Cybersecurity has long been known for its dark undertones, often dominated by fear-filled narratives of impending doom.
Microsoft's Vasu Jakkal envisions a different reality. In a world where cybersecurity is increasingly integral to all life and business, she sees the potential for a shift from fear to hope, from exclusive to inclusive, and from stagnation to innovation. This shift, she argues, is not just a hopeful aspiration but a necessity.
"We need to change the security narrative from fear-filled dark tones to hope-filled, optimistic, innovative tones for several reasons. First and foremost, security is a prime driver for innovation, and it needs to inspire and empower people... If we don't involve everyone, if we continue to think of security as exclusive and fear-filled, then we are creating barriers to entry for defenders to participate," Jakkal said during a recent interview.
Increasing diversity within the cybersecurity sector is paramount in Jakkal's vision. She sees diversity as the key to unlocking innovative thinking and generating a wider array of defense strategies against cyber threats. Cyber attackers are diverse, and if defenders aren't equally varied in their backgrounds and thinking, they're already a step behind in this ongoing battle.
Jakkal further advocates for the role of artificial intelligence in reshaping the landscape of cybersecurity, considering AI a powerful tool for defenders. With the advent of generative AI, we see a paradigm shift that empowers a broader group of individuals to engage in cybersecurity.
"Through the tools we see in generative AI, English became the most powerful coding language. So now, by nature, you're going to have many more people able to participate in security," Jakkal emphasized.
On the other side of the coin, Jakkal does recognize the potential of AI being wielded by malicious actors. Cyber attackers are not ignorant of the power of AI and will utilize every tool at their disposal. In response to this threat, she argues that the cybersecurity sector must strive to stay a step ahead.
"The attackers are going to have the tools of AI, and they are going to leverage that... we as defenders need to stay ahead of that. And I do believe things like [Microsoft's] Security Copilot and generative AI change the asymmetry of that battle," Jakkal said.
The fusion of AI and diversity in cybersecurity represents a significant shift in the narrative of this field. As we navigate this ever-evolving digital landscape, this combined approach of tapping into diverse talents and AI's potential may be our most effective strategy for staying ahead of the threats. It's time we leave behind the fear-filled rhetoric and step into a more inclusive and innovative future for cybersecurity.