everyone.

Sign up to get Cyber Intelligence Weekly in your inbox.