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WiCyS CIC Kickoff Draws 250+ Women to a New Community for Cyber Critical Infrastructure

The Women in CyberSecurity Critical Infrastructure Community (WiCyS CIC) is thrilled to have hosted their inaugural event last night and have about 100 in attendance and over 250 women connect to the new community.

As Founder and Senior Advisor to the WiCyS CIC as well as President of the WiCyS Mid-Atlantic Affiliate and NSA Commandant of the National Cryptologic School, Diane M. Janosek kicked off the virtual “Cocktails and Conversation” event. Diane commented “Critical infrastructure is one of the fastest growing fields in our country, and cybersecurity underpins every one of the 16 CI sectors. Women make up a key part of this industry but are an underrepresented minority. The CIC is formed to empower women in cyber CI and create a safe community for women to flourish, explore, and learn. Together with our founding partners Capitol Technology University, DreamPort, and CAMI - the Cyber Association of Maryland, Inc., we are already stronger together and united. Potential is unlimited!”

Women joined the event from as far away as Australia and from a wide cross-section of US states (e.g., TX, WA, IL, FL, AL, MO, VA, MN, NJ, OH, PA, DC, MD and more). WiCyS Co-President Veronica Kazaitis said “I’m excited about our mission: empowering a community of women in critical infrastructure cybersecurity careers in academia, government, and industry; and promoting the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in cybersecurity critical infrastructure, so they are positive agents of change. Today’s event is just the beginning of many events to come!

WiCyS Co-President Rosemary Christian noted “Working in cybersecurity has always been a blessing – it’s interesting, challenging, and important to the safety of our world. I'm hopeful that this new community ignites new energy and opportunities for both women working within the CI community AND women seeking to learn more about the CI community.

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As a featured speaker, FBI Special Agent Cerena Coughlin shared the importance of collaborative partnerships in the FBI and InfraGard. She noted, “80% of critical infrastructure is in private hands versus government. … We need expertise and subject-matter-experts to see ever-changing threats and trends.”

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A moderated conversation between Courtney Greeley and Vice Admiral Jan Tighe concisely covered weighty topics with insight and inspiration. For example, gamification is a key tool to improve layer 8 security, i.e., human vulnerability, in our systems. We must increase training and entry-level jobs with solid development plans to close the cyber workforce gap as cyber-attacks continue to increase in scope and frequency. Diversity in cyber strengthens our results. All good ideas are welcome, and all individuals need to be empowered. Humans program algorithms, so we need diversity of thought to root out bias. Transparency, humility, and perseverance are key factors that distinguish in cybersecurity leadership.

Breakout rooms were a hit with the audience. Groups of 10 or less had a chance to network over BYO cocktails and discuss what they needed most from WiCyS. This input is greatly appreciated because it will help shape the future offerings from the organization.

There has been an outpouring of enthusiasm and support for the new community. Rosemary shared, “With the support of our amazing officers, advisors, and liaisons, we are working to create a solid foundation for women to both flourish and grow within the Cybersecurity Critical Infrastructure Community.”

About WiCyS CIC

Diane Janosek
“WiCyS Mid-Atlantic Affiliate and NSA Commandant of the National Cryptologic School, Diane Janosek: “Critical infrastructure is one of the fastest growing fields in our country, and cybersecurity underpins every one of the 16 CI sectors.”

Recognizing the essential nature of cybersecurity in critical infrastructure, Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) launched our first industry community, the WiCyS Critical Infrastructure Community, in spring 2020. The mission is to support the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in cybersecurity critical infrastructure, so they are positive agents of change. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security identifies 16 critical infrastructure sectors. These assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their destruction or impairment would have a severe effect on our nation.

WiCyS CIC is an inclusive, international community of and for women. The community promotes opportunity for women in cyber CI to expand their professional networks, share their knowledge and engage in progressive experiences. The WiCyS CIC is for women at all stages of their career and is dedicated to empowering a community of women in cyber CI careers in academia, government, and industry.

Join the WiCyS CIC for access to community resources, networking, mentoring, training, scholarships, speaking opportunities, and more.