Steph Dean

As an information security analyst for Westpac, Steph Dean is using what she learnt during her degree to keep customers' information safe and secure.

Steph Dean at Westpac.

Keeping people and companies safe from cybersecurity threats is a fast-growing business with plenty of future career opportunities, as Steph Dean, an information security analyst for Westpac New Zealand, will attest.

“Connecting anything to the internet invites the risk of hacking,” she says. “And with the rise of wifi-enabled products such as fridges, heat pumps, baby monitors and even kids’ toys, there will be more avenues for hackers to compromise a network—so we’re going to need more people who can stop them.”

Keeping networks safe is something that Steph knows a thing or two about. She detects and responds to cybersecurity threats on a daily basis for the bank, and puts controls in place to mitigate threats from new-age hackers. “Keeping our customers’ information safe and secure is obviously our number one priority,” says Steph.

“As threats advance, so too do our tools for mitigation. The ever-changing threat landscape means that no two days are ever the same—which I really enjoy.”

Steph, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Victoria University of Wellington, did courses in Computer Science, Software Engineering and Network Engineering—which, she says, gave her a good, broad range of knowledge. She found her niche in information security, however, while carrying out some research into network vulnerabilities. “It led me to watching hackers talk on YouTube—and I was hooked!”

She also leads security education and awareness for Westpac. “Hackers will often try to compromise a company by gaining access through individuals, so it’s vital that our staff know about scams that are occurring and how to respond to them.”

Steph secured her role with the bank after completing a two and-a-half month Summer of Tech internship with it during the university break. Her advice to others looking at a career in IT? “Give information security a try. Spend a couple of hours at a security-related expo, have a coffee with someone who works in security or simply watch something relevant on YouTube. Only you will know if it feels right for you.”