We’re delighted that cyber security expert and ‘Cyber Hunter’ Sophia McCall will be taking part in our CAS Autumn Event panel discussion on Cyber.
Sophia has appeared as a Cyber Hunter on Channel 4’s series Hunted, set up Security Queens to encourage diversity in the cyber industry and has won many awards.
She recently graduated from Bournemouth University with a First Class Honours in Cyber Security Management, has captained Team UK at the European Cyber Security Challenge and was awarded “Cybersecurity Student of the Year” this year in the SC Awards Europe.
She’s recently pioneered and created the brand, Security Queens, with two other women in security, a platform created to encourage diversity and document their learning journeys. She’s now started her first role in industry as a Junior Security Consultant in the technical field of penetration testing. We found out more about her work to inspire young people to get involved in cyber security.
Can you tell us a bit about your route into a Cyber career?
“Since a young age I had always excelled in IT and anything to do with technology, but before I started university - I never knew I could pursue a career in cybersecurity. I originally wanted to be a software developer and studied a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Software Development at college. At the end of my BTEC, I was signposted to a career in cybersecurity by a lecturer – I then applied to study cybersecurity at university and the rest is history!”
Could you explain a bit about your work in schools?
“Since starting university, I’ve been heavily involved with Cyber Security Challenge UK (CSCUK). CSCUK helped me breakthrough into the security industry – and do a lot of amazing work to encourage younger generations and school-age individuals to consider a career in cybersecurity. I helped attend roadshows and events with CSCUK, delivering talks and workshops to schools and programmes that CSCUK ran to help inspire the next generation of budding security professionals.
I also work with the NCSC’s Cyber Schools Hub program where I’ve also presented talks and workshops to help highlight cybersecurity as a career path – something that I greatly missed out upon when I was at school.
Talking to younger generations and students is a great passion of mine, as when I was at school there were limited opportunities to get involved with cybersecurity at a young age. To be able to change that for the next generation, to be able to enlighten and inspire individuals to the opportunities that are available – that, to me, feels so powerful.
What could teachers be doing differently to encourage students to develop their cyber skills? Any top tips?
The great thing about the cybersecurity industry is the wealth of resources and online material available to mentor and educate students to develop their skills. There are also a huge number of programs tailored to inspire school-aged children. My biggest tip would be to get involved with these programs and source and benefit from the resources available, they’re absolutely amazing and a great way to kickstart cybersecurity interest.
Do you have concerns about online safety/safe use of social media for young people? What should teachers/parents be doing?
Absolutely! I think younger generations are much more intertwined with social media than I was at their age (and that wasn’t too long ago!). The key concerns I have are mostly to do with privacy and safety regarding potential interactions with strangers online. I think it’s important to raise awareness in young people about the potential dangers of life online and educate them on basic security hygiene so they can protect themselves. Perhaps awareness campaigns at schools, or workshops that young people can attend. There are also loads of great reputable online resources that can be used to help get young people “clued up” on social media usage and staying safe – such as guidance from the NSPCC and the UK Safer Internet Centre.
What issues will you be discussing in your CAS Autumn Event webinar?
My webinar talk will mostly be talking about my personal journey into cybersecurity, and how networking and community involvement was a pillar piece in championing my breakthrough into the industry. I’ll also be talking about my top-tips into breaking into industry, and things I had wished I had done!
How can we get more girls to view cyber as a career option for them?
One thing that I struggled with when I started my journey, was looking past the stereotype of the “teenage boy in a hoodie” associated with cybersecurity. By attending seminars and events and seeing women succeed in the industry was a massive encouragement for me, and I think that success stories play a massive part in decision-making into viewing cyber as a career option. The industry is definitely getting better at exercising diversity and breaking the stereotype, but I think we still have a long way to go – and a lot we can do.