Siraj named 2020 Cybersecurity Person of the Year

COOKEVILLE — Ambareen Siraj continues to be recognized for her efforts in cybersecurity. The Tennessee Tech computer science professor has been named the 2020 Cybersecurity Person of the Year by Cybersecurity Ventures.

Siraj is the founding director of Tech’s Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center. She is also founder of WiCyS (Women In Cybersecurity), the only non-profit membership organization with international reach that is dedicated to bringing together women in cybersecurity from academia, research and industry to share knowledge, experience, networking and mentoring.

“WiCyS was established in 2012 and it has blossomed into one of the most important organizations in our industry due in large part to Dr. Siraj’s guidance and spirit,” said Steve Morgan, founder of Cybersecurity Ventures and editor-in-chief at Cybercrime Magazine, in a press release. “Dr. Siraj is selfless and never wants to take credit for anything, but she deserves to be recognized for giving us WiCyS.”

Even though the annual WiCyS conference, which Siraj founded, was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sira forged ahead with a successful virtual conference. 

In October of 2020, Siraj was recognized for being an advocate for diversity and inclusion, being named the recipient of the Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

Earlier in 2020, Siraj spent two days speaking at the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Saudi Arabia before testifying to the Subcommittee on Research and Technology, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in Washington, D.C. She is also a member of the Tennessee Cybersecurity Advisory Council Workforce Development working group.

Since joining Tech’s College of Engineering in 2006, Siraj has taught various undergraduate and graduate security classes, specializing in cyber-physical systems security, network security, security education and workforce development. She has received three external grants totaling $7.6 million since 2012 and been recognized for her work, most recently in 2018, earning the CISSE Exceptional Leadership in Education Award. 

In 2018, Cybersecurity Ventures named Sylvia Acevedo, Girl Scouts of the USA CEO, its first Cybersecurity Person of the Year. In 2019, Craig Newmark, billionaire philanthropist and founder of Craigslist, received the award.

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