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Kathryn Cotterell

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Network Engineering graduate

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Graduate’s passion for cutting-edge security

Hackers, beware! A Victoria Engineering graduate working as an Information Security Analyst at the Ministry of Justice in Wellington is combining her passion for security with the creative problem-solving skills she learnt as an Engineering and Computer Science student.

Network Engineering graduate, Kathryn Cotterell particularly enjoyed the projects her class was assigned as her courses got more advanced.

“I got to focus on topics that excited me, and then I participated in a research scholarship which was entirely security-based. The cool thing is now I get to use this experience to work in information security, which I love.”

Kathryn’s first job after graduating saw her working at a private information security practice.

“It was really interesting work. I was given permission to attack websites and networks to find vulnerabilities. After working there for a year I wanted more experience, so I took a role with the Ministry of Justice.”

Kathryn’s team supports the Ministry by providing advice on how to protect data. Her role involves a mix of monitoring and improving security, providing advice and training to staff to guard against hackers, and reporting suspected breaches.

“In government a lot of sensitive data is held, so we have to make sure hackers can’t access it. I like information security because you have to be able to think in both defensive and offensive terms to figure out all the ways someone could break in.”

Kathryn enjoys keeping up with the latest security news and developments, particularly because the field is constantly changing, with new threats and risks appearing all the time.

Her final-year Honours project armed her with key skills that she now uses in the workplace.

“At Victoria, I created a tool for Android to address malware security concerns. Malware is software which is designed to disrupt or damage a computer system, so that experience directly relates to what I am doing today.”

She also points out that being a female in IT is not as uncommon as it once was. “The majority of the people in my team are female!”

It’s clear Kathryn has found her calling. “By the time I finished my degree I felt very prepared to start my career in the real world. I couldn’t wait to get out there! 

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