Breaking Barriers: Klára Hanušová’s Inspiring Journey into Cyber Security

When Klára Hanušová moved to Copenhagen eight years ago, little did she know that her path would lead her to a successful career in cyber security. Today, she works as Senior Security Operations & Incident Response Analyst at Unity, and dedicates time to teaching and empowering women who aspire to join the cyber security field. We have had a chat with Klára about her way into cyber and her thoughts around how to attract more women to the field.

The Way Into Cyber

Klára moved from the Czech Republic to Copenhagen in 2015 to study for her Master’s Degree in Digital Innovation and Management at ITU. During one of her courses on Big Data, Klára’s curiosity for cyber security sparked.  

– We learnt how valuable insights could be derived from large public data sets. It was fascinating, however, throughout the course I kept coming back to the same concern; does people know that this information is accessible for everyone?  

Photo Credit to J. Rika Pydde

Klára started to read more into the subject and found inspiration from her professor, who was educated on the data privacy topic. Encouraged by her, Klára applied for a cyber security graduate program at NNIT when she finished her degree – and got in!

Incident Detection & Response

During her graduate program, Klára had the opportunity to explore various areas within cyber security through three rotations.

– I worked with advisory, which focused on security policies and compliance. Then, I worked with application security, which focused more on websites and development, and lastly, I got to work with security incident detection and response.

Klára concluded that her true passion was in the incident detection and response area. For her, the investigation aspect of incident response is particularly appealing.

– You have to do proper detective work. You often get little information to start with, and from that you need to collect more to form a picture of what has happened. It is challenging and very dynamic, and there are always new techniques and things to learn.

More Entry Level Positions

Today, Klára works at Unity as Senior Security Operations & Incident Response Analyst where she actively monitors systems to ensure the absence of unauthorized activities and individuals. Outside of her work, Klára dedicated her time to volunteering. Through ReDI School she teaches introductory courses to cyber security to women who have come to Denmark and seek employment.

– It is really fun and rewarding. It gives a perspective to what the challenges these women are facing. As an EU citizen, it was much easier for me to establish myself on the Danish job market. However, for most of these women from non-EU countries, it can be quite difficult.

Klára emphasizes the importance of creating more entry-level positions to ignite interest and facilitate career transitions into cyber security.

– Graduate programs are great, but in most cases they are limited to recent graduates. For experienced individuals who are interested in making a career shift, it can be challenging to get in.

Lack of female role models

When discussing the scarcity of female representation in cyber security and the broader IT field in general, Klára shares that she believes lack of female role models, limited accessibility, and self-doubt contribute to the underrepresentation of women.

– I think many women struggle with the feeling that this is not for them because they don’t see others like them in the field. Also, there is not a one way gate to enter the industry, which can make it difficult to navigate.

Klára believes that aspiring women in cyber security can benefit greatly from having mentors who can provide guidance and support in determining their focus within the industry.

– Better access and visibility of mentors would help to get more women in. Cyber security consists of so many different areas, and having a mentor helps you discover your niche, whether it is within awareness, malware reverse engineering, or defense. People cannot just know what area in security would fit their aspirations and skills without having insights from people in the industry.

Interest to learn

Reflecting on her journey, Klára shares some advice she would give her younger self:

– I would tell myself to embrace the positive feedback I receive. If people recognize your work and tell you that it’s good, believe them. You are where you are for a reason, and it’s important to not let imposter syndrome hold you back.

– Do you have any advice for aspiring women wanting to pursue a career within cyber security?

– Be kind to yourself, don’t try to know it all but try to learn thoughtfully. Willingness to learn will get you far. That is how I ended up where I am today.