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Careers & People

3/30/2018
01:20 PM
Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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10 Women in Security You May Not Know But Should

The first in a series of articles shining a spotlight on women who are quietly changing the game in cybersecurity.
2 of 11

Kate Highnam
Machine Learning Engineer, Capital One

Kate Highnam was recommended for this list based on her presentation on 'Deep Learning for Realtime Malware Detection' at SchmooCon 2018, where she focused on command-and-control activity from domain generation algorithms (DGAs). She and her colleague, Domenic Puzio, used deep learning to understand patterns of domains that malware will likely use for command and control, allowing them to detect malicious websites and machines. The presentation was 'at the Ph.D level,' according to one attendee.
At Capital One, Highnam uses machine learning for advanced malware detection. 'Part of what makes Kate unique is that she has both cybersecurity knowledge and machine learning expertise, so she is able to use these advanced learning algorithms to solve really complex security challenges,' says Puzio. 
She also has an engineering background to take a machine learning model and productionize it at scale. As a University of Virginia student, Highnam's thesis was a published industrial research paper which included an attack scenario and repair algorithm for drones on missions with limited contact from ground control.
Her current research project investigates beaconing patterns in large-scale network traffic. She and Puzio have a publication under review for their DGA research and will present a keynote at this year's Deep Learning World called Realtime Malware Detection with CNNs and LSTMs. 

Image Source: Kate Highnam

Kate Highnam
Machine Learning Engineer, Capital One

Kate Highnam was recommended for this list based on her presentation on "Deep Learning for Realtime Malware Detection" at SchmooCon 2018, where she focused on command-and-control activity from domain generation algorithms (DGAs). She and her colleague, Domenic Puzio, used deep learning to understand patterns of domains that malware will likely use for command and control, allowing them to detect malicious websites and machines. The presentation was "at the Ph.D level," according to one attendee.

At Capital One, Highnam uses machine learning for advanced malware detection. "Part of what makes Kate unique is that she has both cybersecurity knowledge and machine learning expertise, so she is able to use these advanced learning algorithms to solve really complex security challenges," says Puzio.

She also has an engineering background to take a machine learning model and productionize it at scale. As a University of Virginia student, Highnam's thesis was a published industrial research paper which included an attack scenario and repair algorithm for drones on missions with limited contact from ground control.

Her current research project investigates beaconing patterns in large-scale network traffic. She and Puzio have a publication under review for their DGA research and will present a keynote at this year's Deep Learning World called Realtime Malware Detection with CNNs and LSTMs.

Image Source: Kate Highnam

2 of 11
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holochain-wins
50%
50%
holochain-wins,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/24/2018 | 9:55:15 PM
I know of many women in sec
I know of many in security field that are amazing and beautiful, they do not come out since doing so can get you targeted online, just like in real life. So the numbers of women in the industry are deflated.
BrianN060
100%
0%
BrianN060,
User Rank: Ninja
4/9/2018 | 7:00:47 PM
Instances over types for social issues, too
Kelly, I think the article got off on the wrong foot.  The stated goal of the article was to highlight the achievements and contributions of 10 individuals; however, as framed, we can't see the trees for the forest.  Had you left out the tripwire iconography and phrases, you'd have provided 10 exemplary role models to encourage other individuals (including those that happen to be female), by showing what can be achieved by excellence. 

As it is, the introduction suggested this would be yet another ad hominem (literally), diatribe - making it hard to get past that, to objectively consider the 10 profiles. 

Objectivity, curtesy, respect for varied perspectives and technical competency of the participants are attributes which drew me to Dark Reading.  Politics, posturing and zero-sum agendas already dominate too many forums. 

I think the nature of the survey quoted provides an example of how easily we might drift (or be nudged), from substance to perception.  Whenever statistical distributions for responses to questions about how someone feels are quoted, it's invariably a matter of the subjective dressed in objective clothing.  Such data can be useful in targeting "average consumer" preference.  As a guide to evaluating and improving policies which will impact individuals - they are as likely to mislead as inform. 
Gorilla Hunter
50%
50%
Gorilla Hunter,
User Rank: Strategist
4/9/2018 | 9:08:23 AM
Re: I reject this populist ideology
100% agree. Now if a woman doesn't get a promotion, it isn't because the other person put in more hours, did more work, or was more qualified, it gets spun into "sexism". Now all the focuse is on the genitals, not the work.
Kelly22
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100%
Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
4/9/2018 | 8:08:12 AM
Re: I reject this populist ideology
Thank you for sharing your insight. The idea behind this piece was to highlight women in security who are doing cool projects and exploring new research, but are still relatively unknown. Our goal was to acknowledge these women for their work and share it with a larger community. 
logisist
100%
0%
logisist,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2018 | 5:19:43 PM
I reject this populist ideology
For almost a decade I have enjoyed working as a cybersecurity consultant for many large, some of the largest, US/global enterprises. Often I spend weeks, sometimes even months, on-site with customers working with their information security and other IT personnel to accomplish a common goal. I'm often given a badge, laptop, and even parking permits. I attend all the major conferences like DEFCON, BSides, and others that would reveal too much about my geographic location to enumerate.

Not once have I witnessed gender based bias. I have, on the other hand, heard women claim sexism after having been treated poorly by people who also treat men poorly. On occasion I have been a witness to said sexism, but did not read it that way at all. This has steadily become more prevalent over the last 10 years as the divisions within the country have grown wider. I, like you, am anecdotal- you can write me off because I'm just 1 person on the Internet. But all I want is to put one idea in your mind:

Reading an article insinuating that women are suppressed or somehow maligned in cybersecurity does nothing to help encourage them to become involved. Opinionated hit pieces playing into the popular myth that women are somehow under the thumb of men is not only false, it's insulting, patronizing, and dare I say, sexist toward women.
Gorilla Hunter
100%
0%
Gorilla Hunter,
User Rank: Strategist
4/6/2018 | 3:44:53 PM
Who cares
Why do people care if the person coming out with info has a penis or vagina? All this does is make things more decisive. It's almost as if the information doesn't matter, but stupid gender politics.  
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/4/2018 | 6:28:57 PM
Re: Top 5 Leading Woman in Cyber Security - Michele Fincher
@Aka Elvis:

Excellent example. Michele Fincher is certainly a known quantity with a great rep (along with Hadnagy).

I too thought of very prominent InfoSec women that weren't listed here, but I think that's the point of the slideshow -- as the headline reads, "women in security you may not know but should".

In other words, I took this as a spotlight piece on InfoSec women with a lower profile than, say, a Michele Fincher, or a Katie Moussouris.
Aka Elvis
0%
100%
Aka Elvis,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2018 | 10:47:20 AM
Top 5 Leading Woman in Cyber Security - Michele Fincher
DR Team,

Excellent article on women in cyber security.  But for some reason you missed one of our epic women in Cyber Security, Michele Fincher.  She has been a legend in our field for several years as a trainer, speaker, and panelist for cyber security.  She has written the book on Phishing and SpearPhishing, Phishing Dark Waters, along with her team mate Chris Hadnagy.  She speaks regularly at mulitple cyber security conferences, and helps lead the Social Engineering Village at DEFCON every year. She is one of the top 5 women leaders in Cyber Security.  thx/elvis
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