Women in IT Security: Influencers
Women in IT Security: Influencers

Kristin Judge, director of special projects and government affairs, National Cyber Security Alliance

In the world of cybersecurity it's more often the case than not that the CISOs, cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers and others are handed the headlines. But, by giving these folks center stage, other, equally deserving people, may not receive the recognition they deserve.

To some, Kristin Judge personifies this group of people. Judge does not work on the bleeding edge protecting companies and organizations from hackers, but the work she does as director of special projects and government affairs for the National Cyber Security Alliance, and other organizations, where she leads the way in awareness and education on cybersecurity is just as important.

“As we continue to understand the critical role of end-users in the security ecosystem, it is important to also highlight those working in the education and awareness space,” Ben De Bont, vice president & CISO, IBM Watson & IBM Cloud, says regarding Judge.

Her current position is centered on teaching consumers, government officials and those in the corporate world on how to protect sensitive data, people particularly at risk because they are not familiar with cybersecurity.

“The population who are not IT professionals can find cybersecurity and technology intimidating," Judge says. "When a person starts out intimidated by security and feels encouraged to change their behavior, I feel like I am making a difference."

This is a role she is well situated to handle having received her masters in education and masters in counseling from Arizona State University, in addition to a BS in education from Northern Arizona University. But the deciding factor that helped maneuvere her into the cybersecurity world was when several local high school students in her town became the prey of an online predator.

“Our community is highly educated, but the parents seemed defenseless against this new threat coming into their homes," Judge says. "I was fortunate to sit next to a cybersecurity leader from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at a national conference, and he asked me to help support his outreach and education efforts for elected officials on this very new topic at the time. From that moment on, I realized the need for cybersecurity education and became an advocate,” she says.

Now, her position with the NCSA allows Judge to proselytize for cybersecurity in a variety of ways, including speaking engagements, workshops and writing columns.

“The work I do at the NCSA is truly public service work, not much different than serving in elected office. Every day, our team takes on the responsibility of educating parents, kids, businesses, government and others about how to stay safer and more secure in this new and sometimes scary world we now live in,” she says.

The effort put forth by Judge and the NCSA is not lost on those who are in the trenches fighting cyberattackers on a daily basis.

“What sets Kristin apart from most security executives in my experience is that Kristin's ultimate goal is to help normal people understand the reality of cybersecurity, the implications and how best to protect themselves,” De Bont says. "This is her motivation and I admire it, especially as it is so often missing in our industry as one (often myself) becomes focused on protecting critical infrastructure or building a new security product or service."

In addition to Judge's work with the NCSA, Judge is co-chair of the National Institute of Standards and Technology: NICE Workgroup Workforce Management Subgroup, which works to facilitate, develop and promote cybersecurity workforce management guidance and measurement approaches to create a culture where the workforce can effectively address the cybersecurity risks of their organization. Judge is also a member of the board of advisers for the Center for Cyber Security & Intelligence Studies at University of Detroit Mercy.

“Our team is making a difference every day, and being a part of such a dynamic group of people​ is rewarding,” she says. "On a larger scale, being a part of the national 'family' of cybersecurity education and awareness professionals inspires me everyday. There is a true public-private partnership in cyber that I enjoy being a part of." – DO