Women in Security: Thinking before we click: the unseen face of online security


IMG_6217-78by Kema Rajandran

When Karen Stones left school at the young age of fifteen, she never imagined she would be receiving the award for Information Security Professional of the Year from the Australian Information Security Association (AISA).

Last October, Ms Stones became the first female AISA member to win the award. Voted by her peers, the award reflects Ms Stones’ significant contributions, achievements and initiatives to the security sector.

“I was very surprised [to win]to be honest, especially given the quality of all the nominees. However I do feel honoured to be considered worthy of the award and particularly in light of the actual fact that I’m a strong advocate of workplace diversity, including gender equality,” she said.

Upon completing her GCSE’s in the United Kingdom, Ms Stones left school without advanced qualifications for economic reasons; the appeal of working in a bank was originally for the benefit of job security for her.

“I started life as a teller in a mutual society in the UK and progressed from there. Once I became involved in information security there were significant opportunities to progress within the banking area – the work being diverse and a constant challenge.”

Tasked with managing a talented high performance team at Bankwest in her most recent role, her team supported the delivery of security in all business change, including projects of all sizes.

Ms Stones was responsible for managing a large portfolio of up to 70 concurrent projects at Bankwest and then went on secondment to Commonwealth Bank with a mandate to review, revise and implement the Group information security policies and framework.

With a stellar 27-year career and still going strong, Ms Stones is as passionate about Information Security as she was from those early days.

“Information security is a passion for me. When I first started out in my career in banking, a large proportion of my role was investigating staff fraud.”

“I played a huge role in reporting on, and disciplining many of my colleagues until one day I realised that there was actually more I could do to help my colleagues do the right thing through policy and compliance and basic security awareness.”

It was undergoing research at this stage in her life about information security – combined with a great manager – that lead Ms Stones into her self-confessed addiction for information security … To be continued

For more of this article look out for the next edition of Australian Security Magazine!