Hang in there - things get better

by Black Hat Middle East and Africa
Hang in there - things get better

Welcome to the new 96 cyber warriors who joined us last week. 🥳 Each week, we'll be sharing insights from the Black Hat MEA community. Read exclusive interviews with industry experts and key findings from the #BHMEA23 keynote stage.

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This week we’re focused on…📢

The immense value of mentorship in cybersecurity. 


Because mentorship really matters. This week, we asked Betania Allo (Cyber Lawyer and Policy Expert) what she wishes she’d known at the beginning of her career. 

She said: 🎙️

“I would also whisper to my younger self, ‘Hang in there, things get better!’” 

And isn’t that all we need, sometimes? 

Building a career is hard. And building a career in cybersecurity can be really hard – there’s endless learning to do, and to someone at the start of their journey it can feel impenetrable. 

How can you get to a point where you’re the confident expert in the room? When is it OK to admit you don’t know the answer to a problem? What can you learn from study – and what can you only learn through experience? 

Mentorship doesn’t just guide us in good directions. It also keeps us going; giving us the motivation to push through when we feel like giving up. And in an industry with a serious skills gap, we need talented young cyber professionals to keep pushing through. 

So let us be your mentor today 💭

Well – let us give you a pep talk, at least. 

Yes, you: cybersecurity professional (or perhaps trainee) with a sense that your work right now is futile. You’re struggling. You work so hard, but it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. 

Your ideas aren’t being heard properly (or you haven’t got the confidence to share them yet); you feel like you’re making silly mistakes all the time; and you’re on the verge of convincing yourself you’re just not cut out for this work. 

Hold on. Take a breath. 😮‍💨

Everyone else doesn’t think you’re as bad as you think you are. 

Everyone started somewhere

You know that CISO giving a keynote at a conference who seems to know exactly what to say, and exactly what to do? They were new to cybersecurity once, too. 

That developer everyone talks about who’s developed their own philosophy and systems, and always seems to be three steps ahead of everyone else? They weren’t born that way, either. 

And that peer of yours – the talented industry novice who comes out with fresh ideas and seems at home among the heavyweights already? Nope – they’re probably not as confident as they seem. 

And no one knows everything

Here’s the thing: we talk to a lot of industry experts, CISOs, CTOs, CEOs – it’s part of our job. We’re in constant conversation with cybersecurity’s leading minds, and we absorb a lot of insights from them about what it’s like to work in cyber. 

And time and time again they tell us that they value curiosity far more than they value knowledge. 

No one knows everything – and the best in the industry don’t want to know everything. And importantly for you, they don’t want to employ people who think they know everything either. 

They want you: curious individual with an insatiable desire to learn, to grow, and to be better. The fact that you’re doubting yourself tells us you’re keen to become better – to expand your knowledge, skills, and awareness. So don’t be afraid of your self-doubt. Don’t let it tell you you’re not good enough. Instead, use it as a sign that you are cut out for this: because instead of fooling yourself into thinking you’ve got everything covered, you’re willing to acknowledge that there’s always more to learn. 

How confident are you in your skills today?

1. Very confident. vote

2. My confidence comes and goes. vote

3. Feeling unsure. vote

4. Not at all confident – on the verge of giving up. vote

It’s OK to go against the grain

“Now, I have the privilege of mentoring the next generation of cyber leaders,” Allo said, and “To them, I say this: don’t be scared of the unconventional. Cybersecurity thrives on diverse perspectives, so never hesitate to think outside the box.” 

It’s OK not to know the standard industry approach to everything. And it’s great to have alternative ideas, and figure out how to test them. 

Finally, Allo said:

“I don't lose sight of this truth: we have the power to rise above. Investing in education, nurturing confidence, and knowing one’s worth. True leadership doesn't resort to intimidation or power plays; it empowers and uplifts others.”

You are allowed to fail.

You’re not alone. 

You’ve got this. 

👀 Read our interview with Betania Allo: 3 Key challenges to smart city security 

Do you have an idea for a topic you'd like us to cover? We're eager to hear it! Drop us a message and share your thoughts. Our next newsletter is scheduled for 06 March 2024.

Catch you next week,
Steve Durning
Exhibition Director

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