Cybersecurity Insights: An Exclusive Interview with InfoSec Professional Rakhi R Wadhwani

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, cybersecurity is more critical than ever before. With the constant advancements in technology, the need for vigilant protectors of digital assets has never been greater. Meet Rakhi R Wadhwani, an esteemed Infosec author, trainer, and auditor, who has dedicated her career to enhancing the security of our interconnected world. Rakhi’s journey in the field of Information Security has been a fascinating one, marked by her passion for safeguarding data, her commitment to educating others, and her meticulous approach to auditing systems for security gaps. As we delve into an exclusive interview with Rakhi, prepare to gain valuable insights into the world of Infosec, as she shares her experiences, expertise, and the ever-relevant knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of today’s cyber environment. Join us in this illuminating conversation, where we explore the mind of an Infosec expert, and discover the profound impact of her work on the security of our digital future.

Hackers Interview Media: As a seasoned expert in cyber security, could you provide a brief overview of your career journey, highlighting key milestones and pivotal moments that have shaped your expertise in this field?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : My journey in the infosec space has been very enriching, exciting and full of challenges. The learnings and discussions you have on a day-today basis working with colleagues and customers always encourage me to take another step further.

I found the Information Security to be fascinating and decided to pursue this as the application of the skill is endless. Now it has been more than 23+ years since I started looking at getting work in this domain and the excitement keeps me going.

My journey into the cyber security domain was not by my choice. Even in the school days, there were no specific choices for this domain. However, I always wanted to be in the technology domain. As it happened, my first job was in Information Technology; this is when I realized my passion for cyber security which I then took up seriously to build my professional career.

Hackers Interview Media: Cyber security is a rapidly evolving domain. How do you recommend aspiring cyber security professionals stay current with industry trends and advancements, and what resources or strategies have been particularly valuable in your own professional development?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : The world of security is dynamic and ever-changing, necessitating ongoing learning and adaptation. Whether you work in security, own a business, or are just curious, you should keep up with the latest security trends and best practices to protect your information and assets from physical attacks, cyber attacks, and other dangers. 

  • Following security news publications that cover breaking news, emerging threats, industry changes, and perspectives from experts.
  • Reading security blogs that provide in-depth analysis, insights, tips, and guidance from security professionals, practitioners, researchers, and enthusiasts.
  • Security podcasts are an excellent way to keep up with the most recent security trends and best practices if you prefer to listen to reading.
  • Attending security webinars that include live or recorded presentations, demonstrations, discussions, and Q&A sessions on various security themes, concerns, and solutions.
  • Enroll in security courses that offer structured and complete learning paths, modules, tests, and certifications if you want to go deeper and obtain additional skills and knowledge on certain security domains, subjects, or technologies.
  • Finally, joining security communities that provide platforms, forums, networks, and events for security professionals, enthusiasts, and learners to interact, collaborate, share, and learn from one another.

Hackers Interview Media: In your extensive experience, what do you believe are the most critical skills and qualities that aspiring cyber security professionals should cultivate to excel in the field?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : India is one of the most targeted nations in the world, and in recent years, server access assaults, ransomware attacks, and data thefts have attacked our businesses in particular. Finding the security experts to take on these positions is crucial, but given how ransomware has taken off, it’s obvious that these needs should be given more of a priority. There are a select few most sought-after skills for ambitious professionals who are eager to pursue a career in cybersecurity.

  • Understanding of Malware: It’s highly valued to be able to employ modern threat prevention tools that are made to find, recognize, and block advanced persistent threats. There are modern systems that successfully identify malware by utilizing AI/ML technologies.
  • Familiarity with these tools is essential:
    • Programming and coding expertise is required for the majority of technology-related employment.
    • Understanding of Network: Security breaches frequently target network vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity specialists need to be aware of how the network used by their company operates.
    • Knowledge of Encryption: Cybersecurity experts should have a solid understanding of data encryption techniques that can safeguard data and prevent illegal access.
    • Threat Modelling: A crucial skill since it serves as the foundation for identifying security requirements and creating security policies.
    • Risk Assessment: It can be useful to be responsible and skilled at seeing potential hazards and evaluating their seriousness and potential impact.
    • Collaboration: Collaboration is key to exploiting weaknesses and spotting threats. When it comes to handling breaches and incident response, the position also calls for collaboration with other corporate units.
    • Threat Knowledge: It’s critical to stay informed on the threat environment and various attack vectors.
    • Controls and Frameworks: An organization’s data and business activities can be secured with the aid of a cybersecurity framework, which offers a set of best practices, rules, tools, and security protocols.
    • Cloud Security: As more and more companies transition to cloud environments, having knowledge of cloud security is essential.
    • The development of cyber resilience requires the use of cyber literacy, which also presents an opportunity for increased interaction and collaboration between the public and commercial sectors.

