Cybersecurity policy expert. Security researcher. Women in tech advocate. Entrepreneur. Tarah Wheeler’s expertise and experience encompasses the most pressing issues in tech, and we’re honored to announce that she is joining EFF’s advisory board. She will be helping us with our work on information security, data privacy, building diverse and effective engineering teams, and influencing the future of cybersecurity.
Wheeler has long been involved in making tech systems more secure for everyone. She is an International Security Fellow at New America’s International Security Program, leading a new international cybersecurity capacity building project with the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative. At Splunk, a big data analyzation platform, Wheeler was head of offensive security and technical data privacy. Earlier she was senior director of engineering and principal security advocate at Symantec Website Security, and designed systems at encrypted mobile communications firm Silent Circle. Wheeler is founder of information security consultancy Red Queen Technologies, and her 2018 Foreign Policy article on cyberwar called attention to cyberwarfare’s impact on civilians.
In May Wheeler received the US/UK Fulbright Cyber Security Scholar Award for distinguished scholars in the field. She will conduct research at the University of Oxford and with the UK National Health Service (NHS) on defining cyber war crimes and mitigating civilian bystander harms in nation-state sponsored cyberattacks. Wheeler’s Fulbright-supported research will explore both the technical and the social elements of protecting people against cyberconflict by examining the civilian impact of the WannaCry ransomware attack on the NHS.
Adding diversity and ensuring gender equity in tech and infosec has been a focus of Wheeler’s for nearly a decade. She is the lead author of the 2016 best-selling book Women In Tech: Take Your Career to The Next Level With Practical Advice And Inspiring Stories, which provides guidance from top female engineers, entrepreneurs, gamers, and coders.
Wheeler is also a poker player, and says the game isn’t unlike cybersecurity work. Fixing security problems is tough, and in the moment can feel like everything rests on a single decision. “But, over time, you start to fine-tune your sense of decision making,” Wheeler said in an interview last year.
“That’s what poker is like—folding what you have calculated is likely not a winning hand, even if you’re not perfectly sure. Being sure enough that you make a good decision and following through on that good decision and gradually tuning your game so you’re better over time is what poker brought me when it comes to my decision-making process in cybersecurity.”
Welcome to EFF, Tarah!