How women are helping to fight cybercrime

Today is International Women’s Day. And, in celebration of just some of the women working to fight cybercrime, we asked a number of professionals at Sophos about their roles in cybersecurity and what this day means to them.

1. A new problem to solve

Software Engineer, Daphne Allamenou

I work on the Virtualisation team which is responsible for the development and testing of our Sophos for Virtual Environments product. While that may sound like a repetitive cycle, each piece of work is a new problem to solve which challenges me in different ways. The love for my job comes from the satisfaction I get when I overcome these tasks, particularly the more difficult ones.

International Women’s Day for me is about recognising the merits of women, past and present, and emphasising them as role models for younger and future generations. With this exposure, young girls may be inspired enough to venture down paths they would perhaps not have considered.

This day may not be enough to solve the gender balance problem we are facing in the tech sector but I think celebrating and highlighting the strength and ability of women in all areas is a step in the right direction for forging a better world where gender does not define your place or treatment in the world.

2. Technical decisions and strategies

Senior Development Manager, Chloe Acebes

I run a team of 13 software developers and quality assurance engineers to deliver security software for Windows Servers. There are three main aspects to my job: making technical decisions and strategising about the products that the team owns, developing the people in the team, and managing the team projects. Each one of these is challenging and rewarding in its own way, and finding a balance between the three can be particularly difficult – there is no point ensuring we deliver a new project on time if the new feature doesn’t work as expected and the team are unhappy!

I joined Sophos directly from university and decided that a career in cybersecurity was for me when I interviewed for a graduate engineer role. The overriding message I took from that day was how working in cybersecurity allows you to help people. That feeling hasn’t changed in the 16 years I’ve been working at Sophos. I still get a great sense of satisfaction from doing a job that gives me interesting technical challenges whilst delivering software that genuinely benefits people.

For me, International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to try to encourage more females into STEM career paths. I am definitely in the minority in terms of male/female balance in the Engineering team, and in cybersecurity, or even software development, in general. However, this is a great industry to get into – there are loads of opportunities for anyone who likes solving problems. Gone are the days of coders sitting in a corner bashing away at their keyboards and speaking to no one. Being a software engineer nowadays requires a good analytical mind, plenty of collaboration and a thirst to continually learn new things.

3. Ensuring quality

Senior QA Engineer, Manimala Rajeti

I am a senior quality assurance engineer in SophosLabs. This means I have to make sure the quality of VirusData (IDE’s) does not break any product’s scan functionality. I am also a technical lead in the QA team, so I’m there to support my team when they need any technical help.

Working in Labs is very challenging but it gives me lot of opportunities to work on various things, which I love. And, being in this environment allows me to constantly learn and develop my skills and interests.

It’s funny, I never made the decision that I wanted a career in cybersecurity but somewhere along the line I realised how much I enjoy it, because my contribution to the work helps people stay protected against cybercrimes. It gives me lot of satisfaction when I see that a piece of malware has been identified by the data we provide through Sophos products.

I actually don’t believe that the software industry is male dominated, there are plenty of women contributing to the work. For me, International Women’s Day means that everybody should celebrate and recognize women for their contribution everywhere – at work, in the family and in society. Women are not weak, either physically or mentally, but we are often treated as if we were. It would be great to live in a world where women are seen and treated as equal in every sector.

4. Bringing a system to life

Senior Software Engineer, Lily Conlan

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight that women are more than just homemakers and the producers of the next generations – we can choose to have a career as well. It’s also a chance to highlight that the tech industry isn’t just “boys with toys” and that women can play a big part too.

At Sophos I am a Systems Engineer which means that my job is to architect and implement tools, processes and systems. On a day to day basis that translates into getting requirements, designing a system or tool that will do those things and then implementing it. My favourite part is bringing a system to life and seeing it deliver what’s expected. I get excited about seeing code I’ve written doing the job it’s supposed to do.

But how did I get here? My interest in computers started from the age of 5, so when I got the opportunity in university to take the computing stream during my degree I jumped at the chance. This led me to get the job doing what I do now.

I have to admit that cybersecurity wasn’t something that I was aware of until I joined Sophos, but having worked in SophosLabs for some of my time here, I understand the importance of it and the relevance it has in today’s world. It’s an exciting time to work in this industry and to be part of the “good guys” trying to combat cybercrime.