On the first episode of 2021 for the Zero Hour Podcast, we had a fun chat with Taz Khan, cybersecurity specialist, and host of her online show Security, Privacy & a Whole Lot of Other Bullsh*t. Taz is the CEO and founder of Cyber Collective, the first women of color, immigrant-owned, community-centered cybersecurity and privacy research firm. We delved deep into the rising consciousness among consumers around data privacy issues, and the parallels between her advisory work with corporate clients, and her take on representation in the cybersecurity space.
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The Rise of Consumer Awareness on Data Privacy Issues
“I think there's this nature in the community that exists now of wanting to fight for something. People are ready to get involved and fight for something, which is data privacy.”
Tackling Data Privacy and Security Issues
Taz has had a storied journey towards cybersecurity, with over a decade of experience under her belt. Besides consulting for Fortune 500 enterprise clients, her IGTV show @TechWithTaz has become very popular.
On her show, Taz talks about cybersecurity, consumers’ lack of data ownership, and data privacy issues. “Through the process of trying to share with my peers the importance of security, I saw the very large gaps of knowledge, just constant stereotypes that they have about security and whatnot. Not realizing their role in maintaining a healthy digital ecosystem,” said Taz. Her efforts are focused on educating the public about these complex topics and making them more digestible:
“It's taking the cybersecurity information that I'm probably talking about with different companies and relaying it in an authentic and palatable way for a broader audience.”
Taz’s IGTV show is insightful and hilariously engaging, and aims to connect with her audience and induce social and individual behavioral change. On her website, she calls this “an irreverent approach to help millennials understand the importance and need for dialogue around cybersecurity and privacy.”
When asked about her work and personal projects intertwining, Taz said both are overarching and connected in certain ways. “There is some synergy at that level. The biggest difference is the fact that my show is specifically consumer-oriented and I'm talking straight to people,” Taz explained.
One challenge that she has encountered on the show is delving into more complex topics pertaining to data privacy and cybersecurity. “There were so many questions that were posed to me that I didn't have answers to.”
“I didn't know how to take enterprise security and turn it into individual security. It's still not something that people, even in our industry, care that much about. I think we feel a responsibility to secure environments at large organizations that help the entire ecosystem.”
When it comes to the general public’s awareness of data privacy and security issues, Taz is confident that this is constantly growing and improving. “I think all of our work is becoming very mainstream. Especially with COVID remote working, people are understanding the value of the internet and connectivity,” said Taz. “The element of bringing in and tying in pop culture, I think it is resonating with a lot of people and it's provocative.”
The parallels between her advisory work with corporate clients and her online audience can be recognized immediately. “I get to learn so much at the enterprise level and then relay that information to consumers and make it accessible.”
“I think there's this nature in the online community that exists now of wanting to fight for something. People are ready to get involved and fight for something, which is data privacy. Folks are definitely getting energized about it.”
Educating Enterprises and Consumers on Data Privacy Issues
“I think having security professionals and privacy professionals speak about these topics in simple language will help mitigate a lot of these headlines that are often fear-mongering today.”
As for data privacy issues swirling around the Big Four, Taz remains passionate about bringing cybersecurity issues to the forefront and making sure her audience understands how data can be exploited by these big tech companies. “The platforms were created for people to connect, and there are inherently good elements around it. I think having security professionals and privacy professionals speak about these topics in simple language will help mitigate a lot of these headlines that are often fear-mongering today.”
Taz advocates creating community solutions and understanding all of the elements involved in data security and privacy instead of simply saying we should get rid of big technology. “As much as people want to say 'abolish this and that’, that type of absolutist advocacy, in my opinion, it helps to drive change and perhaps speed change, in a way. But these things aren't going anywhere. So we have to be educated and informed and also energized to be involved in the process,” she declared.
Diversity in Cybersecurity
“It's tough. As long as you can do it through empathy and have a conversation about it, that’s good. People just have to take individual ownership of their ability to be an agent of change.”
When asked about representation in the cybersecurity space, Taz believes that this is still lacking despite the attention it has in the past few years. Taz says there has to be a split of this digital real estate for all voices to shine and to be available:
“Our webinars are still all white males. For me, I definitely don't want to attend a webinar that doesn't include any females or people of color. It's 2021. If you can't figure it out, then you're probably not trying, in my opinion,” she said.
“The people just need to work a little harder, go maybe two degrees further to find someone else and ask the questions and then actually get them involved. It's tough. As long as you can do it through empathy and have a conversation about it, that’s good. People just have to take individual ownership of their ability to be an agent of change.”
As for Cyber Collective, Taz says they have evolved substantially since their early days. “The amount of women of color, black women, black men, and collaboration between groups and people and organizations that I'm seeing is unmatched to anything that I've seen before,” she pointed out.
You can listen to the podcast episode here, and is also available on Stitcher, Apple, and Spotify. The Zero Hour Podcast is the intersection of information security and business innovation. Learn from industry experts in cybersecurity, marketing, and business management. We talk about the challenges and opportunities that come with new technology.
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