If you aspire to a career in cybersecurity, study more than just computer science, a panel of Facebook software engineers told students as part of the computer science department’s annual Executive/Engineer Speaker Series.
“Our industry needs to be reflective of the diversity of people we aim to protect,” said Stephanie Siteman, cybersecurity programs and operations manager at Facebook. “We believe we all have to work on creating an environment that is open and welcoming to different people, with different backgrounds, and different thoughts.”
The panel, Preparing for a Career in Cybersecurity, gave students an inside look at what it’s like to protect data for the world’s largest social network. Along with Siteman, four other Facebook executives participated in the panel: software engineer Jake Cordero, security engineers Mark Ignacio and Skyler Rojas and project manager Tiffany Benjamin.
“If you’re interested in cybersecurity, figure out where your passions lie—whether its web security, cryptography–and focus on getting as much technical expertise and training in that field as possible,” Rojas said.
Panelists, responding to student questions, noted that the toughest challenge in cybersecurity – new vulnerabilities and threats emerging every day – is also what keeps the field interesting because it requires learning new technologies all the time.
“This was an eye-opening experience for our students,” said Dr. Xiang Fu, PhD, associate professor of computer science, who organized the event. “The Facebook cybersecurity professionals shared their experiences in mitigating threats from many fields of computing, ranging from malware analysis to static code review. Their suggestions for our students to start their careers in cybersecurity were invaluable.”
More than 100 students attended the panel discussion.
“It was a wonderful experience to see the minds behind one of the largest social media websites of our generation,” said computer science student Hugo Renzzo Olcese ’20. “I really appreciated learning about their careers and it definitely sparked my interest in an industry that requires more attention.”
In an effort to provide more educational opportunities to students interested in cybersecurity, Facebook has partnered with CodePath.org, a coding academy that offers courses in iOS and Android development and design, to create a free, 12-week cybersecurity training course which is currently being offered by the cybersecurity interest group of Hofstra’s student-run Computer Science Society.