Spirited Woman in the Spotlight Series

A business is only as good as its people. Here at Spirit, we have some exceptional team members within our group. We caught up with Bim Allaine Teves, an Advanced Threat Specialist with one of the Spirit subsidiaries, Intalock, to chat about her role and what led her into the cyber security field. Bim is a quiet high-achiever with a great story to tell. We hope you enjoy it.  

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and background and how you got into the cyber security industry?

I grew up in Laguna, which is a small province of the Philippines with my parents and two siblings. Life was very simple life, there was no traffic, so it was a bit of a shock when I moved to a bigger city to further my studies. At high school I was very interested in computers, helping out friends with assignments and so on, and this led to me to choose a Bachelor of Information Technology as my preferred area of learning.

Around 30% of my class was female at the start of the course, but this dropped off somewhat during the subsequent semesters. I would say the IT industry is largely male dominated also.      

Information technology is a very wide field, so I then completed a vendor agnostic certification that aroused my interest in cyber security. It’s now been eight years since I graduated, and I’ve moved from monitoring roles into advanced threat response.

Tell us a bit about your role, why you enjoy it and what it entails.

I am the only member of the advanced threat specialist response unit based in the Philippines, so I work with Australian based colleagues every day. As I was part of the Security Operations Centre team before moving to my current team, I often collaborate with them from triaging incidents to formulating initiatives relevant to business operating procedures.

The Advanced Threat Response Unit is a fairly new addition to the Intalock services, and I’ve helped build the team and processes. I enjoy the mix of fundamental knowledge and learning on the job. I would say I like to work methodically, step by step to ensure nothing is missed or overlooked. Then if I identify possible routes to improved efficiency, I try to document those for wider use.

The team’s duties include threat emulation, threat hunting, threat intelligence, digital forensics, and incident response. The job is quite demanding. No two days are alike, but I am happiest when resolving an issue on a busy day. If I was a firefighter, you could say I’d be happiest when there’s a fire to put out.

Cyber security is a bit like a war, there are attackers, and we must think like a hacker to counter their moves. We follow attack frameworks to determine how sophisticated an attack might be and predict what their next manoeuvres might be. When I was in SOC, one of the malicious acts we see on a daily basis are convincing phishing emails. We then investigate about the entities (sender, attachments, links) present in the email, along with intent of the email being sent.

As a kid I loved visual novels that require the reader to choose between certain options to unravel the mystery. I would say that this continues to help me both in my job and in the real world, where I must consider things like possible benefits and consequences of the options in front of me, before picking the best path forward.

How do you deal with the pressure of the role?

My position does contain high pressure, so burnout is always a potential outcome. For me I’ve learned to prioritise my tasks very well, focussing primarily on the immediate and finalising the less immediate later on. Learning how much you can take on each day is very important. Out of work I like to go to the gym with my family, which is great because it’s combining physical health with building a stronger family connection.  

What advice would you give to women about entering the cyber security industry?

I would recommend doing the vendor agnostic training that I did before deciding what area you might like to specialise in. I also would recommend researching the industry, listing your short and long-term goals, networking within the industry, and then working with your employer to pursue your goals. Almost a year ago, I expressed the intent of moving beyond monitoring roles to my colleagues at Intalock, and I was given the opportunity to move to my current, advanced threat specialist role.

My next career step is to teach cyber security part-time, while still working with Intalock, and I’m excited about this challenge. The best way to learn something is by demonstrating your expertise and knowledge and I love helping people with their career progression. I’m also looking forward to meeting the rest of my Intalock colleagues in person. I started with Intalock in 2020 during the COVID lockdown, so there hasn’t been much chance to travel, but hopefully soon.

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