Hackers Interview Media: Cyber security leaders often face the challenge of balancing robust security measures with business operational requirements. Can you share your perspective on achieving this balance effectively, and how you’ve managed it in your career?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : Organizations constantly struggle to strike the right balance between business needs and security in today’s fast-paced, interconnected environment. Strong security measures are necessary to safeguard sensitive data and defend against online threats. Businesses must, however, continue to be flexible, aggressive, and receptive to shifting consumer needs. In order to guarantee long-term success and sustainability, it is crucial to strike the proper balance between these two crucial factors.

I firmly believed that security should always come before commercial needs when I first started my career in security. Conflicts with the business teams did, however, occasionally arise when we unintentionally constituted a bottleneck for their requirements. I improved my knowledge of many business fields as I advanced in my profession and was exposed to the business side of operations, and I also grew more adaptive and agile.

I now have a better understanding of the missions and objectives of organizations, and I also see how crucial it is to strike a balance between commercial needs and security requirements. It was vital to interact with the business side, understand their needs, and deliver targeted security suggestions and implementations rather than pushing solutions out of context.

Security personnel can benefit the firm by adopting a more business-focused mentality. Making better decisions when deploying security measures is made possible by understanding the complexities of the business. Security experts can learn about the goals, difficulties, and priorities of business teams by actively engaging with them. Security experts can recommend and put into place security measures that are in line with the particular requirements and risk tolerance of the firm thanks to this collaboration.

Together, security and business teams may create cutting-edge solutions that safeguard vital assets while easing the accomplishment of corporate objectives. It is crucial to recognize that security is a tool to support the broader goals of the company and not a goal in and of itself. With this strategy, security is maintained as a facilitator rather than a barrier. Here are some tactics for striking a balance between business needs and security requirements: Security By Design, Risk Assessment and Prioritization, Collaboration and Communication, Continuous Monitoring and Adaptation, Employee Education and Awareness

Hackers Interview Media: Many organizations today face a shortage of cybersecurity talent. What advice do you have for CISOs and leaders on attracting and retaining top cyber security talent in their teams?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : Attracting and retaining top cybersecurity talent is a critical challenge for many organizations today, given the increasing importance of cybersecurity in the digital age. Here is some advice for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and leaders on how to address this talent shortage effectively:

  • Competitive Compensation: Offer competitive salaries and benefits.
  • Professional Development: Invest in professional development opportunities.
  • Career Advancement Paths: Provide clear career advancement paths within the organization.
  • Challenging Projects: Assign challenging and meaningful projects to cybersecurity team.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Consider offering flexible work arrangements which helps attract talent from diverse locations and accommodate work-life balance.
  • Supportive Work Environment: Foster a supportive and inclusive work environment.
  • Recognition and Rewards: Recognize and reward outstanding performance.
  • Collaboration and Learning: Encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing among team members.
  • Cybersecurity Culture: Promote a cybersecurity culture throughout the organization.
  • Recruitment and Networking: Build a strong recruitment and networking strategy. 
  • Employee Feedback: Regularly seek feedback from the cybersecurity team.
  • Cybersecurity Tools and Resources: Provide your team with the best tools and resources to do their jobs effectively.
  • Mentorship and Leadership Development: Implement mentorship programs and leadership development initiatives.
  • Incentives for Staying Current: Offer incentives for staying current with the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape.
  • Cybersecurity Awareness and Training for All Employees: Promote cybersecurity awareness and training not just for the cybersecurity team but for all employees.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Embrace diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Remember that retaining cybersecurity talent is an ongoing process. Continuously assess your strategies and adapt them to the evolving needs and expectations of your team members. By prioritizing the well-being and professional growth of your cybersecurity professionals, you can build a strong and resilient cybersecurity team.

