Respect in Security, an organization that recently launched a campaign, published research that confirmed the fact that harassment and abuse are common among security professionals. The research also revealed that a third (33%) of security professionals have experienced harassment at work, online or at events. The question now is: Will 50 cybersecurity companies sign a pledge for a safe workplace?
Research by Respect in Security reveals how much abuse and harassment there is
Respect in Security was established in order to assist victims and to coordinate an industry response. Anyone who is open to it can see the harassment of women online. Respect in Security’s research revealed that cybersecurity professionals have fallen prey to the abuse both online and in person. There was a clear split in genders according to Respect in Security.
In-person harassment was dominated by work socials at 48%. Next came at the workplace at 47%, and industry events at 36%. Online abuse is a topic that was highlighted by the study. 44% of all cases were reported on Twitter while 37% occurred via email.
While 82% said their employer had anti-harassment policy, only 45% thought that these policies could be improved to ensure everyone is aware of unacceptable behaviour. In fact, 42% of those questioned said that transparency was needed in dealing with these cases. 16% would not even report such incidents.
Respect in Security is an initiative that aims to be a catalyst for positive change. Lisa Forte, Rik Ferguson and Rik Smith were my co-founders.
They did it because they wanted to diversify the industry.
After a long career that started with helping Somali pirates to land off Somalia’s coast, Lisa founded Red Goat Cyber Security in 2017. She says, “I moved on to one of the UK Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Units and then into one of UK Police Cyber Crime Units.”
Rik’s journey to become Trend Micro’s vice-president for security research was a different one. He says that he started as a helpdesk operator in 1994 and has steadily progressed, gaining experience, certifications, and more.
They share a mutual admiration of those who helped them in their journey. Lisa focuses on social engineering pioneer Christopher Hadnagy, and Have I Been Pwned founding founder Troy Hunt. Lisa tells me that these gentlemen are not only incredible mentors, but have also given me plenty of their time without any public praise, awards, or recognition. It was their desire to help others and make the industry better.
Rik said that it was a blessing to have had “impressive mentors and bosses” who have helped him. Even the most prominent people in our industry, Rik is open to sharing their knowledge and experience.
Cybersecurity community: The dark side
Rik said that cybersecurity professionals are subject to “dehumanizing demeaning and insidious harass that saps self confidence” and that this can lead to them withdrawing from speaking slots and questioning their self-worth.
Lisa was victim to trolling, abuse and stalking online over the past couple years, as her profile gained more attention. Lisa explained to me that she realized the truth of it all. She has seen so much of this behaviour, and it is almost a standard. She says, “I’ve been through terrible times,” but she is one of the fortunate ones.” Lisa is proud to not be vulnerable, isolated or suffer from mental illness. Lisa also appreciates having a tough boss. Lisa asks “If you have suffered this much, how dark is it for those with anxiety problems?”
Respect in Security was created out of Lisa’s presentation at Cyber House Party detailing the abuse she suffered just for being a cybersecurity woman. Respect in Security was born out of a conversation Rik had with Marc Avery (co-founder of Cyber House Party’s charity fundraising event).
Lisa states, “I hope that we can bring the issue out of shadows and get it on peoples’ front doors.” Lisa also says, “I don’t believe we will ever completely eliminate harassment in the industry nor make huge changes overnight. But all fires begin with a spark.” This fire must be lit today.
Are 50 cybersecurity companies going to pledge not to harass anyone in 2021?
Respect in Security’s first goal is for at least 50 organizations to sign a pledge before 2021. Rik states that one aspect of Respect in Security’s pledge is that all organizations should make public their grievance policies so that victims of harassment can know how to contact their employer. Rik Ferguson concluded that “the more companies we have onboard, the more industry will be unambiguous in its zero tolerance for harassment.”
Many cybersecurity companies have signed the Respect in Security Pledge, which includes Trend Micro, CyberOFF Ltd., IN Security Movement and Custodian360.
We want our workplaces to embrace diversity and allow everyone to do their best and be respected. Hayley-Rose Hill (Arqiva’s performance, engagement, and inclusion leader) stated that there is no tolerance for harassment of any kind.
Our culture is built on the principle of creating and encouraging open discussion about diversity, equality, and inclusion, and also encouraging compassion. Trend Micro’s global senior human resource director Lauren McKenna stated that this is why they have committed to Respect in Security as well as our promise to support a community and workplace free of harassment and fear.
Every fire starts with a spark. Security respect begins here
Find out what the Respect in Security pledge means for you and your company here. You can also find out how you can make cybersecurity safer and more inclusive for everyone here.
It is unusual for me to make a personal pledge in order to end this story.
- I believe that the profession of law should be safe, secure, supportive, and will uphold this belief in my conduct.
- I won’t harass, abuse or threaten anyone online or offline.
- Respectfully engage with peers, with honesty and tolerance.
What about you? This is where it all begins.Publiated at Thu 22 July 2021, 07:45:53 +0000