Ask Beatriz Rodriguez about anything to do with cybersecurity and she beams with excitement.
Rodriguez, a junior studying cybersecurity in the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences at Augusta University, has always had a great passion for the field. She studied cybersecurity all four years of high school and has always dreamt of pursuing cybersecurity as a career.
Rodriguez started her cybersecurity education at Georgia Military College but made the transfer to Augusta University in 2020. She said there are a lot of cyber opportunities available to students at Augusta University, namely pursuing research, which attracted her to transferring.
“There’s so much you can do in cybersecurity,” Rodriguez said. “You can go to a programming side, an intelligence side. Most of my professors have four to five things they’ve done before coming to Augusta University. It’s been so cool to see the different fields you can go into.”
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the theme this year is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” The 2021 theme is meant to empower individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace.
Rodriguez has a couple of pieces of advice to help others be cyber smart this month and beyond:
- Something seemingly common sense: Don’t forget to log out of your computer. Working with students as a teaching assistant, she’s seen students not log out, leaving them vulnerable to hacks.
- When it comes to passwords, never reuse them. It’s best to use a unique combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
- Two-factor authentication is great for an extra layer of security.
Back in 2004, the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched Cybersecurity Awareness Month in an effort to help all Americans become more secure online.
Due to the significant gender gap in STEM professions, Rodriguez is proud to be a woman in cybersecurity.
“It means a lot to me. Growing up, I had parents that didn’t really believe that women should pursue STEM professions,” said Rodriguez. “Even now in my major-specific courses, it’s a 5:1 ratio of men to women.”
Rodriguez is working as a research assistant on a data forensics project with Dr. Gokila Dorai, an assistant professor in the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences and fellow woman in STEM. Working on this project with Dorai has solidified that this is the field Rodriguez loves.
Outside of her busy school schedule, in the rare opportunity she has free time, you can find Rodriguez biking and exploring new areas around town.
After graduation, Rodriguez hopes to become an intelligence analyst. It’s always been a fascinating field to her, and goes hand in hand with the data forensics research she’s pursuing.
“I just want to make a difference,” said Rodriguez.