Security Staff Acquisition & Development, Training, Cyber veterans

Equinix’s Nandita Bery: Brainstorming a credentials program for cyber ambassadors

Nandita Bery may be head of security awareness and development at Equinix, but that doesn’t mean security awareness is a one-person job at the global digital infrastructure giant.

Bery has built a small but potent army of reinforcements from Equinix’s 13,000-plus-member workforce, converting various employees into security champions — aka cyber ambassadors — who can help spread and scale her key messages.

And soon enough, many of the same principles Bery has applied toward her ambassadorship initiative could become standardized and popularized in the form of a new credentials program currently under development. Indeed, with Bery as the lead, the SANS Institute recently created an advisory board of experts to brainstorm the development of an official “Cyber Ambassador Program and Credential" that individuals could earn as a bullet point on their résumé.

“We wanted to provide professional development opportunities for people to be recognized; hence, our collaboration with SANS… to consider creating an industry-standard credential for cyber ambassadors, similar to the SANS Security Awareness Professional credential,” said Bery. “The ambassador credential advisory board is comprised of volunteers who are awareness professionals at global companies. We are currently mapping out the training and skills that will support the ambassador credential... I believe this will help many companies scale and mature their security awareness programs, while providing security-related professional development for non-security employees.”

Bery’s cyber champion program at Equinix has a three-tiered structure that allows participants to graduate to increasingly higher levels of ambassadorship status. Those who reach the third and final level earn a credential as a reward.

“Each level is obtained by ambassadors sharing content, or hosting events at their regional offices, in addition to taking training modules that we have either created, or integrated from places like LinkedIn Learning. Given the increasing attention on cybersecurity, providing an industry credential would be a meaningful incentive,” she explained.

To aid ambassadors, Bery’s team hosts monthly talks to educate them about the latest security trends and best practices, which they, in turn, can share with their local teams.

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“Partnering with ambassadors allows us to tailor content for regions and cultures, as well as threat trends targeting specific job functions or locations,” said Bery. “To keep ambassadors engaged and motivated, I developed recognition and certification plans that give them visibility at the corporate level for all their efforts, and provide certificates they can put on their resumes for external recognition.”

The ambassador program is just one facet of a large security awareness strategy within Equinix. Bery also conducts targeted phishing simulation exercises that analyze user behavior and clickthrough rates. “Not only are we educating global employees in many countries, cultures and languages, but we measure results in order to track impact on their security behavior,” Bery noted. Additionally, Bery operates a social media channel on Yammer that features a variety of useful content, including best practices, infographics and games. “We have an average daily engagement of 1000-plus users with content views, comments, and games played,” she said.

Bery has also taken on the responsibility of empowering other women in the cyber industry. Within Equinix, she created a group within Equinix called “Be Bold” that meets once a week to, in her words, “discuss challenges such as speaking out and being heard in teams where we are largely outnumbered by men." Currently the group is limited to cyber personnel, but Bery looks forward to eventually expanding its reach across the company. Be Bold also offers group chat channels through which members can seek mentorship and professional guidance.

Additionally, Bery joined an effort at Equinix to create internship opportunities for women engineers interested in cyber, and she also mentors underrepresented students through the non-profit Base Camp Coding academy.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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