Marcela Denniston, CISSP. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

Illuminating The Darkness Of Cybersecurity: Shining A Light On Women

Marcela Denniston, CISSP, co-founder of Cyber Lantern Listen to the podcast

 – Hillarie McClure, Multimedia Director

Portland, Maine – July 21, 2020

A first-generation Brazilian American, Marcela Denniston has traveled the world fighting cybercrime and other injustices — and she has the battle scars to prove it!

After witnessing first-hand the attacks of 9/11, she enlisted in the Navy at 17 and was immediately thrust into a cyber operations unit, at a time when Titan Rain was unleashing coordinated assaults on multiple U.S. government organizations, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, NASA, and the FBI.

As an NSA cyber analyst, Denniston worked closely with Edward Snowden’s supervisor, amongst others with Top Secret clearances. A good soldier, she won’t say more than Hollywood has sensationalized the work being done at the agency.

Cybercrime Radio: Marcela Denniston, CISSP, co-founder of Cyber Lantern

Global cybersecurity expert shares her story

Following her service to the U.S. government, Denniston went to Abu Dhabi, helping the UAE government to develop its national cybersecurity infrastructure. While the work was cutting edge, it was also as if she’d gone back in time. Does a woman really need a letter of permission from her husband for a driver’s license?

Despite the oppression in a foreign country, Denniston sought ways to make an impact. She found mentorship opportunities to help inspire her female team members in Abu Dhabi to become more confident and find their voices.

Arriving back in the States, she continued the momentum by becoming a member of the Latino Startup Alliance and starting up two LinkedIn groups — Latinos In Cyber Security and The Women of Cyber Security.

Turns out the Silicon Valley workforce was stuck in the dark ages as well, as far as Denniston was concerned. “I thought living in the Middle East would be the harshest environment as a woman, and when I got here to the Valley, I found it to be much more merciless.”

A male vice president once asked Denniston, “What are you going to write, a blog about Maybelline?” Clearly, he knew nothing about how far makeup technology had come in the 21st century — perhaps he really did need an education!

As a hiring manager, Denniston saw that brilliant, qualified women in cyber were being offered less and asking for less. One woman wasn’t selected for a position because it was perceived that as a mother, she couldn’t commit to the required travel time.

Denniston has also volunteered as a panel speaker with IGNITE Worldwide, traveling to schools and talking with underprivileged girls about her journey and encouraging them to pursue STEM fields. In 2019, the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu recognized Denniston as a cyber advocate.

A city on a hill in the cybersecurity industry, today Denniston is the co-founder of Cyber Lantern, provider of an automated cyber defense system for small and mid-sized businesses.

Listen to hear her full story.

 – Hillarie McClure is Multimedia Director at Cybercrime Magazine