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Alumna Stays Ahead of Hackers as Security Engineer

December 1, 2017


From WikiLeaks and voter data to some of the nation’s largest financial institutions, it seems nothing is off limits when it comes to privacy. With emphasis on cybersecurity at an all-time high, the individuals working to prevent these breaches must always remain one step ahead of hackers. Information Systems and Kosovo native Teuta Hyseni ’11 is one of the people making sure things remain secure.

As a security engineer at Microsoft, she is responsible for leading application security projects, assessing potential flaws within an application, and reviewing the application's architecture. Simply put, she makes sure features that are supposed to be part of an “app” don’t have bugs or loopholes that could be exploited and acts as the first line of defense against hackers.

"It’s exciting and intriguing and you have to think outside the box when you're acting as a hacker,” she said. “I will actually hack the product and make sure the bad guys don’t get there first. Before, all you needed was a browser to access an app. These days, essentially everything from cars to medical devices and power plants are powered by applications. This can be very dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands.”

Previously, Hyseni was at the Denim Group as an application development and security consultant where she began working on projects involving cybersecurity and became fascinated with it. She also worked on development side of the application and on one project, she worked with Google as a software engineer contractor.

“I see it as a mission and a duty to protect our users’ private information,” she said. “Last year, there were $450 billion in losses because of stolen personal data. Cyber crime is becoming a war between states and the risk factors need to be addressed on a global level since the internet is open to anyone. Hacking can be used as a weapon and a tool to manipulate control so it’s very important that we do everything we can to prevent it.”

Besides the technical, logic, and mathematics knowledge gained from her computer science courses, she also learned the fundamentals of problem solving at TLU, as well as the value of a liberal arts education. Her involvement with Bulldog Investment Company also helped her attain leadership and presentation skills.

"At TLU, I learned how to discuss complex ideas, communicate, and gather information," she said. "I also gained knowledge of logic mathematics, how to use statistics to judge and model conceptually, how to express complex ideas in clear writing and speech, and how to be able to distinguish causation from correlation and coincidence. Bulldog Investment Company helped me with my presentation skills and with how to turn data into knowledge. There is a more intimate setting at TLU where you can get to know your professors and there is a lot of support."

Hyseni also has a passion for encouraging other women and young girls to pursue STEM fields.

"It's really important to have a broad mind and to question things," she said. "The more women and girls we have going into STEM is better overall for the global economy. They should start being encouraged as young as kindergarten. It's important for them to be challenged, to feel excited, and to see these are not industries just meant for men."

Down the line, she sees herself opening her own company and developing a product people can use to increase their own cybersecurity.

"TLU really helped me prepare for a career," she said. "It's a great place to find out what you're good at and develop a passion for something. I feel as though I gained a family there along with an education."