Hackers Interview Media: For cyber security students aiming to specialize in areas like Information Risk Management or Regulatory Compliance, what guidance or career pathways would you suggest to help them achieve their goals?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : Specializing in areas like Information Risk Management or Regulatory Compliance within the field of cybersecurity can be a rewarding career choice, as organizations increasingly recognize the importance of managing risks and complying with data protection regulations. Here are some guidance and career pathways to help students achieve their goals in these specialized areas:

  • Foundation in Cybersecurity: Start by building a solid foundation in cybersecurity.
  • Cybersecurity Education: Pursue formal education in cybersecurity.
  • Certifications: Obtain relevant certifications: Consider certifications such as: Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Certified Information Security Manager, Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control, Certified Information Systems Auditor, Certified Risk Manager, Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager, etc.
  • Gain Practical Experience: Gain hands-on experience through internships, entry-level positions, or cybersecurity-related projects.
  • Specialized Training: Seek specialized training in risk management and compliance.
  • Legal and Regulatory Knowledge: Develop a deep understanding of relevant laws and regulations.
  • Soft Skills: Develop strong communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills.
  • Networking: Join professional organizations and attend industry conferences. 
  • Specialization in Risk Management: If you’re interested in information risk management, consider specializing further in areas such as enterprise risk management, cybersecurity risk assessment, or business continuity planning.
  • Specialization in Regulatory Compliance: For regulatory compliance, focus on specific industries like healthcare (HIPAA), finance (PCI DSS), or international data protection regulations (GDPR). Gain expertise in the relevant compliance frameworks.
  • Consulting or In-House Roles: Decide whether you want to work in a consulting capacity, helping multiple clients with compliance and risk management, or if you prefer an in-house role within an organization. Both offer unique career paths.
  • Continual Learning: Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving field. Stay committed to continuous learning and professional development to remain current with emerging threats, technologies, and best practices.
  • Build a Portfolio: Document your projects, achievements, and contributions in risk management or compliance. Having a portfolio of your work can be valuable when applying for jobs or promotions.

Remember that career paths in cybersecurity can vary, and it’s essential to align your education and experiences with your specific interests and career goals. Networking with professionals already established in the field can provide valuable insights and guidance for your journey.

Hackers Interview Media: In your role as a trainer in cyber security, what key principles or best practices do you emphasize to help students bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the field?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : Bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical skills in cybersecurity is essential for students to become effective professionals in the field. As a cybersecurity trainer, I would emphasize several key principles and best practices to help students develop this critical bridge:

  • Hands-On Labs and Projects: Encourage students to participate in hands-on labs, capture-the-flag (CTF) challenges, and real-world projects. These activities help students apply theoretical concepts to practical scenarios.
  • Simulations and Cyber Ranges: Cyber Security Simulations, Virtual Environments and Cyber ranges provide a safe space for students to practice defending against and mitigating cyberattacks and these exercises mimic real-world scenarios and enhance practical skills.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Cybersecurity often involves complex and rapidly evolving threats. Teach students how to analyze problems, research solutions, and adapt to new challenges.
  • Tool Proficiency: Familiarize students with essential cybersecurity tools and technologies. Ensure they understand how to use firewalls, intrusion detection systems, vulnerability scanners, and other security software effectively.
  • Critical Thinking and Decision-Making: Train students to think critically and make informed decisions under pressure as quick and effective decision-making can be crucial to mitigating threats.
  • Risk Assessment and Management: Teach students how to conduct risk assessments and prioritize security measures based on the level of risk. This includes identifying vulnerabilities, assessing their potential impact, and developing mitigation strategies.
  • Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing: Encourage students to explore ethical hacking and penetration testing. These activities involve actively trying to identify vulnerabilities in systems, applications, or networks, providing practical experience in assessing security.
  • Incident Response Training: Help students understand the incident response process. Simulate security incidents and guide them through the steps of detection, analysis, containment, eradication, and recovery.
  • Secure Coding Practices: If applicable, emphasize secure coding practices. Developers with cybersecurity knowledge can write more secure code, reducing vulnerabilities in software applications.
  • Continuous Learning: Instil a culture of continuous learning in students. The cybersecurity landscape evolves rapidly, so staying up-to-date with the latest threats, technologies, and best practices is essential.
  • Soft Skills: Highlight the importance of soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and presentation skills. Effective communication is vital when explaining complex security issues to non-technical stakeholders.
  • Certifications and Industry Standards: Encourage students to pursue relevant certifications like CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Certified Ethical Hacker, etc.
  • Real-World Scenarios: Use real-world examples and case studies to illustrate the practical application of cybersecurity principles. Share stories of cybersecurity incidents and how they were mitigated.
  • Collaborative Learning: Foster a collaborative learning environment where students can share their experiences and learn from each other. Group projects and discussions can enhance practical understanding.
  • Mentorship and Internships: Encourage students to seek mentorship opportunities and internships in the cybersecurity field. Learning from experienced professionals can provide valuable practical insights.

