24 June 2015
At YWCA Canberra, we love our volunteers. These wonderful people give up their time and donate their skills and knowledge to help us to what we do better.
Shanna Daly is an IT and Information Security specialist who has been volunteering her expertise to help us make sure our IT systems are secure. Check out our interview with Shanna below to find out more about her career pathway, the IT industry and what’s she’s been getting up to as a volunteer.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m a bit of a nerd, I think. I’ve been working in IT/Information Security since 2001, and currently work doing digital forensics and incident response (DFIR) … kind of like CSI: Cyber Stuff, tracking bad guys through computer networks.
What drew you to working in the IT industry? And how did you get your start?
When I was a kid I got a Commodore 64 for my birthday one year, and I used to go through the back of the manual and do the Basic programming and think, “I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up”. Then I got a Macintosh SE and started playing games on it, and really the interest continued to grow until my late teens, when the internet started to take off in 95/96. My best friend had a PC and a modem and we’d spend hours and hours chatting on IRC with random people from all over the world.
I got my start through a friend at university (that I was failing dismally due to too many late nights on IRC), who referred me for a job doing tech support for an ISP. From there I got a job in Information Security working in a data centre, and then I started on my current career path.
What’s the most interesting/exciting thing you’ve gotten to do as part of your job?
Definitely the most interesting and exciting part of my job has been working in digital forensics and incident response. Getting to track hackers and see how they move through networks, and work to try and piece together who they were, what they took and if they are coming back. I’ve been able to work on some pretty high profile cases over the years and across the globe. Many times, my friends thought I was a spy.
Do you think the IT industry is male-dominated? Do you think it presents a challenge to women wanting to work in the industry?
The IT industry is definitely male dominated, and in a lot of ways I think that is what drew me to the industry. From where I stand, working in a female dominated industry scares me, as generally men can be a lot more upfront than women.
But on the flipside, there is a lot about working in a male dominated industry that is very off putting, and could be very confronting for some women. There is still a strong culture of “men’s club”, particularly at the higher levels and I’ve definitely come across that quite a bit during my career.
I think that it’s changing as Gen X and Y are working up the ranks. Most of the younger guys I work with love and encourage females to join our industry. Not only is the number of women to men small in IT, its even smaller in DFIR! The good thing is that I have had a lot of encouragement and support from male colleagues that want to make sure that women realise that these careers are an option, and it’s not all bad.
What drew you to volunteering at YWCA Canberra?
My good friend Jo [is Director of Corporate Relations and Communication at YWCA Canberra]. I really admire and aspire to her work and dedication and wanted to give back in some way, and that way is through my work knowledge and experience.
What will you be doing as volunteer?
Helping and advising YWCA on computer network and security challenges and architecture. Trying to ensure that any projects include security, and that gaps are closed before the wrong people find them. I can use my experience of find the bad guys to keep the bad guys out!
What are some things you like doing outside of work?
I have a horse, a partner and three dogs, so they all take up a lot of my time outside of work! I also find time to play the PS4, especially on rainy days.