Related: Advice to Women in IT – Collaborate 17 Panel Recap

JD Edwards Collaborate17 Women in IT LuncheonThis year’s speaker was Colonel Michelle L Hayworth who spoke on cyber defense in the US Air Force. She shared how complex of a job it is to defend the US from cyber attacks, and discussed how the government, like many of the companies we work with, is actively working to change its security policies from responsive and reactive to proactive.

I took three significant points away from her talk:

  1. Security is more important than ever, and it’s critical that we think about it before we need it. A bit of prevention is much easier than dealing with the aftermath of a data breach.
  2. In order to be proactive, many organizations need to change how they approve and write policies around security—technology and threats are constantly evolving, and bureaucracy and red tape can lead to real security risks.
  3. Education plays a major part in security as uninformed users are sometimes the greatest risk to a system. She shared how a phishing attack allowed an adversary to get into the Joint Chief of Staff’s computer.

Overall, attending an event with a room full of women in IT offered up an opportunity to see how many other women out there are passionate about our industry—and listening to the Colonel talk served as an inspiration for what is possible when you dedicate yourself to innovation in IT.