"More women can help the InfoSec industry evolve" says Shruthi Kamath- Interview with an Alumnus of Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru

Amrita Alumnus (BTech, Bengaluru) Shruthi Kamath is a certified Ethical Hacker from the EC council and is a Security Analyst with Infosys for the last two and a half years.  Computer security, broadly encompassing internet and mobile, is a field that is predominantly male dominated.  Shruthi and a few other likeminded women are pushing the boundaries and trying to pave the way for more women who can hop on to this platform and narrow the gender divide. She recently shared her experience and achievements in the field, as well as thoughts on how involvement by women can help the Information Security (InfoSec) industry evolve. 

Shruthi was fascinated by “ethical hacking” but never knew how to get started in this domain. At Infosys, security was part of her training and she had a chance to learn about InfoSec. Her mentor then introduced her to Null, the Open Security Community, where she began attending hands-on sessions and monthly meets.  “Info-sec is very exciting as there are new discoveries every other day so the learning never ends,” she says. 

According to Shruthi, there are a large number of women in India working as security analysts, but the InfoSec industry still lacks their active participation in events like meet-ups and conferences held across India.  Shruthi and another fellow ethical hacker Apoorva, have joined hands and conducted workshops exclusively for women on InfoSec.  Shruthi explained, “It is a first of its kind. We noticed that not many women actively attended the community meets. We wanted to increase the participation of women at events like these and we realized that one way to do it was to spread awareness among women who were interested in joining this field…Currently, a balanced perspective in information security is missing. We feel that such events will help bring about gender equality in the field of cyber security and we want to do our bit in spreading awareness.”

Their first event was at c0c0n 2014 at Kochi, Kerala. More than 120 women attended the workshop, which included students, teachers and working professionals. “The response we received was very positive. Many participants asked us how they could have a career in this field. They also wanted us to conduct similar events in the future and spread the word,” shares Shruthi.

The women have also started a website named infosecgirls, a platform for women who are passionate about InfoSec. Through this platform, they aim to reach out to women and evoke their curiosity. Those who want to help the initiative can spread the word on social media channels, partner to conduct events related to InfoSec for women in technology and show willingness to share their expertise.

Shruthi also made a presentation on Secure SDLC at c0c0n conference 2013, participated in Jailbreak NULLCON 2014 and is an active member of Null/OWASP Bangalore chapter.  Additionally, Shruthi has to her credit a talk on cybercrime in India and its mitigation that she gave at the National Conference for Women Police Officers organized by Kerala Police at Trivandrum.  “It was an honour for me to address 200 women police officers of different ranks from all over the country. I enjoyed interacting with them and it was inspirational,” says Shruthi.

In comparison to the US and the Western countries the number of female ethical hackers is quite low, but according to Shruthi, there has been a wave of change lately and she is hopeful that there will be many more women in the days to come.  The challenge, according to Shruthi, is the lack of awareness and participation. “I think hesitation to participate in events where there are few women attendees and also hesitation to ask for help as they feel they may be mocked, keeps women away from the InfoSec domain and events related to it.”  She adds, "I think spreading of awareness has already started in the form of various initiatives. I feel that women will be inspired and encouraged to join the InfoSec community."

Passion and dedication towards achieving her goals in life keeps Shruthi motivated.  A native of Udupi, she says her family, friends and mentors have been her greatest source of strength.  Drawing from Diane Mariechild’s words, “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform,” Shruthi believes that women truly have the power to nurture and transform things.  Her advice to aspiring young women in college interested in the InfoSec domain is, “If this is your area of interest then it’s the right time to get started. The InfoSec industry needs to diversify and evolve faster and women joining InfoSec will make that possible.” 

Derived from her.yourstory.com

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