On March 17-19, three students from theSchool of Computing and Information's Department of Informatics and Networked Systems attended the annual Women in Cybersecurity, or WiCyS, conference in Cleveland, OH. Maryam Aldairi, Krity Kharbanda, and Aren Alyahya all received scholarships to attend the conference.
This yearly conference aims to connect students interested in the field of cybersecurity with professionals established in the industry and promote the advancement of women in cybersecurity. The three day event featured 23 workshops, 16 technical presentations, eight information sessions, six leadership events, and five keynote presentations including one from Head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Jen Easterly on “Empowering the Next Generation of Women Cybersecurity and Tech Pioneers.”
PhD student Maryam Aldairi attended the conference’s poster session, which allows students to submit an abstract of their proposal for review before presenting it. This year, 29 student research posters were presented. Aldairi’s poster highlighted her research into investigating the end-users privacy for applications installed on iOS devices, specifically looking into data sharing between different applications developed by the same company. “One thing that was fascinating as a student was when you get to attend workshops presented by people working in the field and companies working on cybersecurity tools,” Aldairi said of the several workshops and lectures she attended. “From a student perspective, you get to see simulations in classes a lot, but seeing it in the real world, like how teams come up with a plan, find incidents, and contain them is very exciting.” Aldairi also remarked on the significance of being able to discuss these topics in person.
Krity Kharbana, a master’s student, spoke on the benefits of the conference. "WiCyS is a conference that brings together the positive energy and the aura of the whole community who is there to guide, mentor, and push you forward. Also, it brings a lot of opportunities to learn and find new paths," said Kharbana.
“Through ongoing opportunities like the mentor/mentee program, the WiCyS conference continues to provide support to students in the field throughout the year.”About her motivation to attend, Kharbana said, "The conference is an open platform where you get to meet so many ladies supporting each other and inspiring others to keep going and growing. I did not want to miss an opportunity to meet and network with all the strong and wonderful women in the domain of cybersecurity."
In addition to workshops and keynote speaker lectures, the conference also featured sessions from a variety of professional companies, providing students with networking opportunities to connect with people established in the industry. “Each company is responsible for a room, and you could hang out and talk to people,” said Aren Alyahya, a master’s student.
In a field where the number of men employed vastly outnumber women, the WiCyS conference provides opportunities, support, and resources for women to pursue and grow their careers. “The conference is interested in empowering women to stand up for themselves in the work environment and to have confidence about what they say,” said Alyahya.
WiCyS will return in 2023 from March 16-18 in Denver, Colorado. To find out more about WiCyS 2023, visit the Conference Page.