Students Maximize Opportunities With Women in Cybersecurity (WiCys)

Women in Cybersecurity (WiCys) was founded to bring together women from academia, research, and industry to share knowledge, experience, networking, and mentoring in cybersecurity, and students from the Security and Privacy in Informatics, Computing, and Engineering Center at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering have reaped the benefits.

Hilda Hadan and Laura Calloway, both Ph.D. candidates in security informatics, and Jenni Muñoz, a recent graduate in computer science at Luddy, attended the 2019 WiCyS Conference in Pittsburgh, providing them an excellent opportunity to connect with companies looking for candidates for cybersecurity jobs.

“Attending the conference was very inspiring for me,” Muñoz said. “It allowed me to learn about the experiences of top leaders in cybersecurity and gain words of wisdom to help me in my own journey. I am never going to be alone in this field, and we are contributing to a necessary and powerful shift in the demographics of cybersecurity. It was so uplifting to be surrounded by hardworking and supportive women.”

Muñoz created a WiCyS student chapter at IU, and it has hosted virtual meetings, including a recent discussion about the impact of COVID-19 on cybersecurity. The group is planning a Capture the Flag event with HackerOne Sept. 25 and plans to partner with companies such as EY and Abbvie for resume reviews, lunch and learns, tours, and other activities, including guest speakers.

Calloway enjoyed the computer science and cybersecurity community at WiCyS.

“It was great talking to other students about their research,” Calloway said. “I learned a lot.”

SPICE is one of the sponsors of the annual conference, which shifted to the virtual realm for 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus situation showcased the organization’s ability adapt to rapidly evolving circumstances, which is often at the heart of cybersecurity research.

“WiCys is very responsive to the needs of its community which meant shifting from a physical meeting to a virtual one this year,” SPICE Project Manager Joshua Streiff said. “As a result, they rapidly deployed an online event in which core presentations were made and an interactive center in which companies and schools were able to chat with prospective students and research collaborators.”

WiCyS has also created opportunities for collaboration, including a SPICE partnership with the U.S. Naval Academy for a year-long remote capstone project.

“We strongly support diversity in our research and research teams,” Streiff said. “WiCys makes that possible.”

Established in 2012 through a National Science Foundation grant, WiCyS is a non-profit organization offering many membership, sponsorship and collaboration benefits. More than half of the attendees at the conference are accepted through the WiCyS scholarship program.

The 2021 WiCyS Leadership Summit is planned for March.