Thought Leader – Mischel Kwon

Category: Thought Leader

Name: Mischel Kwon

Title: Founder and CEO

Company: MKACyber 

Why nominated: Mischel Kwon has the distinction of being The first-ever female director of US-CERT, and creator of the first-ever Security Operations Center at the Justice Department, Mischel Kwon has worked to change the way security operations are conducted in both the public and private sectors. 

Profile: After successfully leading US-Cert and creating the Justice Department's first SOC, Kwon shifted to the private sector, where for nearly eight years she's helped companies perform SOC builds, rebuilds, and assessments through her company MKACyber. 

The consulting company and Managed Security Operations Service leverages Kwon's vast expertise gained over 35 years working inside the U.S. government where she was the chief IT security technologist and deputy CISO at the DOJ, and also served as the first-ever female director of US-CERT. 

Kwon not only created the DOJ's first SOC, but she also established the US-CERT's Joint Agency Cyber Knowledge Exchange (JACKE), designed to improve collaborative efforts in detecting and mitigating threats to the .gov domain, and ensure that various agencies were briefed on classified information that affected them.

Known as in-the-trenches cybersecurity professional gifted with a strong business acumen, Kwon has garnered an impressive list of accolades and achievements. Key accomplishments include helping improve the security of low land radio systems in the U.S. and establishing a new security metric that helped move all land radio systems to a more secure system. 

For seven years, Kwon also taught as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University, where at one point she also ran the GW Cyber Defense Lab. And she created and operates the Cybersecurity Diversity Foundation, which supports diversity and inclusion in the field of cybersecurity. 

What colleagues say: There are few leaders in the cybersecurity industry whose experience, judgment and expertise command more respect than Mischel Kwon. Her formidable career spans more than three decades across all aspects of information technology and security, from software development, to network architecture, to security operations, and finally to being at the challenging helm of a successful and growing cybersecurity company… 

Her passion about security radiates and drives those around her to be at their best. I see that passion firsthand in Mischel's leadership in working together on developing MKACyber's security operations platform. Not only is she a visionary on the development side of the project, she has the innate ability to put herself in the shoes of the customer and users of the platform. There aren't many CEOs who have the ability to lead from the top, but also set the example at the code level. I consider her a mentor and am very lucky to have her as a leader and friend.

 - Stephen Cox, vice president of software development, MKACyber

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