Lysa Myers began her tenure in malware research labs in the weeks before the Melissa virus outbreak in 1999. She has watched both the malware landscape and the security technologies used to prevent threats from growing and changing dramatically. Because keeping up with all this change can be difficult for even the most tech-savvy users, she enjoys explaining security issues in an approachable manner for companies and consumers alike. Over the years, Myers has worked both within antivirus research labs, finding and analyzing new malware, and within the third-party testing industry to evaluate the effectiveness of security products. As a security researcher for ESET, she focuses on providing practical analysis and advice of security trends and events.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
As long as I can remember, I've been fairly outspoken and opinionated. That's something that serves me well in information security. Having the willingness (some might call it a compulsion) to tell people they're doing things "wrong" is a very helpful thing in this line of work.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position at ESET?
A lot of my previous experience has been in "young" groups. They were groups with something of a startup mentality, where not a lot had been codified, and we were learning as we went along. Much of what I did in those situations was to codify and document the processes and best practices. This helped us move more quickly going forward, so we could be more responsive to people needing help and information in the inevitable emergencies like malware outbreaks and major retail breaches.
Now that I'm within a group of seasoned experts, having that past experience of flying by the seat of my pants makes taking care of emergencies feels more sane and controlled.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at ESET?
The highlights so far have been the many opportunities to work with kids. For instance, I spoke at the F.A.N.C.Y. Teen Expo earlier this year about my experiences in information security to explain to the girls why they too might want to work in this area. A few weeks ago I helped out at the ESET Cyber Bootcamp. This was a training session for the top three teams from this year's Mayors' Cyber Cup, where the kids improved their ability to defend systems by learning how attackers get into networks. The biggest challenge so far is finding the time to write all the articles I want to get to, about the various subjects I've been researching since I started - particularly in the realm of education and healthcare. There is so much to say!
What advice can you offer women who are looking for a career in digital security?
It would depend in part on what area of digital security they're looking to get into. But generally speaking I would highly advise anyone looking to get into digital security to avail themselves of the excellent training that is out there for security professionals, such as with SANS. When I started, I learned a lot on the job by asking everyone a lot of questions. What took me years to glean is now available in a week-long class.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Working from home has made this balance very easy for me. Waiting for an edit on an article? Go in the other room and clean some dishes. Need a brain break? Walk outside and water the garden.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I don't know that there is any one issue that troubles all women in any workplace. Women with children will have one set of issues, women without children will have another. Women working from home will have one set of issues which differs from those of women working in an office.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
In my early days in information security, I had a number of people mentors. They encouraged me to write and to speak at conferences. They saw my potential in these areas even before I did, and they knew how valuable it would be to the community at large. It's hard to say where I would be right now if they had not supported me.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I recently had an opportunity to listen to Hillary Clinton speak at this year's HIMSS conference in Orlando. I was really impressed with how well she understands the geopolitical situations she was asked about, and how well she was able to explain these complex things. As someone who also spends her days trying to understand and explain complicated and technical things to a lay audience, I was in awe of her skill.
What do you want ESET to accomplish in the next year?
I'm very passionate about education, which is a big part of why I chose to work with ESET. ESET is very much invested in helping people learn to protect themselves online so that they can safely explore the world. I hope that we can continue reaching a wider and wider audience. In particular, we enjoy helping young people as they will be growing up in a post-Internet world with all the benefits and challenges that provides.