History tells tales. When I travel during days off to other regions of the world, I look for the fun spots but also the sites honoring the city’s turbulent periods. I’ve learned that these often mournful times comprising a region’s history also play parts in a present day that shows how equity, hope, goodness and justice rooted in their place instead, enabling the area to shine on and grow.

IllenaArmstrong
IllenaArmstrong

The same is true for the history and events of an industry. Right now, the information security profession seems to be experiencing some tumultuous times. On one hand, now is an ideal time to be a practitioner in this space given a critical need for knowledgeable talent, both experienced and fledgling. Yet, on the other, a seeming insularity and divisiveness within the community may be confounding the industry’s progress and growth.

A recent Motherboard article chronicling some industry chatter that followed the announcement of the DerbyCon event shutting down after this year examined discussion threads that occurred primarily in a closed group of 500 members on Facebook, which showed how “women, trans people, and other historically underrepresented groups continue to be scapegoats and targets” for some men in the information security space. As well, some initial chatter blaming “social justice warriors” for DerbyCon’s shutdown also made its way to Twitter, with still more threads from the Facebook group being shared there later.

The aftermath of the whole incident has resulted in a range of reactions from those who were directly involved. Meantime, some of us on the sidelines have been having our own discussions, with reactions ranging from surprise to anger to weariness. Recently, one long-time industry buddy noted how the whole thing seems to be just one in a string of happenings that illustrates how cliquish and fractious numerous pros in the industry can be and how intensely contentious the community overall seems to be. For me, having helmed content creation for quite some time at the now 30-year-old SC Media, some of the words and views seem to unveil differing levels of aversion to an increasingly diverse community of professionals powered by a thankfully flourishing diverse society.

Whatever your take, this most recent controversy about diversity in infosec should reaffirm and drive the call for industry players at all levels of experience to encourage more open, thoughtful and, yes, safe professional settings and industry interactions. We all play a part in this with our distinctive backgrounds, knowledge, skills and roles. Assisting those who have been in the industry when they need support, or welcoming and mentoring others who are just starting to cultivate careers are positive actions we all can engage in to help this sometimes grueling yet vibrant and indispensable industry shine on and grow.

Illena Armstrong is VP, editorial of SC Magazine.