Making a living is great. Making a difference is even better.
Since I took my first job as an Antivirus Engineer more than twenty years ago, I’ve always based my career choices on finding opportunities with both meaning and challenge. And the cyber security industry has given me plenty of both, even though I’ve never looked like the typical infosec professional. My career has taken me around the world as I’ve done my best to make the world, or at least the digital world, a safer place.
That first position in fighting malware, right after graduating the University of the Philippines, taught me that my hard work is likely to be rewarded with greater and greater responsibilities. When web 2.0 exploded, I realized that various network protocols and especially the web will become a major infection vector in the future and focused on threats in that area. That led me to positions with leading security companies in Asia and Australia. But my career advanced to a new level when I returned to my roots as a malware analyst at F-Secure Malaysia.
The company recognized the need to focus on online protection to tackle web-based threats. So, I stepped up to help design the systems that fuel the company’s network reputation services to this day. In 2011, I moved to Helsinki to work at F-Secure’s global headquarters. Within a few years, I left web reputation to take a position as a senior manager in the Labs and later on as a director of a research and development team, charged with improving the company’s consumer solutions. Leading a team of experts, I had to step back and focus more on coaching the individuals and bridging relationships with other teams. From there, I became vice president of the Tactical Defense Unit in 2019, focusing on simplifying burdensome processes. Our team grew to 40 members and racked up successes, including AV-TEST’s Best Protection and Best Performance awards.
Then came the opportunity of a lifetime. In late 2021, F-Secure announced it was looking for a new Chief Technology Officer. The position gave me the chance to apply all my expertise at one of the highest possible levels in cyber security. That experience process for innovation via co-creation in a company on the bleeding edge of cyber security enabled me to build and work with a team of world-class experts looking at the intersection of threats, technology and market adoption 3-6 years into the future.
Today, as the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at WithSecure (after F-Secure’s demerger WithSecure focuses on corporate security), I secure a company that helps secure top financial institutions and businesses around the globe against cyber attacks. This forces me to practice all the advice I’ve been preaching for years. And I get the chance to make the case that cyber security can improve and enable your business in conferences, talks, and interviews all over the world.
It’s the kind of challenge I once dreamed I’d find. And it’s available to anyone who works hard, challenges themselves, and opens themselves to opportunities that come. No matter what you look like.
Christine Bejerasco was voted as the Women4Cyber Finland's Role Model of 2023 in October.
Picture: Christine Bejerasco/WithSecure Oyj