Women in the cybersecurity industry couldn’t thrive without advocates like the five women honored here.

Nada Marie Anid
vice president for strategic communications and external affairs, New York Institute of Technology

The first female dean of the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, Nada Marie Anid has been a prominent advocate for the school’s efforts to build a robust cybersecurity discipline and establish thought leadership. Named as NYIT’s first vice president for strategic communications and external affairs last year, she has long supported women pursuing STEM careers and has called for academia to fuel U.S. dominance in cybersecurity, AI and machine learning dominance.

Under Anid’s leadership, NYIT held its 10th Annual Cybersecurity Conference, a series she initiated, and kicked off the inaugural NYIT Women’s Corporate Council to help guide and mentor students and staff by facilitating relationships with tech and IT leaders.  –Teri Robinson

Galina Antova,
co-founder and chief business development officer, Claroty

As co-founder and chief business development officer at ICS/OT security firm Claroty, Galina Antova is helping lead the charge to fortify and optimize industrial networks running the world’s most critical infrastructure. Before establishing Claroty in 2015, Antova was the global head of industrial security services at Siemens, where she was tasked with leading its cybersecurity practice and its Cyber Security Operation Center, providing managed security services for ICS operations. Antova has championed gender equality and diversity in the cyber industry while speaking at venues like RSA and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. She’s also previously served as an “Activator” with SheEO, a global initiative offering expertise, professional networks and low-interest loans to women-led ventures. – Bradley Barth

Buffy Ellis, general manager, academy, Focal Point Data Risk

Buffy Ellis had no idea she was headed for a career in IT security when she started out as a wire systems installer for the U.S. Army back in the early 1990s.

Not long after that experience the Internet exploded and Ellis decided to become a network engineer. While working in Tier 2 support at an ISP, she began to notice unusually high, asymmetric Voice over IP traffic from several large business customers. Turns out much of it was fraud.

“What we found is that companies had VoIP servers with default configurations that hackers were exploiting to make free international calls while running up large bills for the company,” Ellis explains. 

This experience created in Ellis a love of network forensics and a determination to leverage analytic tools to help businesses discover and eliminate such exploitation.

But Ellis says her “epiphany” with IT security came in 2007 when a hack in Estonia allegedly by the Russians brought down banking sites and government offices for the better part of a day.

Ellis says the Estonian DDoS attack made her realize how critical access to the Internet had become in almost every facet of the daily lives of a country and its citizens. Although previous security events had disrupted business processes and website accessibility, the Estonian attack affected daily business, the news and banking, resulting in civil unrest and riots. 

“It was worldwide news,” Ellis says. “The attack had a profound impact on many nations’ leaders and cybersecurity became a real, heavily funded part of national security. The Estonian attack did strongly influence me to focus on security.”

In the early 2010s, Ellis started working as a contract instructor for Focal Point Data Risk. Today, she manages the company’s training operation, but still tries to stay hands-on.

“I find that the best possible approach is to give people an anecdote,” Ellis says. “I try to show students how readily available personal data about them is available on the dark web and that the attacks they hear about on the news are not abstractions, they really can happen. I try to impress on them that some multinational companies have more assets at risk than some governments.”  – Steve Zurier

Lea Hurley
vice president,Booz Allen Hamilton

Lea Hurley is one of Booz Allen’s point people for its interaction with military clients and currently is a leader in Booz Allen’s Navy Marine Corps business, focusing on serving defense clients from Europe and Asia. However, internally she is leading the charge as a vocal advocate for cyber workforce development, increasing diversity in STEM and mentoring and is spearheading efforts to transform how Booz Allen recruits, trains and retains best-in-class cyber talent. She has helped reimagine the company’s recruiting process, creating more engaging and targeted job descriptions, which resulted in a major uptick in getting qualified cyber candidates to apply for the available positions. – Doug Olenick.

Charlotte Wylie
chief of staff, global security office, Symantec

Charlotte Wylie is justly applauded for her excellent work at Symantec where she is known as someone who can get things done on the technology side of the business. But receive a similar level of kudos for her work on diversity and influencing the culture at Symantec to promote a culture of security from within. In just one year at the company Wylie has increased the female applicant conversation rate by 40 percent which led to a general increase in the number of women staffers by seven percent, bringing the total share of women employees in Symantec’s Global Security Office to about 25 percent.   – Doug Olenick