features, Most Inspiring Women in Cyber

Most Inspiring Women in Cyber 2021: Bindu Sundaresan, Director at AT&T Security 

The IT Security Guru’s Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Awards aims to shed a light on the remarkable women in our industry. The following is a feature on just one of the many phenomenal women put forward for the 2021 awards. Presented in a Q&A format, the nominee’s answers are written in their own words with minor edits made by the editor for readability.

This year, the awards are sponsored by KPMG and Beazley.

What does your job role entail?

I provide strategic and tactical cybersecurity consulting services to customers and specialize in collaborating with clients on cybersecurity, technology transformation, cyber-risk, compliance, and data governance initiatives. I lead a team of security professionals responsible for providing consultative services specific to Trusted Advisor engagement, Incident Response, Forensics, Threat/Vulnerability Management services, and compliance assessments. I leverage my extensive technical skills as I advise customers through workshops, speaking engagements, and industry forums. I counsel customers on how best to optimize their business benefits and drive organizational improvements by sustaining security protocols, managing compliance, and mitigating risk. In addition to providing subject matter expert support, I am responsible for defining services across Cybersecurity Consulting based on client-specific security challenges. 

How did you get into the cybersecurity industry?

My experience, which spans more than 20 years, has been shaped by the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most innovative companies. I have worked with industry frameworks, including NIST/ISO/HITRUST, regulatory requirements including PCI, NERC, and HIPAA. I have led dozens of cyber-risk engagements for Fortune 500 clients from strategy to technology implementation to breach response. I was tapped to lead a complex PCI and HIPAA compliance assessment for a leading global retailer, spearheaded a $1M security assessment, and worked on securing Criminal Justice Information Sharing Networks in NYC. Before AT&T, I was a Senior Manager with Verisign. Before joining Verisign, I was a Senior Consultant with KPMG and a Senior Network engineer. My love for teaching and mentoring started with my role as an Adjunct Faculty with the State University of New York (SUNY).

What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman in the tech/cyber industry and how did you overcome it?

I have more often than not been the only woman in the room full of male executives, often the only colored woman. The lack of gender balanced InfoSec teams has been a long standing problem. I was able to help bring different perspectives to the table, change the status quo to improve internal and external perceptions and provide learning and growth opportunities to the next generation of talent.

What are your top three greatest accomplishments you have achieved during your career so far?

  1. Helping to recruit other women of color talent to the cybersecurity space. 
  2. Help communicate the value of cyber to business audiences and not see this as just a technology problem. 
  3. Being recognized as 2021 Woman of Color – Outstanding Technical contribution definitely brought validation to all of the efforts. Reframing common misconceptions women have about cybersecurity is important for helping them see the opportunities in the field.

What are you doing to support other women, and/or to increase diversity, in the tech/cyber industry?

Being a cybersecurity evangelist, I participate in many diversity and inclusion programs, technology development programs to nurture future talent and help them see how cybersecurity has many opportunities for women.

What is one piece of advice you would give to girls/women looking to enter the cybersecurity Industry?

Entering a field dominated by people who are different from you can seem intimidating, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find success. While cybersecurity and many other fields have room for improvement when it comes to representation and fair treatment, change doesn’t happen overnight. The field needs strong women to continue building on the work of those who’ve already started blazing this trail. Dream it and you can definitely be it. 

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