The Women Running the Cybersecurity Industry

women in cybersecurity five colorful

In 2013, Frost & Sullivan published a report that stated that 11% of the global cybersecurity workforce was made up of women. This report helped to continue the conversation about why there are so few women in tech, and what we can do to ensure that more women and young girls feel confident and assured about their ability to rise within these fields. Flash forward to 2018: Cybersecurity Ventures recently announced the upcoming release of their 2018 report that states that women will likely represent more than 20% of the global cybersecurity workforce in 2018.

While 20% is still a relatively low proportion compared to the number of men as well as the growing needs of cybersecurity, in honor of International Women’s Day, here are ten of our favorite cybersecurity boss women who are making headway in the industry, promoting security and showing that though women may be underrepresented now, they are present in the highest ranks and are not to be messed with! (Listed in alphabetical order by last name)

1. Marene Allison

Worldwide VP of Information Security of Johnson & Johnson

Marene Allison is the Worldwide Vice President of Information Security for Johnson & Johnson. Before Johnson & Johnson, she held executive roles at MedCo and Avaya. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academic, she also served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer. Adding on even more to her cool factor, she was previously a special agent in the FBI. Allison has spent a lot of time looking at the relationship between both physical security as well as information security, emphasizing the need for an overlap.

2. Alissa Johnson

CISO of Xerox

Dr. Alissa Johnson is the Chief Information Security Officer of Xerox, and she formerly served as Deputy Chief Information Officer for the White House under President Obama’s administration. She has a doctorate in IT management and a Masters of Science in telecommunications and computer networks. She’s also known as “Dr. Jay” and joined Xerox in 2016, immediately following her time at the White House. Since moving into the private sector, she works both on protecting Xerox as a whole, and protecting clients.

3. Jill Knesek

VP Information Security and CISO of Mattel, Inc.

Jill Knesek is the head of information security at Mattel. Though many people know of Mattel as the company behind Barbie, it’s also a company that promotes child development, play, and global learning. She was also the CSO of BT Global Services and BT Americas.

4. Jenna McAuley

VP, Information Security and Information Technology Oversight and CISO for US Banks of American Express

Jenna McAuley became CISO for US Banks at American Express in 2017, one of the world’s most popular credit card issuers. Not new to the security game, McAuley has 20+ years of experience under her belt. She was previously CISO for Mercer, a global consulting firm. Before that she managed security for EY and Accenture.

5. Chandra McMahon

SVP and CISO of Verizon

Chandra McMahon is the head of information security for Verizon, a company with more than $120 billion in revenue and over 150,000 employees. She has spent over 20 years in cybersecurity and has served as CISO at Lockheed Martin. She frequently briefed the White House and Congressional staff on matters related to security and it’s a no brainer that her experience has given her a sharp eye for noticing avenues for technological advances and evolution. She’s also a proponent for raising up more women to enter and thrive in the infosecurity industry, pushing to expand mentoring and networking opportunities.

6. Katie Moussouris

CEO and Founder of Luta Security

Katie Moussouris is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Luta Security, a consultancy that helps organizations work with hackers through bug bounty programs. She created the bug bounty program at Microsoft, as well as in the U.S. Department of Defense. Because of these great achievements, she’s no stranger to the lists of “Top Women in IT,” even being named by SC Magazine on its prestigious Women in IT Security list.  

7. Helen Patton

CISO of Ohio State University

Helen Patton is CISO of Ohio State University. She has had more than 20 years of experience in the industry, previously having been the Executive Director of IT Risk at JP Morgan Chase. She transitioned to her position at OSU in 2013, and believes in the importance of mobile management in order to secure systems with the increasing amount of mobile devices on campuses. She holds a Master’s in Public Policy and is a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and also holds a certification for Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC).

8. Masha Sedova

Co-Founder of Elevate Security

Masha Sedova is the founder of Elevate Security, a company that provides interactive security training based on behavioral studies. She previously worked at Salesforce where she headed a team that promoted secure mindsets for employees using gamification and positive technology. Her team helped to move security higher up the agenda within Salesforce and changed how they approached security.

9. Myrna Soto

SVP Global CISO of Comcast

Myrna Soto is the SVP Global CISO of Comcast Corporation, the overarching conglomerate which makes up other companies and subsidiaries like Xfinity, NBCUniversal, and Comcast Spectacor. It’s an intense network of companies, and Soto has to work with all the technology and security teams across the organization to ensure that both the company and those using its services are safe. She has had more than 20 years of IT and security experience, and was previously CISO of MGM Resorts International.

10. Chenxi Wang

Founder of The Jane Bond Project

Chenxi Wang is the Founder of the Jane Bond Project. The Jane Bond Project is an independent security research and advisory firm. She spent years in major positions, such as CSO of Twistlock, and was an esteemed professor at Carnegie Mellon University. She advises several startup companies and major enterprises on cybersecurity and product management, and serves as part of the Board of Directors for OWASP. She’s a major proponent of application security and aims to invest more into training and outreach to cultivate diversity in this field.

Although we’ve only listed ten women here, there are scores of other boss women who rule this field. If you desire to become more invested in the female IT community, check out some of these links below — and Happy International Women’s Day!