” Enlisting more girls in the fight against online hackers ”

Esther van Luit,
Manager Cyber Risk Services.

As a Cyber Risk Services Manager, Esther van Luit offers a diverse range of companies advice as to how to keep their digital environments secure. She also actively supports the position of women in IT, for example by speaking at high schools.

These days businesses have identified data security as a priority. Their data needs to be protected against hackers and other cybercrime, and Deloitte contributes in several ways. Usually, we start with a risk analysis. We identify the greatest risks to security and pinpoint areas where immediate action should be taken. This involves examining the different kinds of data to see what information hackers find most interesting. Another thing we do is to investigate which company processes are crucial and may never be offline. Those are the areas we build the strongest security solutions for.

Three company data priorities play a key role in our decision making process: confidentiality, integrity and availability. In other words, how do we avoid a data leak? Who should be allowed to edit the data? And how do we make sure crucial processes are never offline? In my role I get around – from collecting information at a client’s one day, to spending a day at The Edge, our Amsterdam offices, the next. At the office I process the collected data and discuss options with my Deloitte colleagues. I love the variety the job provides.

Often hackers are one step ahead of cyber security efforts. You can’t always be sure where they operate from, which makes it harder to catch them. And cybercrime lawsuits are still quite rare, because the international justice system has not yet caught up with today's reality. The risk of a company getting hacked cannot be eliminated entirely, so it should never be underestimated. As such, protecting your data with the most advanced security solutions available is a wise move for any business. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I have a real impact on those risks.

When a woman chooses a career in IT or a STEM field because of my story I feel that I’m fulfilling my purpose.

If you’re an IT expert like me, you’ve probably noticed there’s only a small percentage of women working in IT. Research has shown that, compared to other countries, people in the Netherlands have very stereotype ideas about the kind of work men or women should do. While globally 11% of all IT professionals are women, the percentage is far lower in the Netherlands, which I think is a real shame. It doesn’t have to be that way. One of the reasons I can think of is that Dutch high school students have to choose a specific area of study to specialize in at an early age. Not a lot of young women choose science, technology, engineering and math, and therefore they’re less likely to end up in IT.

Fortunately, several organizations are trying to bring about change. One of these is VHTO, the Dutch National Expert Organization for Girls/Women and Science/Technology. Their purpose is to increase the participation of girls and women in science, technology and IT. In cooperation with VHTO, I visit high schools to discuss this topic.

At Deloitte, we have developed initiatives of our own in this area. A while back, we launched the Hacklab High School, to introduce boys and girls to the fascinating world of computer hacking. I noticed, though, that few girls took part, so we decided to organize a special Hacklab Girls day, in which we still discuss hacking, but in a way that appeals to girls. Women leaders in IT speak about the exciting aspects of the field and the opportunities it offers girls. The girls learn something about technology, and we even challenge them to think like a hacker, so they can figure out for themselves what the dangers are.

Deloitte supports my efforts in this project. We’re killing two birds with one stone here: I’m enabled to make an impact on a cause that’s close to my heart, and the more women I can get interested in IT, the better it is for Deloitte There’s a huge demand for IT talent, after all.

Thanks to my passion, and the opportunity I’ve been given to do something with it, I was presented with the Techionista Award (public award 2018). The award highlights women's contributions to Tech/IT. When a woman chooses a career in IT or a STEM field because of my story, and then ends up working for Deloitte later on, I feel that I’m fulfilling my purpose.'

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