Rebecca Bace speaking at the 2016 O'Reilly Security Conference in New York.
Rebecca Bace speaking at the 2016 O'Reilly Security Conference in New York. (source: O'Reilly Conferences via Flickr)

In her keynote at O’Reilly Security Conference in New York 2016, Rebecca “Becky” Bace shared her vision for the future of cybersecurity. Within her talk, Becky encouraged defenders to study analogous safety industries in history and heed the lessons learned. She urged defenders to recognize the importance of understanding the context of the challenges we face today by considering historical parallels and our shared goals for the future. With more than three decades in what is an arguably young discipline, Becky was incredibly well qualified to provide this larger context. Unfortunately, only a few months after sharing this message, Becky Bace passed away.

We’re excited and honored to announce a new Defender Award, commemorating Becky, her contributions, and her inimitable spirit—The Rebecca Bace Pioneer Award. This annual award will recognize a defender who forged new paths in defensive security. We can think of no greater way to celebrate Becky and her role within the security community than by continuing her efforts to boost, support, and celebrate others within the space. The winner of the first annual Rebecca Bace Pioneer Award will be announced at the O’Reilly Security Conference in New York. Please help us celebrate Becky by nominating worthy defenders for the first annual Rebecca Bace Pioneer Award here.

We created the O’Reilly Defender Awards to celebrate our security heroes and heroines. And we can think of few as deserving of these honors as Becky Bace. Her technological contributions and her long-standing efforts to build, support, and boost the security community and its individual members make her a true pioneer in defensive security.

Becky had more than 35 years of experience in technology and more than 30 years were focused specifically on security. It’s impossible to fit her extensive technological achievements into a short paragraph, but here’s a brief summary of just a few of her efforts. She was an early leader in exploring and documenting intrusion detection techniques, an influencer and founder in the earliest government forays into cybersecurity, including spending 12 years at the US National Security Agency leading the Computer Misuse and Anomaly Detection (CMAD) research program. As chief strategist at the Center for Forensics, Information Technology, and Security (CFITS) at the University of South Alabama, she developed a highly respected academic program in her home state.

Beyond her considerable technological achievements and contributions, Becky was known for her role as a mentor, an encourager, and a fierce friend within the security community. She was affectionately called the “den mother of computer security” or “infomom,” though as Jack Daniel tells us in the latest O’Reilly Security podcast, she preferred the moniker, “cranky broad.”

In the words of others:

When I think about Becky Bace, I remember her warm and friendly demeanor, her charming voice, and her welcoming hugs. Many of us knew her as "infomom," the mother bear nurturing the information security community. Her professional accomplishments as a pioneer in cybersecurity research were numerous and tremendously impactful. She literally wrote the book on Intrusion Detection and led the Computer Misuse and Anomaly Detection Program at the NSA. She moved onto Los Alamos National Laboratory and then onto a number of private sector positions. Her favorite role was that of mentor and teacher. There's nothing like reading her story as told through her own words. Her oral history is preserved and can be read here. Becky Bace has left a lasting impression on our community and we will always remember her. — Caroline Wong, Vice President of Security Strategy, Cobalt
Becky was known as the den mother of IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems), for her work fostering and supporting intrusion detection and network behavior analysis. But even beyond her amazing technical expertise and contributions, Becky gave the best hugs in the world. She was just an amazingly warm, friendly, and welcoming person. One of the things that always struck me about Becky is the number of people she mentored through the years, and the number of people whose careers got a start or a boost because of Becky. She was just pure awesome. She would go out of her way to help people, and the more they needed help, the more likely she would be to find them and help them. — Jack Daniel, Co-founder of Security, BSides
Article image: Rebecca Bace speaking at the 2016 O'Reilly Security Conference in New York. (source: O'Reilly Conferences via Flickr).