National

Woman organizes 'girls-only' IT security event

by Yasushi Kakizaki

Kyodo

A Tokyo woman eager to network with other women interested in information security recently organized a “girls-only” event on the subject in the Roppongi district touted as the first in the country.

Called “CTF for Girls,” the event also offered beginners a chance to study ways to defend and attack computers. CTF stands for “Capture the Flag,” a term used in computer security competitions.

Although there are few women in the industry, Asuka Nakajima, 23, developed an interest in the field when she was in high school and read a novel about computer hackers.

“I thought how cool it would be to protect the world with a single computer,” she said.

Nakajima began studying information technology and information security on her own, without any previous knowledge on the subject. She continued her studies at Keio University’s Department of Environment and Information Studies and led her team to victory in a national security competition.

Since joining NTT Secure Platform Laboratories in 2013, she has mainly been researching software vulnerabilities. She has few female colleagues, however, and notes that women make up less than 10 percent of the workshops she takes part in.

Eventually she began to think there must be more women out there who share her interests and concerns.

After learning of a women-only CTF held last November in South Korea, she decided to set up an office to organize a similar event in Japan. Helping her at the event in June were nine women she met through mutual acquaintances.

Nakajima expected around 20 people at most but saw 80 sign up in three days.

“We have been able to create a community of female engineers,” she said.

Nakajima, who is so interested in computer security that she participates in international CTF competitions in her spare time, said her dream is to contribute to society by researching and developing security technology.