Delivering the AWSN Incident Response Competition

We recently partnered with the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre (A3C) and the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) to provide the first ever competition-style incident response cyber exercise for women. We had 20 teams (5 per team) participating, resulting in nearly 100 women in total! We feel honoured and privileged to have delivered this event.

After opening registrations, we saw a quick influx of signups with the competition already fully subscribed just a few days later. Different to other competitions, we intentionally included many disciplines needed for effective incident response. The four categories tested under the competition were forensics, communications, legal and privacy, and briefing leadership. We saw registered teams consisted of women with diverse cyber backgrounds, skillsets, and experience. From our observations, the best incident response outcomes are achieved when people from different areas work together to produce a unified response.

"We need diverse people to bring their different skills to face the threats. That’s why we focus not just on technical skills, but also the socio-technical skills. For example, working with the media team, talking to senior executives, or thinking about the regulatory and compliance aspects of an incident. We need a rich and diverse skillset of people to tackle the challenges of information and cybersecurity. We need them today and we’ll need more of them well into the future." 

Ryan Janosevic, Co-founder and COO of Retrospect Labs 

The judges for the competition were all people whom are experts in their field. Mike Barber (CEO of the A3C) evaluated the teams' ability to produce an effective executive briefing, Vanessa Wong (GRC guru at Saab Australia) looked at what legal and compliance considerations each team made, Bex Nibert (Manager, DFIR, Paraflare) examined the teams' forensic skills, and David Goodman (South Australian Government) assess teams on the effectiveness of their media statements. Massive thank you to our judges who gave their time and expertise in supporting our competition as well as special guest, Kim Valois (CISO at Flinders University), for the inspirational talk she delivered at the closing ceremony.

Kim Valois delivering her inspirational talk at the closing ceremony

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the competition and well done to Team "Wrong Email!" for taking out first place and bragging rights! The feedback we received was amazing. We are thrilled that teams enjoyed themselves and that we provided something different and interesting that many haven't encountered before in previous competitions.

"It was so much fun. I just want to thank Retrospect Labs on such a well rounded Incident response exercise. It really provided opportunity for all different cyber security related talents to shine and gave a bigger picture to the incident that sometimes is not visible."

Competition participant

Incident response is complex. Our adversaries that we battle against can be highly motivated and skilled. A hands-on competition style event like this provided an opportunity to practice how to respond to an incident, and not just from a technical or forensics view point. The need to stay on top and ahead of their tactics is why getting hands-on incident response experience is so important. It gives you the ability to turn theory into practice.

We also know diversity leads to better outcomes, and with new threats challenging organisations here in Australia and around the globe, diversity within this domain is as important as ever. That's why we are excited to encourage more women to get involved in incident response through partnering with organisations like AWSN and the A3C. We can't wait to run another event like this soon!  

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