Congratulations to Kulsoom Matin of Pakistan on being awarded Fractional CISO’s 2022 vCISO Cybersecurity Scholarship! Kulsoom came to the United States in 2015 to study at the University of Houston. Around this time, she was the victim of a data breach and began to learn about cybersecurity.
Now, she is pursuing a Master’s in Cybersecurity at the Georgia Institute of Technology. You can read her cybersecurity in her own words below.
Kulsoom’s Cybersecurity Journey
In 2015, I was victim to a data breach which resulted in my credit card information getting stolen. As a student, I had little to my name and was impacted financially by this. I was also a fresh immigrant, a young girl from Pakistan who was just starting to learn about the opportunities the United States held. Because of this incident, I immediately saw the benefit of performing a public service to fight digital crime. Blending this purpose with my passion for Information Technology, I feel strongly about safeguarding our citizens’ data and privacy through cybersecurity policy making. Additionally, I want to serve and help vulnerable communities by empowering them to own their digital footprint to better their lives.
During my Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, I gathered a universal view of the challenges and conflicts in the world. It taught me a multidisciplinary approach towards national and international economic and political systems, viewing them as a single theoretical framework. Additionally, I researched policy issues about content, governance, privacy and security, and intellectual property. Through computing classes, I learned how to secure our network systems. What started to take shape, as a result, was a critically conscious mind, interested in the digital work of cybercrime and security, charged to make a difference.
A Master’s in Cybersecurity will give me the necessary knowledge for creating and utilizing new cybersecurity tools for application in the real world. It will offer a chance to research current cyber policies as well as the opportunity to design policies focused on real-life environments. In a few years, I aspire to contribute to policy making and actively fostering public awareness for collective defense against cybercriminals.
Being focused on community service in college, I wrote a research paper titled “Jailed Women.” Upon visiting the female inmates in jail in Karachi, Pakistan, I learned that many of them were serving time for prostitution charges, an illegal act forced upon them through human trafficking. This sparked my interest in studying the psychology of human traffickers; an attempt to learn about and act on this injustice. Consequently, I began taking psychology courses, so I could comprehend human behaviors from the victims’ and the offenders’ standpoint. Today, I believe that cybersecurity cannot be strengthened with technology alone; a psychological approach in the policy making process, to understand the targets and cybercriminals, is what can keep our people, data, and systems safe.
In 2020, a United States Congressional hearing emphasized the use of the Tech Against Trafficking Interactive Map made from Power BI to identify victims and predict human traffickers’ behavioral patterns. Auspiciously, I have learned to use the software to create and analyze interactive dashboards at Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) as an IT Analyst. Understanding that programming languages are the building blocks of computer security, I intentionally volunteered for tasks to help sharpen my SQL skills. This experience has allowed me to highlight flawed codes that make the company’s network systems vulnerable to hackers. With a Master in Cybersecurity, I wish to apply and enhance my statistical data modeling and data analytics skills. I hope that this will help me generate evidence-informed policies to combat human trafficking atrocities worldwide.
With the pandemic, people are spending more time online. As a result, our computers and networks are more exposed and the current policies and legal framework adopted by our government remain undeveloped and ill-informed. In my mission to create and analyze these policies, I am keen to learn the potential of global internet governance. I further wish to learn how to manage the risks to our critical information structure in the private and public sector.
I often hear a voice inside my head that tells me: “you did not come this far, just to come this far.” Cybersecurity and privacy security is vital for the private sector, and for our government and military agencies. To serve this need, I am excited to share my diverse experience with my cohort members and learn from their perspectives to help prepare me for the next steps in my career. I am ready to embrace this opportunity to be able to serve and give back to the United States; a country that has given me so much!
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