‘The world is full of mysteries that I am eager to solve’

Maria Isabel Manjarrez Roa, Security Researcher at Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team, shares insights on her journey in cybersecurity.

Even though Isabel had never thought about the field of cybersecurity before, she now specializes in reverse engineering and advanced threat detection as a Security Researcher with Kaspersky’s GReAT team, proudly bearing the nickname that her family gave her – Cybersecurity Lady

I joined Kaspersky as a cybersecurity researcher in Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team in Latin America in April 2023. Now, I can do what I am passionate about – researching and knowing what is behind the technological enigmas around me.

years ago

I never imagined I would be working in cybersecurity

Maria Isabel Manjarrez Roa,
Security Researcher

I was born in Mexico City. My mother is an engineer, working with satellite communications. As a child, I learned technological terms that are unusual for other kids, like megabits, megabytes, bandwidth, and so on. When the time to choose a career path came, I didn’t hesitate to pursue a degree in telecommunications engineering, which had a strong emphasis on electronics and hardware.


Among my 25 classmates, there were few girls. Being naturally shy, it was initially challenging for me to make friends and collaborate on study projects. Over time, I gradually developed this skill. However, working in teams comprised solely of women during my education in university brought me immense joy. The sense of sisterhood and support is incomparable. This is why I dream of seeing more women in STEM fields.


During my last year of university, I enrolled in an offline cybersecurity course that enlightened me on how cyberthreats can impact the world. I was both impressed and shocked by the information presented, realizing this is something that affects us all and has been part of our lives for some time.


I had no knowledge of cybersecurity until my final semester at university. I knew the classic recommendations for internet browsing and chat interactions. However, I was unaware of how this topic was already part of our daily lives and the lack of education that exists around it. Since then I have been interested in being able to share what I know about cybersecurity with the people around me to raise awareness and prevent them from the risks on the internet.

Teaching my grandmother why she shouldn’t open all the links she received in WhatsApp was a great opportunity to communicate this message in a simple and friendly way

There were difficult moments, including some in which I had to prove that I had the necessary skills in the face of the prejudice of being the only woman.

My family and friends even call me the Lady of Cybersecurity! But I love educating my loved ones on basic cybersecurity practices, like helping my relatives and friends to learn how to use their cell phone securely. Technology is ubiquitous in our world – it’s everywhere and you cannot escape from it. So, why not help others to discover this fascinating field?


Meanwhile, I continued to expand my knowledge by taking numerous cybersecurity courses and eventually landed a position in the cybersecurity department of a consulting firm, where I spent approximately five years. At first, it was very challenging to get used to being the first girl in a team composed entirely of men. What’s more, they all focused on penetration testing, simulating potential cyberattacks to find weak spots in systems, and offensive security, while I was one of the few people working in threat intelligence. I had to create many parts of the operation from scratch I had to investigate and analyse an unbelievable amount of information. In the end, I felt so proud of myself. Maybe, I’m really capable of everything, if I put my mind to it?


There were difficult moments, including some in which I had to prove that I had the necessary skills in the face of the prejudice of being the only woman. However, although these situations are hard and unpleasant, my work has always supported me by showing that I have the necessary skills.


In 2023, I was lucky to join Kaspersky – it really changed my perspective on the importance of research. I was charmed by place and priority Kaspersky gives to this task. I’ve always been intrigued by how the world is full of mysteries – and now I knowhow and am able to solve some of them. What I love the most about the world of technology is its vast and diverse nature.


Of course, we cannot be experts in every aspect of cybersecurity, but it is important to know that there is always someone friendly and willing to help you in this area. I found it in Kaspersky. Each person thinks differently and has a unique perspective, and thanks to them I can find new points of view on the tasks. And, of course, they are all so inspiring for me to learn and achieve more.


For instance, we have a practice when other researchers of GReAT team revise our studies before publishing. It is very important to have the perspective of other researchers in an intelligence report, this way we can have interesting feedback with details that we may not have considered. Comments from other team members greatly benefits further research and could spark a new research idea – role models are not always distant and unattainable. They can be found close by and can serve as sources of inspiration. In fact, every woman in STEM I’ve met during my lifepath has inspired me through the way – starting from my mom, working as an engineer, and even now, when I’m finding outstanding examples among my female colleagues.

Find a female role model who would empower you. If there’s none, become an example for others yourself.

Every day, I am honing my skills to become a better version of myself. So, here are some of my tips on what I can tell the girls willing to enter the STEM industry:



There’s a whole list of different fields in STEM, but you do not have to choose only one. You can try each and even mix them! Only this way comes truly amazing scientific breakthroughs.



No matter how funny it sounds, don’t be afraid to learn new things including the basics. There are times when we are afraid to learn things because we have never tried them, but it can also be scary to go back to learning something in which you’re not confident. Some examples of this may be learning English, structuring ideas, public speaking and programming. There will always be areas we need to work on, so don’t let this stop you and do it at your own pace.



Try more and more. If you learn how to ride a bike, you’re likely to fall eventually. But then you stand up and continue. The same is here. Don’t you ever give up.

Empower women

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