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

Emily Mossburg, principal, Deloitte & Touche

As student at Northwestern, Emily Mossberg decided to get a degree in environmental science rather than computer science so she didn't have to take two coding classes. There's more than a little irony in that.

In her first job right out of school she went to a consulting company that put her through six weeks of intensive coding training. Later, at Deloitte & Touche, she again found herself in an intensive six-week coding program, which she put to good use as a consultant.

When former co-workers eventually formed another company, called Exalt 2000, they lured Mossburg from straight-up tech to security. “I had a tech background, not security, but they said come over,” she says. Her former colleagues promised to get her up to speed so she jumped ship and went to security.

She quickly understood that transactions and data needed to be secured. “I thought this is not going to go away,” she says, and immersed herself in infosecurity.

“This space has changed tremendously,” says Mossburg, who has risen in the ranks at Deloitte to principal of Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory Cyber Risk Services. “Our first conversations about security were quite narrow and siloed and it was a component of IT.”

Now, cyber issues, cyber risk and cybersecurity “are at the forefront,” she says, explaining that clients across the board, no matter the industry or size, find themselves in the crosshairs of attackers. Deloitte's clients are dealing with pervasive attackers, Mossburg says. “In some cases, it's not even your enterprise they're interested in; they might be using your network to get it.”

And the threats have become more visible throughout organizations, stretching to the C-suite and boards, the latter of which often demand quarterly updates. “They want to be educated, to know the risk,” Mossburg says.

She says she's proud of the challenging and collaborative work with her clients, as well as the risk practice that Deloitte has built.

While she says that she's always been the kind of person who doesn't believe gender matters, she readily admits she's in an “area where there are significantly more men than women,” noting, as do many women in cybersecurity, that it's “not significantly abnormal to be the only woman in a meeting.”

But she's quick to point out, “I don't think it's a hard space for women, there are no barriers, it's not intimidating.” She sees more women interested in cybersecurity and risk, something she credits to the media and others who raise awareness of the opportunities in the space.

Mossburg also credits mentors at Deloitte and Exalt for encouraging and shepherding her along the way, including Ed Powers, a Deloitte national leader. “He gave me the opportunity to lead and grow our Resilient practice,” she says. “His having trust in me and my ability gave me the opportunity to lead and grow the business.”

As the dialog continues to change in cybersecurity, cyber risk becomes more important and women can take advantage of that, she says. “A new risk angle comes into play when developing a new product or service and there's a shift in the stakeholders and in the conversation on impact,” she says.

“Women like to focus on areas where communications is a key element of the space,” Mossburg contends. How to tell the story with the right level of detail, and to the right people, so decisions can be made about risk will be tremendously important, she says.

Facilitation and collaboration roles will likely attract more women who can “bridge the gap between the intersection of the technology elements and what it means to business,” says Mossburg. – TR