Name: Gabe Marzano
Company: Palo Alto Networks
Title: Cyber Security Evangelist
Why do you enjoy working in the cyber security field?
I love working in cyber security because it’s ever-evolving and requires global thinking. The impact of technology on humanity fascinates me, and I believe cyber security is key to thriving in the digital world – particularly as technology continues to accelerate and shape everyday life. I also really enjoy studying the psychological and human-centric nature of how we interact with technology and conversely, how technology is evolving our thoughts, behaviours, and relationships.
The adversarial nature of ‘attacker vs defender’ is also very interesting to me, having served in the military and understanding the national security and geopolitical implications of cyber. I find information warfare, psychological operations, and the international nature of operating within the ‘grey zone’ an important consideration for the future.
I get a sense of achievement every day by working within cyber security, because it is truly meaningful work. Securing our digital way of life would be the most pressing issue of our modern life given the rise of cybercrime, advanced technologies, and the opportunity to transform people’s lives with cyber capabilities.
What are your words of advice to encourage other women to work in the space?
For women wanting to transition into the industry, cyber security is probably one of the only careers where you can apply a broad range of diverse and sometimes seemingly unrelated skills. For example, cyber security requires partnering with law professionals to tackle the future of privacy laws and data governance, and I’ve heard of cyber security consultancy firms hiring former actors as part of their social engineering teams for physical pen-testing exercises.
Additionally, cyber security is more about a particular way of thinking and being able to learn and apply knowledge across an incredibly broad and deep domain. We need more women in the industry to apply their unique skill sets, attributes and strengths to help protect people and organisations from the proliferation of cyber threats and compromises occurring far too often.
I recommend considering what cyber security means to you because it’s a new, emerging and exciting field. Connect with people in the industry through LinkedIn and various community events, and understand what areas of cyber security interest you the most to start actively applying for roles of interest. There are also great cyber security fundamentals courses through providers such as the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN).
Lastly, sometimes women can be quite risk-averse or feel like the industry is too male-dominated, but I’d say the cybersecurity industry celebrates diversity and uniqueness due to the nature of the work we do to defend against and solve a rising global problem.
In terms of succeeding, it’s important to build ‘relationship equity’ and look for value-creation opportunities within the cyber security ecosystem. That could mean networking and asking about other people’s perspectives on cyber security, applying your own unique lens on cyber threats, and understanding the national and international context of cyber (for example, following Australia’s involvement in the International Countering Ransomware Initiative, and understanding the new Critical Infrastructure reforms).
There are also great frameworks and resources to better understand cyber security. These include the Australian Cyber Security Centres Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents, the NIST Cyber Security Framework and the MITRE ATT&CK and D3FEND Matrices, among others. These resources, along with various Threat Intelligence sources, are a great way to study the domain and embark on a lifelong learning journey to having a successful cybersecurity career.