Hannah Tun finds her voice and makes an impact

As an active member of global group Women in Cybersecurity, she speaks to students and peers

"Cybersecurity is versatile and interesting. It changes every day," Tun said. "I feel proud to protect these networks."

Hannah Tun joined OmniSOC as a lead security engineer in 2020, where she conducts threat intelligence for higher education’s shared cybersecurity operations center. She is the first woman to join her team.  

Originally from Myanmar, Tun completed her IU master’s degree in information systems in 2018. In 2020, she joined OmniSOC, located on IU’s Bloomington campus.

Since Tun joined Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) in 2019, she has enjoyed opportunities to speak at numerous conferences. The group is a global community of women, male allies, and advocates dedicated to bringing talented women together to celebrate and foster their passion and drive for cybersecurity. 

IT Connections spoke with Tun recently to learn more about her career, hobbies, and interests.

Describe OmniSOC and your position, lead security engineer.

OmniSOC, located at IU, is a 24/7/365 cybersecurity operations center for higher education and research institutions. We process and ingest cyber threat intel from various credible sources and conduct proactive threat hunting and analysis. If we see a malicious event within a member’s network, we notify and escalate the incident to the member incident response teams.

We also provide additional information about today’s threats and threat actors and IOC (indicators of compromise) hunts for those specific threats. In my role as a lead security engineer, I participate in the above as a team player.

One to watch. With undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Kelley School of Business, Tun worked in consulting in Chicago and Madison, Wis., before joining OmniSOC as lead security engineer in 2020.

Tell me about your personal and educational background. How did you end up at IU?

I am from Myanmar. I came to the United States at age 15 for college. I did my freshman year at Seattle Central College, then transferred to the IU Kelley School of Business. I finished my undergrad in 2017 with a bachelor’s in finance, technology management, and entrepreneurship. I completed a master’s degree in information systems in 2018.

I started my first job at a consulting firm in Chicago, then moved to Madison, Wis., for a security consulting job before joining OmniSOC in 2020.

What got you interested in cybersecurity? Was there a professor or class that piqued your interest?

I took a mandatory class, BUS-K303 Technology and Business Analysis. My professor, Tarny Malher, became a mentor and caused me to think about technology management as a major. I used to hang out with another professor (no longer an adjunct faculty member) during office hours on Fridays. Both of them motivated me to pursue my current field. BUS-K303 introduced me to my major. My major introduced me to cybersecurity, and that led to my master’s program. Cybersecurity is versatile and interesting. It changes every day. It’s never 9 to 5. I feel proud to protect these networks.  

What are your experiences as an Asian woman in the cybersecurity field and at IU? Have there been challenges and how did you overcome them?

It hasn’t been that much of a challenge being Asian. It’s more of a challenge being a woman. I was the first woman ever hired on my team. I’m also the youngest on the security engineering team. It’s an all-male team with 10 to 20 years of experience. I only have three years of experience, so I had a bit of an imposter syndrome. My knowledge is not the same.

They hired me because they saw my potential, so I try to live up to my potential. It’s an ongoing effort. I complement the team as the first woman. I bring out a new perspective. They have very technical backgrounds, and I have a business and technical background.

A nice balance of work and play. When she's not protecting major research and education networks, Tun enjoys fostering dogs and working out. 

Tell me about your experiences in Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS).   

I joined the group in 2019, and right away I got a lot of exposure and found my voice. The group motivated me and started a spark of life. It gave me a way to make an impact. I have been doing podcasts, writing articles, joining panels, and speaking at conferences. I speak to students. It’s an opportunity to get my voice heard and share my perspective on things.

Last spring before COVID, I was given a scholarship to attend the RSA Conference in San Francisco. I spoke at the University of Wisconsin Cybersecurity Forward Conference about threat hunting and was on their Women in IT panel. In January, I led a Birds of a Feather session about women in IT and allyship at IU’s Statewide IT Conference.

WiCyS is a great community. There are lots of opportunities to speak. I’ve submitted my proposal to speak at the WiCyS conference in Colorado later this fall. And through WiCyS networking, in March, I gave an hour-long career chat to students at Morristown High School in New Jersey.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I foster dogs and recently fostered a new dog, a boxer mix, that came from Oklahoma. I’m learning a lot about dogs and their behaviors. My own dog is a beagle.

For fitness, I do CrossFit, weightlifting, and boxing.

Have the recent events in Myanmar affected any of your family members?

I am not very political, but the recent military coup in Myanmar has prompted me to keep up to date on world events more than I used to. The people in Myanmar are very brave. They’ve been standing up to the military, and many have been killed or jailed.

I worry about my mom, grandpa, and cousins, who are in Yangon, where there have been many protests. There are many embassies in Yangon, so the military tends to shoot less there because it will be noticed by foreign officials. Nevertheless, my family members try not to go out.

I appreciate coworkers who ask me about my family and how they are doing. I encourage coworkers who know someone from another country, especially one where there is a coup or other unrest, to ask about his or her background and family. It feels better to know you have allies and a good support system even at work.