In Depth: Infosec Institute Helps Iraqi’s Stay Safe Online

I recently had the chance to interview Megan Sawle of Infosec Institute who is working with the US Embassy and an organization called IREX in Iraq to help Iraqi civilians stay safer online. Infosec’s is providing cybersecurity training  to several hundred professionals simultaneously translated into Arabic and Kurdish) across Iraq. This is a unique story that got my attention because Iraq usually makes the news for all the wrong reasons. Thus this is a good news story that I feel should be told far and wide.

Ms. Sawle talked to be about the fact that this effort started out with a presentation of 10 tips that Iraqi’s could use to stay safe online. I had a look at the presentation and it is the same sorts of topics that I speak to my clients about. And the fact that it has a cat theme is a nice touch. Then it broadened out a broader discussion about topics like what if I do if I get phished, what do I do if I get infected with ransomware, how do Iraqi women and girls avoid cyberbullying, and even how to keep Bitcoin safe. It should be noted that Ms. Sawle observed that these questions are the same types of questions that she gets from friends and family. Which means that there’s not a whole lot of difference in what Iraqi’s are concerned about and what people in the west are concerned about when it comes to cybersecurity. On top of that, there was an additional presenfiaotn on cyber security careers. And all of this was done in October which is Cybersecurity month.

In my discussion with Ms. Sawle, careers in cybersecurity, she notes that Iraqi’s are some of the most educated people in the world. But questions about how to break into this field, resources for training, and how to identify a mentor came up. Again this isn’t that much different than what one would hear from people in the west. Also, given that there are a ton of of roles open in cybersecurity at the moment, it would be in the best interests of this industry to bring these people into roles. That’s because there has to be broad representation in cybersecurity so that it mirrors the representation that’s present on the threat actor side of the fence.

This is a really cool effort, and I applaud Infosec Institute for taking this on. Every person that in educated in protecting themselves and others online makes us all safer. And if people from Iraq can join the cybersecurity industry in.a friction free way, that is even better. In the age of news of constant hacks and Facebook, this is the sort of good news story that I can get behind.

Well done!

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