21-23 Aug 2024
ICC, Sydney

Person of Interest: Jacqui Loustau

Sep 14, 2020

Founder of the Australian Women in Security Network.

Having studied Information Systems at University, Jacqui Loustau thought she would pursue a career in computing. That career saw Jacqui leave Australia in 2001 to pursue an exciting opportunity in London until an unexpected twist of fate caused her to take a sideways step, less than 12 months into her journey.

As Jacqui explains, the company she was working for at the time had decided to shut down the division where she was working. However, as a valued employee, they did not wish to lose her services and so offered her the opportunity to move into a different area of the business. Following a six-week re-training process involving the completion of certifications in both networking and security, Jacqui decided she wanted to pursue a career in cybersecurity.

The next 14 years would see Jacqui working across London and Paris for well-known industry leaders such as Siemens, before returning to Australia in 2014 to take up a senior post as Associate Director, Cybercrime Controls with the ANZ bank.

It was through her role with the ANZ, which involved attending and speaking at numerous industry events, that Jacqui first noticed the distinct lack of women working in the security industry. It was this realisation that led Jacqui to found the ‘Australian Women In Security Network’, an open network of people aiming to grow the number of women in the security community. Their goal is to support, inspire, and act as role models, connecting women in the industry and those looking to enter the field with the tools, knowledge, a network and platforms needed to build confidence and interest.

In her current job, Jacqui provides cybersecurity advice and support to the SME market (small to medium-sized businesses), which she believes are often the most vulnerable.

“The challenge with small to medium-sized businesses”, explains Jacqui “is that they often don’t have access to the same financial, technical and staffing resources as larger organisations. As a result, it can be much more vulnerable to cyber-attack.”

When asked which key technologies are shaping the future of cybersecurity, Jacqui responds quickly without hesitation.

“I believe a combination of automation and artificial intelligence will be instrumental in shaping the future of cyber-security. We are experiencing an exponential increase in the volume and complexity of threats, to the point where no single person can pull together all the dots.  Only with the assistance of AI, combined with the ability to automate a great any tasks will we be able to keep pace with the threats.”

“I also believe that in light of changing conditions around the world, we will see a greater shift back towards to the use of Australian based, people, products and companies in the cybersecurity space. More and more companies are cautious about sending data off-shore, and the potential implications of doing so, and so I think we will see a greater emphasis on Australian solutions over the coming years.”

“Lastly, I think there is a push towards greater convergence. The more we can get products and solutions talking to each other, the more value we can generate. Having a single product that can do a multitude of things just makes more sense both financially and from a practical point of view.”

When asked what she felt the most significant challenges were in the cybersecurity space right now, Jacqui quickly responds, “Supply chain logistics for starters. We see a multitude of small to medium-sized businesses who rely on other SME’s to help deliver their products or services. Too often, our client might be working with first, second or even third order suppliers who do not have the same level of cybersecurity, which can lead to significant problems.”

“Human factors are also a significant source of cybersecurity challenges. You can have the best systems, resources, policies and procedures, but if people accidentally or inadvertently do the wrong things, then you have potential security breaches.”

“I also think that, as an industry, we are starting to understand that we need more outside expertise to complement and enhance what we are doing in the cybersecurity space. We need to bring in experts and insights from the legal profession, from marketing backgrounds, and other related industries so we can learn, improve and grow.”

However, according to Jacqui, perhaps the greatest challenge of all in the cybersecurity space is the pace of evolution. “Young women and men looking to enter the industry today, need to study for, think about and plan for careers involving jobs that don’t yet even exist because the industry in ten years will probably look nothing like what we are experiencing today.”

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