I always want to be one step ahead of hackers

Varsha Choudhary, IT Security Specialist

Varsha Choudhary (26) and 11 other IT security specialists work together in the Global Security Monitoring Team to protect Rabobank’s applications and systems. They are continually improving the bank’s digital defence walls. Ultimately, Varsha wants to stand on that defence wall and pre-empt any attacks from outside.

“I really wanted to become a hacker. During my Computer Science Engineering bachelor, my fellow students were mainly interested in coding and programming. I thought that was cool too, but I also wanted to be different and got my certificate for the Linux operating system, which would help me hack the university’s site. I didn’t manage to do that, which was a turning point for me. I realised that I preferred to use my skills in a positive way. Now I’m a specialist in protecting organisations against cyber attacks and hackers.”

Developing within the bank

“I’m still using my knowledge about Linux, for example when I’m working with the cyber security tool ArcSight at Rabobank. In this tool I code rules, so that we always get alerts about suspicious activities on time. I have chosen to work in cyber security at Rabobank because we work with different tools here, like Splunk for instance. This means I quickly increase my knowledge of the different tools. And that’s how I can further develop here. I see myself moving through Rabobank like a kind of electron: growing quickly and with more and more knowledge, making me increasingly strong in technology.”

Working together for cyber security

“As a security specialist I protect the bank by understanding how a hacker thinks. I always try to be one step ahead of them. And of course I don’t do that by myself; there are many colleagues and cyber security teams. For example, we have a threat hunting team, a vulnerability scanning and penetration test team and a security monitoring team. In my job I lay the basis for our threat hunters. If the rules in ArcSight are incorrect, they can’t do their job. We therefore work with digital cards, on which we inform one another about who is taking on which task. We do this in our own teams and towards all other teams involved in cyber security. This keeps our work streamlined and the bank secure.”

The open culture also means that I dare to ask about new opportunities at the bank, and I know that I can achieve my goals here.
Varsha Choudhary

Global protection

“I like the idea that in our work we protect Rabobank globally: we also work for other regions, like North America, Brazil and Australia. I think it is important that we contribute to stability in this way. Customers must be able to trust their bank, and because of our efforts they can be sure that their information and money are safe. But the development of data and technology is moving so quickly that it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect that data. We are getting smarter all the time in monitoring and defence, but hackers are also constantly improving their attacks. That’s why I always want to be one step ahead of hackers.”

Developing in an open culture

“I think that the reason why the cooperation between teams is so good is that we have a very open culture at the bank. I notice that people trust us. They really pay attention to what you say, and there is room for criticism. We also receive a lot of constructive feedback. We celebrate our successes together, and what I secretly like very much: you never have to dress formally here. You can really be yourself. The open culture also means that I dare to ask about new opportunities at the bank, and I know that I can achieve my goals here.”