Why are you hooked on cybersecurity?

by Black Hat Middle East and Africa
Why are you hooked on cybersecurity?

Welcome to the new 94 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 stages.

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This week we’re focused on…

What makes cybersecurity fascinating to leading professionals in the sector. 


Because we asked Dr. Srijith Nair (CISO at Careem) what first sparked his interest in cybersecurity, and he said:

“I remember being fascinated by the cat-and-mouse nature of cybersecurity. The delicate balance (dare I say) between the attackers and the defenders keeps this field an ever-intriguing one.” 

So we thought we’d look back at conversations we’ve had with other cybersecurity leaders over the last few months and take note of why they’ve chosen cybersecurity as their field of interest, work, and perpetual study. 

Passion has to be fed by persistence

Irene Corpuz (Founding Partner and Board Member, WiCSME) always had a passion for technology – but entering a male-dominated industry meant that passion had to be coupled with unwavering persistence. 

“I held firm to my expertise and experience,” she said, and “the turning point came when a forward-thinking entity acknowledged my potential and entrusted me with implementing a pivotal information security standard. This opportunity was a stepping stone that led to further accomplishments and paved the way for other women in the field.” 

And for Isabelle Meyer (Co-Founder and Co-CEO at ZENDATA Cybersecurity), the variety and unpredictable nature of her work in the industry keeps the fascination alive. She said:

“Every day is different! I meet with Royal families, Government, CEO, FBI, NSA, students. I talk about Threat Intel, OT environment, incident responses or building SOC. I advise on so many different types of projects and we get to know some of the most exciting intel around the world.”

Some cybersecurity leaders love connecting the dots

It’s a field that has to take into account a huge range of variables – from human behaviour to emerging technologies, and a lot of stuff in between. And some people, like Omar Khawaja (CISO at DataBricks), thrive on that. 

“Each person is wired differently,” he noted. “For me, I learned years ago that I thrive when I have an abundance of stimuli – it gives me more dots to connect.”

Betania Allo (Cyber Lawyer and Policy Expert) agrees that the blend of different disciplines and challenges can act as fuel for curiosity and discovery. While working at the United Nations she said she “witnessed the positive and negative sides of technology.” 

“Witnessing the intricate connection between international security, technology, and law fueled my desire to delve deeper,” she added. 

And Dr. Srijith Nair also pointed out that “the field of cybersecurity provides you a fascinating interplay of technology and macroscopic and microscopic human behaviour.”

“This, along with the fact that it provides a great opportunity to bring together my interest in information security, product development, human behaviour and organisation building, makes my job a rather interesting one.”

Experts arrive at cybersecurity from infinite different angles

Not everyone in cyber knew they wanted to work in the field right from the start. Stephen Bennett (Global CISO at Domino’s), for example, planned to work in the art world – but his “geeky side projects” in tech got him hooked, and drove him to pivot to a new path in cybersecurity. 

“I loved poking around under the hood of technology, seeing what makes it tick, and figuring out ways to make things work better, or just for my own entertainment,” he said. 

And finally, Abeer Khedr (CISO at National Bank of Egypt) shared this valuable perspective: 

“My advice to new cyber security professionals is to look for the fulfilment of continuous learning and achievement in their work and don’t stress over strictly separating their work and personal lives. Look to integrate them instead of separate them; it’s one life and work and personal are just different aspects of it. Enjoy what you do and be grateful for opportunities that come your way.” 

Why are you fascinated by cybersecurity? 

We’d love to know what keeps you hooked.

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 17 April 2024.

Catch you next week,
Steve Durning
Exhibition Director

Join us at Black Hat MEA 2024 to grow your network, expand your knowledge, and build your business.

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