Dean Jelena Kovačević appears at the Fifth Annual Women Leaders in Cybersecurity Conference

Cybersecurity Women Leaders on Zoom

Picture a roomful of preeminent cybersecurity experts. If the tableau you imagine includes only somber-suited men, you’ll have to think again. While there’s admittedly still a shortage of women going into the vital field — according to the 2019 ISC2 Cybersecurity Workforce Report, women are filling only 24 percent of the nation’s cybersecurity roles — their numbers are increasing, and more and more, they’re taking on leadership roles.

Several of those women leaders recently took part in a virtual conference moderated by Judith H. Germano, a professor in the NYU master’s program in Cybersecurity Risk & Strategy and a member of the NYU Center for Cybersecurity (CCS). The conference aimed to bring together industry thought leaders to discuss critical cybersecurity issues from technological, legal, policy, and business perspectives; to provide women with a visible platform that reflects efforts to increase the number of women and people of color in the field; and to inspire all women to enter and advance in cybersecurity and other STEM fields.

Among the heavy-hitting participants was Tandon’s Dean Jelena Kovačević, who explained: “We know that diverse teams have better success at handling and responding to crises, including cybersecurity events.... so while there has been progress in advancing women’s voices and leadership roles in cybersecurity, more work still needs to be done.” 

The other panelists included:

  • Jennifer Buckner Senior Vice President of Technology Risk Management at Mastercard
  • Caroline Krass, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at AIG, whose CV includes posts at the CIA, U.S. Department of Justice, and White House, where she served as a Special Counsel to the U.S. President for National Security
  • Kim Peretti, Partner at Alston & Bird and Co-Chair of the Cybersecurity Preparedness & Response Team and National Security & Digital Crimes Team
  • Debora Plunkett, Principal of Plunkett Associates and Member of the NYS Cybersecurity Advisory Board
  • Alicia Lowery Rosenbaum, Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Cybersecurity Technology and Trust at SalesForce and Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity
  • Rinki Sethi, Vice President and CISO of Twitter
  • Myrna Soto, Chief Strategy and Trust Officer of Forcepoint

All agreed that cybersecurity requires an interdisciplinary approach, with input from, and collaboration among, engineers, technical experts, legal advisors, business strategists and policy makers — exactly the philosophy that drives work at the CCS and the reason Tandon has made it an area of research excellence, spanning multiple departments and disciplines. Dean Jelena pointed out that initiatives like the Master’s in Cybersecurity Risk & Strategy executive degree program (a joint collaboration between NYU Tandon and NYU School of Law), the online CyberFellows program, and the myriad other cybersecurity offerings across the school constituted solid proof that a diverse and interdisciplinary approach to this critical issue is more effective than a unilateral one. 

“Evolving technologies, such as 5G wireless, digital manufacturing, healthcare and more are shaping how we live, communicate, and work, but they are also opening up vast new threat landscapes,” she said, touching upon the importance of the issues discussed during the event. “It is increasingly evident that cybersecurity must be prioritized as an aspect of our everyday lives be it business decision-making or as a key component of enterprise risk management and strategy.  After years of being relegated as an IT issue, cybersecurity now is taking center stage at organizations, across industries, and in government.”