Nicola Whiting: Building a secure world

Women in Security

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Women leaders are transforming the business world. One such leader who is tapping the full potential of technology and helping organizations secure their businesses is Nicola Whiting MBE, Co-Owner of Titania Group. A well-known name in her domain, Nicola champions technology that serves people first, making complex security challenges simpler (not harder). An excellent example of what a leader should be, Nicola believes that there are many routes to success –she says “leaders should provide a clear vison of the end goal and company values, then support and empower their teams to deliver”.

In an interview with Aspioneer, Nicola shared why we need diverse thinking to succeed in the mission of defense.

Automating network security smartly

Nicola Whiting: “Titania was founded in 2009, but like many tech companies (that spring from a solution to a tech need), it was run out of a bedroom for its early years! Eventually, it grew too big to run like that, so the company began its true growth journey in 2011. Our head office is in Worcester UK, but we also have offices near Washington DC. Titania are the proud creators and developers of Nipper, Network auditing software used in over 95 countries and trusted by the world’s most recognizable organizations in securing their networks. Nipper is a desktop application that automates the accurate auditing of firewall, switches, and routing devices to detect exploitable misconfigurations that pose a risk to network security. It is proven to reduce audit times by up to 80%, freeing your team to improve your defense and compliance (rather than wasting time investigating false positives). Nipper includes modules to help automate the assessment of network compliance with regulatory frameworks such as the US NIST 800-171 standard. We’re collaborative, customer-focused, and proud to support multi-national corporations, Governments & Military agencies, like the U.S. Department of Defense, FBI, Visa & IBM in defending their systems against constant attack.”

I’ve been part of building Titania for over a decade, but alongside that journey, I’ve enjoyed living one of our core values to the max—"Go-Giving".

Taking a different route

Nicola Whiting: “Unlike our competitors, which mainly rely on legacy scanning techniques, Nipper virtually models the entire device configuration, – assessing its security and compliance posture “line by line.” This includes conflicting rules and network interdependencies which helps deliver unrivalled accuracy. This virtual modeling approach to performing assessments makes it more accurate at identifying configuration drift than scanning-based tools, which is the industry norm, and reduces false positives. Nipper also provides a network risk context for any issues it finds.

Competitor products may just use CVSS severity rather than risk scoring, but Nipper does this. plus it provides security teams with additional information to empower their decision making. Nipper includes other factors representing a risk to the network, not just to the device, such as: the impact of exploitation of the misconfiguration & how easy it is to exploit, (assessing risk likelihood, and the time it will take to remediate). Furthermore, Titania tools provide fix recommendations and anticipate resource requirements, which help inform the network owner’s remediation plan. This risk and remediation information is of real value to our customers, meaning they optimize their resources and achieve significant security and financial ROI.”

Staying ahead of the curve

Nicola Whiting: “Our success and growth are down to two factors: firstly, the team we have built up—they are truly passionate about and experienced in cyber, and we’re doing great things together and are very proud of that as a team. Secondly, with our software product, Titania Nipper. For more than a decade, leading pentest, vulnerability assessment, and compliance teams have been using Nipper to complement their scanning and software vulnerability management, providing the additional accuracy that’s vital in configuration auditing. Nipper was originally developed to automate pentest and device hardening best practice checks to identify exploitable misconfigurations in networking devices. We know that over the years, the scope, scale, and cadence of our customers’ assessment needs have evolved, and we continue to invest in our products and roadmaps to meet their changing requirements. That’s why today we have so many customers – including the US military, 30+ federal agencies, global telcos, multinational financial institutions, and oil and gas companies – who advocate using Nipper to secure their networks. With its accuracy advantage and trusted risk criticality rating, Nipper has become a must-have tool for cyber leaders focused on establishing a defendable network.”

GoGiving

Nicola Whiting: “I’ve been part of building Titania for over a decade, but alongside that journey, I’ve enjoyed living one of our core values to the max—”Go-Giving”. I’ve supported multiple tech-accelerators sales, market positioning, and growth programs, helped mentor countless start-ups, and contributed to online, on-demand courses to encourage more young people into our industry. I’ve delivered talks and articles across the globe on A.I., ethical business growth, inclusion, and diversity and serve pro-bono on multiple not-for-profit and industry boards dedicated to those areas. My proudest moments were being given the Sparky Baird Award (by the U.S. Military’s Signal Magazine) for my thought leadership in A.I. and how it has changed warfare, receiving the UK’s inaugural Cyber Citizen Award for my services to cyber security, and being awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for Services to International Trade and Diversity.”

Nicola Whiting
Nicola Whiting

Inspired by the best

Nicola Whiting: “I’m very fortunate to be a judge for a number of major cyber security awards, and the contribution of women to our industry is not only phenomenal – it is also often unsung. I admire many women in our industry, like Sian John, Microsoft UK’s Chief Security Advisor, Becky Pinkard, Head of Global Cyber Defence for Vodafone, and Debora Plunkett, former Director of the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate all inspiring and inclusive leaders who constantly and consistently create working environments that allow folks to thrive and lift others. Another woman who I admire immensely is Jane Frankland, who was a key instigator of the “Woman in Tech Movement”. She highlighted the immense disparities in salary and conditions, the barriers to employment women face, and biases we needed to remove from our industry in her 2017 book “IN-SECURITY”. Since then, she’s been a firm advocate for gender inclusion and a mentor to countless women. She’s recently written another book “INSights” which highlights the positives of gender inclusion. It will definitely be worth buying. From the outside, our industry has been accused of being stale, male, and pale. There’s still a lot of work to be done to change that. Cybersecurity has a Vision challenge. Too many companies see diversity as a social exercise rather than a success metric, and that must change. We all know “group-think” is the enemy of innovation and resilience and a real hindrance to bottom-line growth. Attackers don’t come in “one flavor” and we need to be able to “think like them” to defeat them. We need DIVERSE thinking to succeed in our mission of defense. We also need diverse thinking to innovate effectively (after all, an idea without implementation is just a “passing thought”).”

Rejuvenate and bounce back

Nicola Whiting: “I’m very fortunate to live on the Cornish coastline, an area rich in natural beauty and full of vibrant, music-loving, artisan communities. I love going for long walks with our dogs, sea kayaking, and relaxing with various hands-on crafting projects. (It’s less often now, but I still love getting my hammers and torches out to create sculptural jewelry pieces). You’ll also find me occasionally singing in a local bar, as folk music is another passion.

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