Krishna Bahirwani speaks to Sneha Rajguru the founder of Winja, a platform which celebrates women in the field of Information Security
India has a shortage of 5 lakh cybersecurity professionals; one of the largest vacancies across all sectors in the country. According to the latest data from (ISC)2, today, just 10% of information security professionals worldwide are women; despite the fact that women are getting more high-profile roles in the industry and that there are plenty of job opportunities.
The ratio of women in cybersecurity in India is even worse. With an objective to change this, Sneha Rajguru started Winja, a capture the flag event and a platform to represent and celebrate women in the field of Information Security.
“Winja is a combination of the words woman and ninja. Winja takes up the efforts to understand the challenges a woman in IT and cybersecurity faces. It focuses on the hard and soft skills a woman needs to have/develop in order to prevent a cybersecurity attack or strengthen the security. Winja works on understanding the factors affecting career advancements and getting the best solution possible. It looks into the efforts IT companies undertake to provide a platform to women in IT and cybersecurity and also highlights activities and initiatives that are and should be conducted for encouraging women to take a step ahead,” said Sneha.
“As a woman in cybersecurity, with a voice, I feel a heavy weight on my shoulders and compelled to tell you about this. It is sad enough that we can’t attract others into our industry fast enough and train them, but the fact that the number of women in cybersecurity is very low, frankly, is unacceptable. We need to have more diversity in the workplace and close the gender gap. We need more women driving businesses and leading teams.” added Sneha.
When asked about how she got involved with Winja, Sneha responded, “While in college, I was introduced to Null – An open security community. I really liked the idea where security experts and enthusiasts would meet on a monthly basis to share knowledge and the technology they had mastered. While attending these sessions it occurred to me that women in information security are rare. Later on, when I started presenting at various international security conferences, it made me realise that this needed to be changed. This is what led me to form a community which serves as an ideal platform to promote information security among women. We provide all possible help and support to the women who need guidance and advice to excel in this field. For this, I was strongly supported and encouraged by my employer Payatu Technologies.”
A helping hand
When asked about how Winja helps in getting women interested in cybersecurity, Sneha replied, “Winja is a complete hands-on event which renders to real-world hacking challenges. This makes the women attendees more confident when it comes to taking down a system and also securing it by learning new techniques and methodologies. Once they are through this simulated hacking environment where they are encouraged to solve difficult challenges, they are able to stand up in the InfoSec field without the fear of being intimidated.”
Why don’t more women study cybersecurity
Lack of courses
For women to be attracted to cybersecurity, it is vital to make it more accessible in schools and showcase it as a profession at an earlier stage. Institutions need to show how it is a future-proof and well-paid career. This is important; for when technology is disrupting many professions by replacing staff, cybersecurity is set to stay.
Not enough information
Cybersecurity covers many areas, including design, GRC, penetration testing, intelligence, incident response, awareness and so on. The way professionals work is changing; they are working longer hours, communicating with more people in different countries, via various modes and more “tools”, and the workplace is rapidly seeping into the house.
This means that there will be more flexibility; which is attractive for both men and women, as, increasingly, people have to work around children or ageing parents.
Long gone are the days when professionals had to report to the office in person. For cybersecurity professionals, many work from home and commute for the odd client or internal meeting. We can also work from global locations that we choose to live in. But the only thing that is holding us back is the stereotype that is set in the minds of people.