CIS student shares insights from national cybersecurity conference

Computer information systems (CIS) senior Jenna Waters was one of four female college students nationwide selected to receive a Building Cybersecurity Diversity Scholarship to attend the Financial Services–Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) Summit earlier this month. The FS-ISAC is a global financial industry resource for cyber and physical threat intelligence analysis and sharing. The organization established the scholarship to foster diversity in the workforce in an effort to address the growing and evolving nature of cybersecurity threats. Waters received an all-expenses-paid trip to the summit and $5,000 to use toward educational expenses.

insights cybersecurity conference
Waters (left) with former CIA Director John Brennan (center)

“Attending FS-ISAC was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a young professional,” she said, “and another opportunity to broaden my horizons while learning as much as I could within a few days’ time. It was incredibly valuable to meet with and to learn from leaders in cybersecurity. I was able to build a new perspective on how critical information sharing is to understanding the threats the financial industry faces.”

Waters, who plans to work in the field of cybersecurity after completing her degree at TU, found the sessions informative. In talking with industry professionals, she learned that threat intelligence is a key factor in designing and implementing security controls and developing security programs for financial institutions of all size. “I also now believe that ISACs (Information Sharing and Analysis Centers) are critical for every industry to succeed in cybersecurity,” she said.

While the FS-ISAC Summit was focused on the financial industry, Waters explained that threat intelligence is relevant to all industries. “The financial sector is one of the most mature in applying information sharing to developing threat models and intelligence, but understanding the importance of information sharing and how to develop real threat intelligence is valuable in any cybersecurity job.”

The need for professionals skilled in cybersecurity continues to grow at a rapid pace. Waters emphasizes that it’s also an area where individuals — especially women — can make a positive impact on an organization. “I believe women are a new source of skills, ideas and experiences that this industry is really lacking, and by pursuing a career in security, they have the potential to make a significant difference in our world. I encourage every woman in CIS or computer science to consider applying for this scholarship next year,” she said.

TU’s interdisciplinary CIS program exposes students to each aspect of the business world, including how different business departments operate and work together. “It’s helped to shape my perspective,” said Waters. “I don’t think of cybersecurity as limited to solely a technical field. It affects everything and everyone, whether you’re a small start-up, a large corporation, or an average at-home technology user. The CIS program has prepared me by giving me a strong technical foundation and also by teaching me how to bridge the gap between technology and people.”