Category Archives: IT Workplace

How a nine-year-old’s question sparked a Canadian cybersecurity conference for women

There are many statistics that illustrate the shaky state of careers for women in IT in Canada, especially for those who chose to go into cybersecurity. Quite simply, the profession is overwhelming male.

But arguably the situation can be reduced to a question Mahdi Raza’s nine-year-old daughter asked him last year at a CISO Forum in Niagara Falls when a panel began on women in cybersecurity.

“Why are all the men leaving?” she asked her father, who was a conference organizer.

And that, Raza said, is why his event management and awareness training firm SiberX has organized next month’s Women in Cybersecurity conference in Toronto.

It will be held on March 10th at the Harbour Castle Hilton Hotel. About 100 tickets are still available, although there may be more. Raza said demand has been increasing and the hotel may be able to add more seats.

Early bird registration of $499 is still available.

The agenda includes a session on mentorship and networking as well as panels on 5G, digital identification, and careers in cybersecurity.

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Among the conference sponsors are Microsoft, Amazon AWS, PwC, IBM, the SANS Institute, and Trend Micro.

Speakers include Microsoft CTO Diana Kelley, Adriana Gliga-Belavic, a partner and Canadian payments security practice leader at PwC, Ana Andreasian, former director of technology at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, Olivera Zatezalo, chief security officer at Huawei Canada, and Sherry Rumbolt, senior information security office at National Defence.

But support from such big organizations doesn’t mean the industry has become less sexist, indicated Raza.

“I have called [potential] sponsors and large organizations and said, ‘Hey, we’re putting on a woman in cybersecurity conference,’ and they said ‘I’m a male, you probably want to speak to a female’. I’ve sent emails to [male] heads of large organizations to be sponsors, and they said, ‘You’ve got the wrong gender’. I’ve spoken to others who said, ‘We’ll sponsor your other events, we just don’t see ROI.'”

These answers made him more determined to put on the conference, not merely for education but also to show the IT industry – and employers in general – there’s money in diversifying the workforce.

This is not a women-only event, Raza said.

“Men need to show up.”

Movement starts to have Canada declare Sept. 1 as International Women in Cyber Day

In a bid to recognize the effort women play in strengthening online security in an overwhelmingly male profession, a group of women is making its second attempt to have Ottawa declare Sept. 1 International Women in Cyber Day, and have it recognized globally.

Lisa Kearney, CEO Women CyberSecurity Society

On Monday Lisa Kearney, CEO of the Vancouver-based Women CyberSecurity Society collected the five supporters needed for presenting an online petition for the declaration to her member of Parliament. That’s the initial step in the parliamentary process for public petitions.

With five supporters the e-petition can be sent to House of Commons’ Clerk of Petitions for certification, after which it can be officially put online for mass support. If it collects at least 500 signatures within 60 days, it can be tabled in the House of Commons for a vote.

That may not be a problem. The first version of the e-petition published last year pulled in 147 signatures before the federal election was called, which meant the process had to start all over again.

(Here’s a link to the international petition. The new Canadian petition for Parliament will have similar wording.)

Ultimately, Kearney said in an interview that supporters want the United Nations to recognize Sept. 1 as International Women In Cyber Day around the world. For that at least one country has to approve it.

Kearney and supporters across the country last year did some early groundwork, getting support from city councils in Vancouver, Ottawa and St. John’s, Nfld,

In addition to recognizing the day, the Canadian e-petition asks the federal government to provide grants and funding to help raise awareness and build solutions to remove barriers of entry to women in cybersecurity as well as increase retention.

Related:

How to get more women into cybersecurity

 

Asked why a day or recognition is essential, Kearney said, “women have a lot of barriers and roadblocks within the industry,” noting that in Canada women make up only 10 per cent of the cybersecurity workforce, and11 per cent globally.

Research has shown there is a 50 per cent drop out rate for women in information technology within the first four years, the petition notes. Studies also show women are paid less than men.

“Women need support; there’s a high drop-out rate, and we really want to bring awareness, so we bring solutions that retain women in this industry,” Kearney said.

“Second, we want to celebrate the achievements of women in the industry, and this has been key.

Doing both will help close the skills, and the gender gap experts say is causing a shortage in demand for cybersecurity workers.”

She added, “diversity increases profits for organizations,” noting how diversity is a business incentive as well.

 

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Six essentials to power a modern workplace

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Say hello to Microsoft’s new Chromium-based browser

Microsoft officially launched its new Edge Chromium browser across both Windows and macOS operating systems this week and is available for download now.

One of the biggest issues facing IT professionals is high costs and the complexity in managing enterprise companies that support two or more browsers for maximizing compatibility across legacy and modern websites. Microsoft is hoping to eliminate some of those frustrations by allowing enterprise users to access features like Internet Explorer mode, which lets businesses load legacy IE sites within Edge automatically. 

The new Edge browser also comes with Microsoft’s privacy promise and embraces new features such as tracking prevention in addition to offering three levels of control while employees are browsing. The tracking prevention feature will help businesses know who has access to their data and also give them the control to choose the information they share. Tracking prevention and SmartScreen features of the new Edge browser will also protect businesses from any type of malware, phishing scheme and malicious software. 

A study conducted by Ponemon Institute in 2019 says a data breach costs companies $3.2 million on average.

In addition, new features like Collections will let employees more easily collect and organize web content and research, and export that information into Word or Excel. 

Jimmy Tom, research director at Info-Tech, noted in a recent presentation shared with IT World that the Chromium-based browser opens up new opportunities for Microsoft.

“In effect, Microsoft can now compete in other races that it has never before considered,” he wrote, adding it could provide them with an advantage against AWS as the cloud race between the two tech giants intensifies.

Additional benefits for users giving the new browser a try, he added, include having a much more unified experience for end-users on a platform that IT can control, as well as having the ability to easily port existing Chrome apps into Edge.

The new Collections feature to allow employees more easily collect and organize web content and research.

Microsoft Search in Bing can be easily accessed on mobile phones, thereby enabling knowledge workers to search for corporate information on the go.  

Microsoft Search in Bing can be accessed on mobile phones.

Microsoft Search in Bing also offers new inPrivate mode so that online browsing and searches by employees are not attributed to them.

The new Microsoft Edge browser offers new inPrivate mode.

The new Microsoft Edge browser also comes with a new logo. 

The new Microsoft Edge browser has a new logo

In order to pilot the new Edge browser within the corporate environment, IT administrators will need to download an offline deployment package. The new Edge browser will not automatically deploy for enterprise or commercial customers, Microsoft says. Tools like Configuration Manager tools and Intune deployment, the company adds, can simplify deployment.

The new browser is supported by FastTrack and App Assure. FastTrack will allow businesses with an eligible subscription to Azure, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft 365 to deploy this new browser at no extra charge. Businesses having sites compatible with legacy Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer 8 and above, will also work on the new Microsoft Edge the same way.

The new Microsoft Edge is available in more than 90 languages, ready to be downloaded on all supported versions of Windows and MacOS. It is also available to download on android and iOS.