What Hooked You on Cybersecurity

Posted by Kathleen Smith

FacebookAs part of our support for the Women in Cybersecurity Conference, we interviewed key women security leaders on their careers and experience in the industry, including several Facebook cyber professionals.

What Initially Interested You in Cybersecurity

“I studied Information Systems as an undergrad, which gave the opportunity to take both business and technical courses. During my junior year I took a class taught by the department chair who was working on a bank fraud case with the FBI. My professor became a role model for me and she asked me to be a research assistant for a book she was writing. This experience hooked me.”

– Betsy Bevilacqua, Security Risk Manager

“I took Programming in high school to get out of taking math classes. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t really seem to me like something I wanted to pursue as a career. In college, I was a studio art and dance major, but somehow ended up taking principles of objects oriented programming, and did well. I decided to continue taking CS classes on the side. Eventually, I found myself failing out of my art classes and spending more and more time working on my CS homework and extra research. When I took a networks course, I connected CS to ‘The Internet.’ I was immediately intrigued and discovered honeypots and malware analysis through self-lead study. From there I was hooked.”

– Jackie Bow, Security Engineer

“Somewhat by luck, I started a Masters in Security program in Greece, my home country. I quickly realized a career in security would allow me to do something important: protecting people. I eventually moved to privacy and through an internship with Facebook, I learned about online safety and how my skillset could be used to protect people so they can be themselves online without the risk of harm in the physical world. My journey from security to privacy to ultimately to safety was a long one, but I’ve learned so many things and I finally found my Ithaca.”

– Eleni Gessiou, Security Engineer

“I started in security by chance. I like to say that I landed in security. I graduated college with a degree in computing engineering and my first job was working in a small company as a network field engineer. Working for a small company gave me the opportunity to work on a lot of different things — from structured cabling projects to complex network designs. I don’t think of myself as a ‘hacker,’ but as a problem solver. I saw security a very challenging problem to solve and one that touched pretty much every layer of infrastructure. Whether you like application development, networking, intrusion detection, forensics or system hardening, there is a place in security where a difficult problem needs to be solved.”

– Alejandra Quevedo, Security Engineer

In Hindsight Would You Approach Your Career Differently

“The path I took gave me the skills for the work I do now. People tend to think security is only about breaking into systems with two commands in five minutes or reverse engineering some sophisticated malware. But there is a whole other side to the security industry that doesn’t make it to headlines and can be the source of many security problems for most organizations. System hardening, secure design, vulnerability management, network security, configuration management and even the operational and human aspects of security are areas that school programs do not necessarily prepare people to go into. My background doing systems and networking gave me an understanding on the operational side so I can work with other teams whose function is to keep the lights on, to do it in the most secure way possible.”

– Alejandra Quevedo, Security Engineer

WicysFor more information on the Women in Cybersecurity Conference, visit





This entry was posted on Thursday, March 10, 2016 8:36 am

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