Tapping in the Untapped by Mercedes Vazquez

Tapping into the Untapped podcast by Mercedes Vazquez hosts exceptional guests for a panel discussion on some of the world’s most pressing issues: an integrated approach to cybersecurity and women’s economic security for a thriving economy, pressing needs to successfully navigate complex and uncertain times.

Mercedes Vazquez hosts Christy Watkins and Guillermo Christensen as exceptional guests to have a panel conversation around, some of the, world’s most pressing issues to enable a responsible and thriving future: an integrated security approach to cybersecurity, AI ethics, combating ransomware, inclusion and a level-playing field, on a panel conversation on her podcast Tapping into the Untapped on Spotify.

Christy Watkins is the Public Affairs Counselor of the United States in the State of Kuwait and Guillermo Christensen is a Partner at K&L Gates, cybersecurity & national Security expert and former CIA & FBI official.

An exclusive interview that took place during Guillermo’s visit to Kuwait, as the Tapping into the Untapped initiative aims to build bridges between continents while inspiring and empowering communities to advance, flourish and thrive, therefore security and cybersecurity play an integral component as part of the puzzle of a multi-stakeholder dialogue at a global scale.

“The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait invited Guillermo to join us as a cybersecurity expert but also to share his knowledge and expertise in the Private and Government sector. The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Government for that matter are prioritizing cybersecurity.” As Christy Watkins shared on the podcast.

Christy and Guillermo shared their personal journey and story as well as their motivation to pursue a career in foreign service, as Christy had explained: “Service is key. The U.S. foreign service with the U.S. State Department has been a natural fit for me. For me it has been a great experience being able to push foreign policy but also to learn about how other Governments and how other people think” and Guillermo’s experience pivoting from working for the Government (CIA & FBI), to diplomacy to cybersecurity, to help, inspire and empower younger generations to pursue a career in Diplomacy and Cybersecurity, based on their experience as role models in their respective fields. As Mercedes had said: “Choice creates change and impact, and consciousness is the enabler. Become an active agent of change in your community”

Companies of all sizes and scales, from SMB’s to very large corporations, are being subject to an organized crime organization: Ransomware. Guillermo elaborates on it further: “Ransomware is an epidemic of crime that is affecting companies, sometimes individuals and certainly Governments across the world. The problem is that the criminals who attack as ransomware have turned this into a very profitable business, who have developed a business that is well organized and globalized who operate primarily in places like Russia but they have affiliates all over the world.

They do the same thing you would do if you were setting up a profitable business and then once they have that model worked out they figured out they could even expand by renting or leasing their service, that’s what we call ransomware-as-a service. Very similar to what big companies do where they rent you space on their cloud infra that hackers the criminals are essentially providing you this as a service, including collecting the ransom, distributing it and then distributing the profit. They are doing this at scale where some of them are taking a profit of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Some of the learnings of facing ransomware attacks according to Guillermo’s expertise would be: “At the heart of the problem is the lack of an integrated response can be devastating not just to companies but Governments.”

Mercedes then added, as a interlink between the integrated approach to security: There’s an increasing necessity of inclusion for peaceful, secure, sustainable development as well a direct correlation between women’s security and their ability to thrive, Christy then shared “When we take a look at the success of women, what we have seen is when women have access to good jobs, steady income, good healthcare, a level-playing field. That’s good for everyone. It’s good for their children, it’s good for their family and it’s good for the economy. When we talk about inclusion, we are talking about women having the same opportunities as men, around the world.”

Christy, elaborates further and shares the first ever women’s economic security strategy with four lines of efforts that the Biden administration is focusing on:

Economic competitiveness.

  • Valuing domestic work and advancing care infrastructure
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and digital inclusion
  • Dismantling systemic barriers to women’s participation
  • A laser-focused strategy which is very exciting as it’s focused on how to implement policy and how we are supporting women.

Part of Guillermo’s visit to Kuwait also included a meeting with women in technology and cybersecurity in Kuwait that left all of the participants energized where opportunities for women to enter the cybersecurity workforce, where women are still underrepresented globally women account for only 2 out of 10 cybersecurity professionals despite representing almost half of the global workforce according to the World Bank, and existing opportunities in the industry were discussed.

The panelist also shared their perspective on AI ethics and frameworks to ensure the responsible use of technology, their superpowers, role models and Star Wars, which is sort of happening already, there’s another domain in the battlefield which is very element to our cybersecurity talk, on the podcast, and that’s the fight for space. Star Wars is not unfortunately just a movie.

Get empowered by listening to the whole exclusive panel on the following link: Tapping into the Untapped | Mercedes Vazquez with Christy Watkins & Guillermo Christensen | Public Affairs Counselor, U.S. Embassy in Kuwait & Cybersecurity expert, Partner at K&L Gates | E9 – Tapping into the Untapped | Mercedes Vazquez | Podcast on Spotify

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