By focusing on these principles and best practices, cybersecurity trainers can help students develop the skills and mindset needed to bridge the gap between theory and practice effectively in this ever-evolving field.

Hackers Interview Media: Building relationships and collaboration are crucial in cyber security. What strategies have you employed to effectively communicate security priorities and cultivate a culture of security awareness within organizations?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : Employees’ understanding of and attitude toward securing the data and computer systems of their company is known as security awareness. It is crucial for stopping cyberattacks, data breaches, and compliance infractions that could damage the company’s reputation and performance. But many businesses find it difficult to instil a culture of security awareness among their employees, particularly when those employees work remotely or with personal devices.

  • Evaluate your present level of awareness: The first step in raising security awareness is to assess the gaps and hazards that need to be closed in your current situation.
  • The second stage in raising security awareness is to give your employees frequent training and instruction that is tailored to their individual positions and responsibilities.
  • Reward good behaviour and constructive criticism: The third stage in raising security awareness is to reward good behaviour and constructive criticism among your employees.
  • Including leadership and organization stakeholders and making them role models and champions of security culture is the fourth stage in raising security awareness.
  • Implementing and enforcing rules and controls that outline and govern the security standards and expectations inside your business is the fifth step in raising security awareness.
  • Measuring the performance of your awareness program and its effects on your company is the sixth step in raising security awareness.

Hackers Interview Media: As a respected author in the field, what inspired you to share your knowledge and insights through your publications, and how do you believe these resources benefit both students and industry professionals?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : Authors in various fields are often motivated by a combination of factors when sharing their knowledge and insights through publications:

  • Passion for the Subject
  • Desire for Impact
  • Academic and Professional Recognition
  • Educational Purposes
  • Industry Advancement
  • Personal Fulfilment

The benefits of these publications are significant for both students and industry professionals such as but not limited to: Knowledge Transfer, Skill Development, Problem Solving, Networking and Collaboration, Career Advancement, Innovation and Progress.

Hackers Interview Media: Can you highlight emerging cyber security trends or challenges that CISOs and leaders should be prepared to address in the coming years, and how they can navigate these evolving landscapes?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : Due to the widespread use of computerized systems in industry, organizations, and even governments due to the Digital Revolution, cybersecurity has become a top priority to protect data from various online assaults or any unwanted access.

  • Growing Trend in Automotive Hacking: The usage of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi by current automobiles for communication exposes them to a number of security flaws and hacker risks.
  • AI’s potential: Building automated security systems, natural language processing, facial detection, and automatic threat detection all rely heavily on AI. Threat detection systems with AI capabilities can anticipate new assaults and immediately alert administrators to any data breach.
  • Mobile is the New Target: All of our personal information, including our emails, texts, financial transactions, and images, poses a greater risk to us as people.
  • Cloud is also potentially vulnerable: Although cloud applications still have strong security measures in place, user mistake, malicious software, and phishing attempts often originate at the user end.
  • Data Breach: Data is the new OIL. Any minuscule glitch or error in the system creates a potential opening for hackers to access user data.
  • IoT with 5G network: The connectivity between numerous devices creates openings for outside interference, assaults, or an unidentified software issue. 
  • Automation and Integration: With today’s frantic work demands, experts and engineers are under more pressure than ever to provide rapid and effective solutions.
  • Targeted ransomware: Industries in industrialized countries rely substantially on particular software to carry out their regular operations.
  • State-Sponsored Cyber Warfare: Even if there have been few attacks, the friction between the western and eastern worlds frequently makes international headlines and has a big impact on events like elections.
  • Insider Threats: Human error continues to be one of the main causes of data breaches. Millions of stolen data can bring down a whole corporation on any bad day or purposeful loophole.
  • Cybersecurity for Remote employees: Because they frequently use less secure networks and devices, remote employees may be more susceptible to cyberattacks. 
  • Social engineering attacks: Businesses need to make sure that their employees are taught to spot unusual conduct and report it, as well as that there are safeguards in place to guard against these kinds of attacks

Hackers Interview Media: Lastly, what motivates and sustains your passion for cyber security and compliance work, and what words of encouragement or inspiration would you offer to those pursuing a career in this ever-evolving and critical field?

Rakhi R Wadhwani : At one stage, the pursuit of material wealth was definitely a big motivation factor. So, what really motivates me is the challenge of solving technical and people problems, and learning constantly.

I would suggest, to get involved in the security community. This is a good way to network with other professionals, a great way to learn and a good way to help others. Joining local security community has opened up so many opportunities as well as opportunities to give back to the community.

Author: Hackers Interview

Spreading the Voice of Hackers.

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