Saltanat Mashirova: I want to raise the level of cybersecurity in Kazakhstan to the international level

Advanced Cyber Security Architect, Honeywell Cyber Security Engineer, CISSP | GISP | CISM | CISA

Experience in IT: 16 years

Background: How did you get into IT?

At the end of the 11th grade, I scored high marks on the UNT. Then the most relevant and interesting specialty was “Telecommunications”. I received a grant at KazNTU for the specialty “Radio Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications”. After graduating with honors and working in my specialty, I realized that I was more interested in information technology. Feeling a lack of knowledge in this area, I entered the Master's program at the University of California under the Bolashak program. After graduation, I continued to work in IT.

I worked as an IT manager in a company that did not have an information security service. Therefore, I was involved in ensuring information security, updating internal policies and procedures, ensuring that the IT architecture complies with security requirements and other information security tasks. At that time, I worked at least 12 hours a day, because I did not know where IT ends and information security begins. Then, by decision of the board of directors, a vacancy was created for the role of an employee providing information security. The CEO, who knew that I did most of the security work, suggested to the board that I be appointed to the information security position. Since then, my path in the field of cybersecurity began.

What achievement are you proud of?

I love being a mentor. One of my achievements, I believe, is that many of my mentis showed good results, for example, one student from the village entered the best university without financial support, other mentis moved up the career ladder, received international certificates, improved their skills and knowledge in areas of cybersecurity. My other achievements are, of course, my international information security certificates CISSP, CISM, CISA, GICSP, TOGAF, etc. Many of my professional colleagues in Kazakhstan saw my certificates and achievements and wrote that I would be a motivator for many people, like women as well as men. I also speak at various cybersecurity industry conferences around the world: Siberx Advisory Board (Canada), 1st Global Cybersecurity Observatory (worldwide), President of ISACA Nur-Sultan, IQanat Mentor, CISSP Mentor (USA), IFSEC Jury Member Global 2022. - IFSEC Global - Security and fire safety news (it can be called an Oscar in the field of information security), Global Cyber ​​Security Mentor 2022 (GMFC) program mentor, I lead a graduation project at Astana IT University, I created a community in Kazakhstan under called Women in Cyber ​​KZ, I want to raise the profile of this community internationally. I am also a trainer for various workshops.

How do you rate the IT industry in Kazakhstan?

In recent years, the IT sector in Kazakhstan has been rapidly developing due to various digitalization programs. But many people forget about the need to develop cybersecurity with the development of the IT industry. Cybersecurity in Kazakhstan is still at an early stage. Here I would like to note that the most important thing in this area is qualified personnel, i.e. human capital.

About girls in IT

There are many women in IT today, but there are few of them in the field of information and cybersecurity. When I started counting girls in this area, I only counted 66 girls. Globally, only 24% of women work in the field of cybersecurity, and in the field in which I work at OT Cyber ​​Security, only 10% of women.

About discrimination

I have never experienced discrimination in the IT industry. But I would note that the female path in IT is more difficult. I am a mother of two children and from my own experience I can say that it is very difficult to balance between family and work. It depends mainly on the cultural characteristics of the country, the nation, in our culture the main values ​​for a woman are a child, a husband and housework. In other words, limiting career growth for women can become an internal psychological barrier, which should be, first of all, the guardian of the family and take care of children. This, of course, also affected me. But I can say with confidence that if you have a goal and motivation, you can achieve high results, while remaining a woman, mother, partner.

About plans

Organize more free meetings, seminars, webinars to improve the level of qualified cybersecurity personnel in Kazakhstan. Do not stop there and improve your professional level.

The hardest part of the job

The field of cybersecurity is constantly changing and evolving. It is a sustainable development to keep up with new trends, different technologies and trends.

Technology is evolving very fast, and so are threats. Hackers are smart, they are always one step ahead. That is why it is difficult to keep up with the times and constantly prevent risks.

The most enjoyable part of the job

I am always learning new things. I like the research and teaching process. Also, cybersecurity is a field where very smart people work, and there are very complex and difficult issues in cybersecurity. I like to solve them.

Advice for young people

Do not stop learning and independently seek new knowledge.

What is your biggest dream?

I want to increase the level of cyber security of Kazakhstanis at the international level.

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