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Women in Cyber Series: Day in the Life of a Threat Research Analyst

"I would like to see more women in technology, and I think we’re making steps in the right direction." Threat research analyst Ursula Cowan writes for the Women in Cyber series.

April 13, 2020
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As part of our series celebrating Women in Cyber, we are recognizing the achievements of women in science and technology by sharing insights from the women leaders of Verodin. In our last blog of our “Day in the Life” series, we introduce you to Ursula Cowan, who works with Verodin as a threat research analyst.

My background is in law enforcement. I specialized in investigating Internet crimes against children, and during this time, I really started to learn and dig deep into computer forensics, like how IP addresses work and how computers relay information. I spent 11 years in law enforcement, so when it was time to make a career change, I wasn’t sure how best to apply my skillsets – I was living in Florida where there was a big technology presence with NASA and other companies, so I started to ask around and wound up with Harris Corporation (Now L3Harris) where I worked as a SOC analyst.

As SOC analysts, we were the first line of defense against malicious cyber attacks. In this role, I was using around a hundred tools to make sure that the network was secure and to investigate anomalies. This was when I first became acquainted with FireEye and eventually Verodin, and I kept thinking that this is a company I’d like to work for. I wanted to make a change, start doing more in-depth cybersecurity investigations, and in January of this year, I joined the company!

As a Senior Threat Research Analyst, I find and research techniques and tactics being used by threat actors. I do this by breaking down specific behaviors and creating actions for the Verodin product, so that other companies can use our solution to test and validate their security software.

I enjoy what I do. My role here at Verodin enables me to bring in my many years as an investigator so that I can figure out why something is happening and how to stop it. It’s also important to me that we’re having a positive effect on the community and the world, because in cybersecurity, we are fighting a faceless threat that a lot of people don’t know about or simply ignore.

I would like to see more women in technology, and I think we’re making steps in the right direction. But we can do better, and that starts by getting into the mindsets of younger females while they’re still in school. They need to know that they can do whatever they want. I think that for cybersecurity specifically, one of the challenges we face is that we’re still a young industry, so there is some lack of awareness about the industry itself and what it includes.

For women who are thinking of entering cybersecurity, my advice is first and foremost for you to know that you belong and there is place for you if you have a passion about information security. Additionally, it’s important to think outside the box. Consider all the angles, and if something is not working, take a step back and re-think it. Also, I recommend trying to find a mentor to help you figure out what path to take since there are many avenues for all different skillsets. Finally, just do it. Many people think they need to check all the boxes and have all of the certifications, but that’s not accurate. People in cybersecurity come from all different types of backgrounds – from computers to police officers. Bottom line, if you have the desire, then you can do it. It’s just about finding the right fit for you.

Want to hear more from leading women in cyber? Visit here to subscribe to the Verodin Cybersecurity Effectiveness Podcast, winner of the 2020 Cybersecurity Excellence Awards in the category of best cybersecurity podcast for a company with 1,000 to 4,999 employees. Listen in to our latest podcast series and gain insights from some of the most powerful women in cyber.

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