Women in Tech: Cybersecurity decrypted by Khrystyna
Today, for this occasion of World Intellectual Property Day, nexten.io reveals its latest portrait of women in tech: Khrystyna, 25. She is a Ukrainian cyber security expert living in Canada and specializing in cyber security.
As the COVID pandemic started to spread worldwide in 2020, Khrystyna launched her own YouTube channel, Cyber Lady Grape, dedicated to cybersecurity issues. She’s tackled a host of topics in this field with one objective in mind: to enlighten professionals and consumers alike on the importance of protecting their data when surfing the Web, including the basics of protecting yourself, advice for individuals and businesses, and deciphering market trends. What’s more, to meet the demands of her community, she enriches her content by describing her own career and path as a female developer.
nexten.io: Khrystyna, thank you for this interview! We’re excited to be able to learn a bit more about your background.
Khrystyna: Thank you! I’m delighted to be with you, and excited to speak on the topic of cybersecurity—one I hold dear to heart! My name is Khrystyna. I’m originally from Ukraine, but I’ve been living in Canada for 3 years now. My passion is cyber security awareness, and that's why I chose to start creating content for YouTube during the pandemic. I really wanted to demystify this topic that remains so nebulous for many. It's simple: I had and still have only one goal in mind: to expose to everyone the urgency of knowing how to protect yourself on the internet. Each of us must realize how important it is to know how to protect our bank data, for example.
nexten.io: Today is World Intellectual Property Day. Can you explain this concept to us?
Khrystyna: Intellectual property is a tool that ensures protection for all the people behind a creation—whether it’s artistic or commercial. Where the subject becomes a little more delicate is that at the moment, the creators of digital content are still very little informed of their rights on what they create and share with their communities. We have to realize that in the digital world we’re evolving in at present, everything is moving at lightning speed. YouTubers and other influencers can find their content lifted if they’re not careful to protect it first.
nexten.io: In concrete terms, how can you protect yourself from content theft, for example?
Khrystyna: Let’s begin with a simple presumption: you should protect all content you create. Many regulations can help you to this end, including patents, copyrights, and designs. Unfortunately, many of those who post and publish to the Internet see their creations hijacked and robbed every day by ill-intentioned people. Start by protecting yourself by automatically adding a logo, your name, and/or links to your social networks each time you post content. Timestamping content with a date also adds a layer of security. Oh—another piece of advice for anyone starting out: wait until you've created and shared your content before talking about it to others. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Finally, in a professional context, management must effectively train employees on this topic. Even today, not all companies have understood how urgent it is to implement good practices within an organization. Intentional or not, all it takes is one data leak to wreak a lot of havoc. Putting working cybersecurity policies in place—such as storing internal files securely and keeping a systematic trace of exchanges—is thus essential.
nexten.io: Can you give us some simple and concrete examples of how companies can protect themselves from computer attacks?
Khrystyna: Here's one piece of advice I give regularly: if your browser, software, application, or OS offer you an update, do it without delay! They are regularly enriched with new patches and plugins that are designed to protect you from hackers. If you think you’re safe from this kind of attack just because you don't handle sensitive data on a daily basis, think again: you won't miss the breach!
nexten.io: Are there any women in IT who’ve inspired you?
Khrystyna: Yes! Masha Sedova for starters: she is the co-founder of the company Elevate Security. She speaks at conferences, public discussions, and other events, and helps to change risky behaviors within companies. I believe she can make a difference. She tackles a complicated subject: changing human behavior is a never-ending endeavor, as everyone is different, and partners are always coming and going. I also really like the work of Naomi Buckwalter, who’s very active on LinkedIn. She explains to managers the advantages of betting on junior developers and helping them increase their skills little by little. She also decrypts recruitment trends and a few grey areas in the sector. For example, finding senior cybersecurity help remains challenging (as it’s still a recent and constantly evolving sector), so some companies would be well advised to focus on the potential of junior recruits rather than seeking specialized managers from other sectors…
nexten.io: Your YouTube channel also inspires many other women! Can you tell us about the feedback you've had through this platform?
Khrystyna: At first, I dedicated my YouTube channel purely to cybersecurity. Then, in response to requests from some (especially some!), I started to address career topics more and more. During the pandemic specifically, more and more people asked me to go back over my career path and how I got there. The truth is that many of us are interested in cybersecurity because it's an industry of the future—and one that can be very lucrative if you put your mind to it. However, it's not necessarily a field for everyone. Before diving in, you have to make sure you enjoy computer science, and for that, you need to spend many hours of research on the topic! Most feedback I've received on my content has been very positive. My videos boast an average of 90% likes. However, some detractors are still very present... One day, a man asked me why I was wearing a dress when I was working in the field of cybersecurity. Apparently, I wasn’t warned that I had to follow the male dress code if I wanted to work in an IT related field!
nexten.io: How have you set yourself up to work in the best conditions?
Khrystyna: At home, I work with two laptops and two screens. When you work with data, it's important to have several screens to have a good overview. As for gadgets, I have a mechanical keyboard with optical switches that I love. I also use an iPad to create my personal content - for YouTube. I always try to keep my personal and professional work - and notifications - separate.
nexten.io: Do you listen to music while you work?
Khrystyna: While I'm working, I don't listen to much music; I like to stay focused. At the end of the day, I sometimes put on a lo-fi playlist, which creates a chill atmosphere and allows me to relax.
nexten.io: Any last words for our readers?
Khrystyna: I have an adage for life: you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take - you can’t succeed unless you try. When I left Ukraine to start my career, I put aside my life in my home country, my family, and my friends to focus on myself and my own life journey. I’ve felt alone more than once, but I’m very proud of everything I’ve accomplished—as well as all the risks I have taken. Don't hesitate—go for it!
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