Updated: Jul 5
Our new venture, Inspiring Journeys in Cybersecurity, is an attempt to showcase our member's journeys in the domain. We will continue to bring more inspiring journeys in the future.
Krity Kharbanda is an Information Science Graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. She is zealous to explore different dimensions of cyber security. She takes this field holistically rather than taking it as just a technology to evade the breaches. She comes from a modest family background in India and enjoys food and travel.
Tell us about your journey in Cybersecurity, your ups and downs, and your accomplishments.
I started with researching multiple things, networks, deep learning, and reading a plethora of blogs on security. While doing this, I presented a paper on Lightweight Cryptography for IoT Networks. Another paper of mine was published on Deep learning architecture based on segmented fundus image features for classification of diabetic retinopathy.
Both the papers were on totally different tangents and are the topics of interest. I have a background in Biology from school. So when I had the opportunity of working on diabetic retinopathy, I immediately grabbed it. The best part was I could use my technical skills to bring a change in research in Biology. Apart from this, I kept on working on my budding interest. That’s how both the papers came out in the near time.
After my bachelors, I wished to pursue masters promptly but couldn't do so due to the pandemic. Feeling disheartened, I put my studies aside for sometime. That is when I started working with SecLogic. I progressed at a much higher rate than expected. I even joined InfosecGirls, then BBWIC and WiCyS. I am so glad life took that turn for me.
Even though times have been tough, I like to talk about my highs and lows and the lessons learnt.
What drove you to Cybersecurity?
I am the one who enjoys problem-solving and being present in areas requiring analytical approach. Cybersecurity is one domain that is constantly evolving based on the requirements, possibilities, and new attacks happening regularly. The ever changing field of cybersecurity and the continuous scope to explore more is what drove me to the field.
One thing you wish to change about the Cybersecurity domain?
Organizations should adopt cybersecurity as a culture. The CISO should not be the one responsible for handling it all alone. There needs to be a mindset that goes beyond defending and inspecting the attacks and breaches. To build that frame of mind, organizations should be more open to hiring from novice to experienced. The percentage of the cyber workforce needs to grow with diversity included.
Do you think communities play a role in uplifting someone in this domain or does one need to play solo?
Communities play a huge role in uplifting, encouraging, and giving that nudge you need at times to keep going. Moreover, it connects you with like-minded people who act as a support system, who are always there to stand by you, guide you, and thrive with you.
BBWIC is one such community, which is doing this incredible work of bringing the people together, providing resources, and helping many shape their professional journey in a vibrant way.
Have you done anything in the Cybersecurity domain that has enriched the diversity and inclusion scenario? If yes, mention it briefly.
Last year, I volunteered with my school Community Engagement. I was there helping to refine the course that the school was offering to teach a small group of community students. The motive behind the initiative was to light up the path students can take to start their careers in cybersecurity. Also, a couple of months back, I gave a talk on Cloud Security to the students studying a course of management at IAE Gustave. Those students who were looking to opt for an orientation program in cybersecurity. I choose the topic of cloud security to address those students to open a new direction for them.
Moreover, I try to help anyone who needs assistance and encouragement, especially women to join the field. I am the one who is always talking about the cruciality of security and the across-the-board nature of the domain.
One challenge, according to you, that women face in the cybersecurity domain. How did you overcome it?
The gender bias and the accepting nature for entry-level positions are some key problems. Today we are encouraging women to acquire cybersecurity skills. But finding roles with no prior experience is difficult. This hinders the growth of the percentage of women in the cyber workspace.
When I started my first job search, I was ready to wait but not to shift my focus. I did not want to start with something else and then after a few years move to cybersecurity. SecLogic Inc. took a chance on me. I came out to be a different person with lots of learning and a year of experience which felt like years of experience.
How has your experience been with the Breaking Barriers Women In Cybersecurity Foundation?
I have got immense support and love from the people at the BBWIC Foundation. They have taught me to stand by someone in the manner of the natural course of conduct. That feels like in the flow and not as an obligation/favor to anything/anyone.
I am grateful to have joined the community which encourages me to do things out of my potential thinking. It gives me the confidence and happiness to see that I can grow in the directions I never thought I could. I have started to dream bigger. Because I know even if I fall, I have an army of wonderful women who will hold me and help me get back to my feet again!
Interviewed and edited by Dr. Sana Fatima
(Sana is an advisory board member of the BBWIC Foundation. A dental surgeon, a writer, and a full-time editor in a publishing house, Sana is a cybersecurity enthusiast herself.)