If you ever heard me introduce myself it probably went like this “Hi, I’m Tasha. Cybersecurity Nerd on the quest to take over the world.” To some, it may sound like an empty slogan, however, I assure you this is truly how I feel. When I discovered cybersecurity I quickly became immersed.
This wasn’t just a job for me. Cybersecurity was/is a lifestyle. I found myself spending countless hours developing my technical skills, studying different adversaries and their TTPs, or keeping up to date with current events in the hacker news.
Connect with me on LinkedIn!
Cybersecurity Junkie Origin Story
My journey through cybersecurity included a strong pursuit of skills and knowledge which led to my attendance at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, Fullstack Academy: Cybersecurity Bootcamp, and various certifications. These in conjunction with an undergraduate degree in business contributed greatly to my desire to network and develop professional relationships.
Last year I had the opportunity to participate in BsidesLV, BlackHat, and Defcon for Hacker Summer Camp, where my life was forever changed. I fell in love and needed more. Thus, the conference junkie was born. Currently my mission for 2023 is to attend at least one in-person security conference or event per month. I’ve attended several conferences, which include ShmooCon, BsidesSF, and BsidesCharm. The one I anticipated the most was the RSA Conference. It did not disappoint! RSAC was everything it was hyped up to be and much more.
Watch "RSA Key Takeaways" with special guest, Tasha Holloway:
The unofficial theme of the entire conference was AI. It was the queen of the ball. Everything from Machine Learning, ChatGPT, OpenAI, etc., it was probably being talked about.
My Key Takeaway
AI is currently in the “Wild Wild West'' phase of its life cycle. We are still learning and developing the concept of what it all means. Which makes the topic of security extremely hard to tackle. We are still trying to map out how to implement proper security processes, procedures, and protocols.
So basically, AI is here to stay whether we like it or not.
Swag & Vibes
The Expo Halls did not disappoint. It was truly a “had to be there” experience.” I left with 54 T-shirts, 10 pairs of socks, five bags, a hoodie, two mugs, five sets of shades/glasses, two capes, three lightsabers, four yoyos, and a signed autograph from ‘90s Superman Dean Cain (thanks #Uptycs).
I have no regrets… and yes, I wear and use all my swag. If you see me walking around with a lightsaber, a cape and shades, don’t ask any questions, just keep walking.
My Key Takeaway
When you are grabbing all the free stuff your heart desires, keep in mind that you have to have a plane to take everything home.
Location, Location, Location
Location matters! I learned this harsh lesson a while ago, which still stands true. Your hotel location matters. Multiple events will occur, including planned, impromptu outings and everything in between. Networking is at its peak during these events . You will lose out on the potential for countless opportunities simply because you are too far from everything.
My Key Takeaway
Make sure your hotel is within a 10-minute walking distance from the conference venue!
We all know the cybersecurity industry has been known to have diversity issues. “Only 9% of cybersecurity experts are Black, about 8% are Asian and 4% are Hispanic, according to the Aspen Digital Tech Policy report. To be fair, there have been efforts to make the industry more diverse and inclusive, but there is still more work to be done..
RSAC had a Diversity and Inclusion track speaking track this year. This shows the conference is actively trying to strengthen the diversity numbers, which I absolutely love. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the minority representation. Organizations such as Cyversity, BlackGirlsHack, Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu, WiCYs, Raices Cyber, and Pacific Hackers Association are fighting the good fight for inclusion. As these organizations work toward bridging the gap and improving diversity I am optimistic for the future.
My Key Takeaway
Things will not change overnight, but changes are taking place. Some fantastic organizations are helping to break down barriers and bridge the gap between existing industry demographics.
As I reflect (and recover) from my days at RSAC, I am just in awe of how far in life I’ve come. Not too long ago, I was trying to figure out how to break into the cybersecurity field. Now here I am, arriving at my first RSAC and strangers knowing who I am. The idea alone is insane to me. networking & branding and cybersecurity are huge components in my life, and I somehow manage to make this a part of my career. I can honestly say I am living a dream.
At the end of the day I am just a Cybersecurity Nerd who wants to meet other cybersecurity nerds and “nerd out” with each other. So, next time you see, say hi. Just keep in mind, as you know, Selfies Are Mandatory!!!!!