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How did I get into Cyber Security and what is Penetration Testing?

I thought I’d write a small piece about cyber security and how I got into it because I often get asked what do I actually do, what is cyber security, what is penetration testing and how easy is it for women to work in the industry?

I studied Criminology at Kingston University and in my final year was offered to study a special module known as Cyber Crime. It was in this module that I took an interest in the area of Hacking which later turned into a more in-depth study of the Cyber Security industry.

When graduating from university I joined every other student wondering how to find the best career to suit them with many different avenues to follow trying to balance the need to find a job with the desire to find a job that you actually want to do. Like many others, I applied for jobs in different industries, yet I always had a desire to work in Cyber security inspired by my degree. Because the openings in Cyber Security seemed limited to technical positions I decided to speculatively apply for roles and hope that my enthusiasm would open doors. I applied to JUMPSEC who had advertised for the role of Cyber Security Consultant, knowing that the chances of my success were limited by my lack of technical qualifications.

To my surprise, Matt Norris, Operations Director at JUMPSEC phoned me and asked me “Why do you want to work in Cyber Security”. I explained my enthusiasm and knowledge of the industry from my degree and he gave me the opportunity for an interview. It’s been three years since that call and I’ve been with JUMPSEC since then. I joined JUMPSEC as an Operations Coordinator, focusing mainly on admin and operational duties, since then I have expanded to sales and marketing and am now a part of Sales Operations.  I am very lucky to have been given my ‘career’ as my first job after university and JUMPSEC have given me so many opportunities that have allowed me to grow and excel to my best potential.

I am extremely proud to be a woman working in cyber security, considering that historically there has been a gender gap in this industry. Over the three short years that I have been with JUMPSEC, they have given me the chance to learn, grow and contribute to the company’s overall success. I love working at JUMPSEC, I am happy to come to work, the company is diverse, relaxed yet highly professional, fun yet serious about the nature of the business we do.

Penetration testing is a way for companies to learn at a point in time how secure they are, and what they need to do to fix any vulnerabilities. Penetration testing can be performed form an external point of view meaning an attack over the internet or an internal point of view meaning from someone who gains access to your internal network (for example a disgruntled employee).  You can also check out this video below where Isabelle Bearn talks about the benefits of penetration testing.