October 22, 2018
I used my maternity leave to launch my career in cyber resilience. Here’s how:
By: Stephanie Jensen

I was a mom in her 20s, on maternity leave and with two young children. My husband was away with the navy back then. Since I’d always have spare time in the evenings when the kids went to bed, I decided I wanted to do something. I wanted to explore career options.

So I hopped online and began researching software development.

Five years later, I’m a senior security analyst in Accenture.

How I did it:

I wanted a hobby that I could do with the resources I had available and something that I had to use my brain for. I began researching online and completed an online course in software development.

After that, I completed a course in computer networking, and that’s when I found my passion. Learning about how networking components could be manipulated in certain ways to create unintended reactions - through pursuing this curiosity I became absolutely obsessed with learning about this. By asking “what if” questions, I started to understand how attackers could exploit systems. Eventually I took a Bachelor of Information Technology Network Security to gain a deeper understanding of computer networking.

As the partner of someone in national defence, I took an interest in security. I took every security course I could find and attended security events, becoming active within the community.

My career in cyber resilience

I soon found my passion in cyber resilience. My current security role lets me conduct a vast range of security activities, including incident response, vulnerability management, risk assessments, threat intelligence and threat hunting.

Indeed, there is always something new to do every day in an ever-changing environment and threat landscape. Also, there’s still much to be done in the security industry across Australia. There remains a lack of security maturity here where organisations do not fully understand the looming threats globally and the best ways they can be detected and mitigated.

We need to combine strategic, operational and tactical threat intelligence with advance adversary simulations and proper threat hunting and we can place ourselves in a much better position to decrease Australia’s cyber attack surface.

My future in cyber security

My dream job would be a role that includes security research. My primary passion is offensive security, and I love discovering ways to exploit systems and developing creative ways an attacker may compromise or interact with a system. I would love to lead advance adversary simulations, crafting simulated attacks that will encompass social engineering and physical security. I would also love to research into advanced persistent threats, in-house vulnerability and exploitation research and development.

Clearly, cyber threats are not going away, and we need as many diverse skills and backgrounds as possible. All it takes is a little curiosity. For anyone interested in pursuing a career in this area, whether you’re on maternity leave or in another career, there’s so much opportunity. People can get involved in the “hackers helping hackers” charity – an organisation who sends the disadvantaged to security conferences around Australia.

Accenture Security team

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