GCA Director Operations, Shehzad Mirza, Named 2020 FISSEA Cybersecurity Awareness and Training Innovator

We are proud to announce that our GCA Director of Operations, Shehzad Mirza, has received the 2020 Cybersecurity Awareness and Training Innovator Award from the Federal Information Security Educators (FISSEA). The recognition was bestowed during the annual FISSEA Summer Series event on September 21.

Each year at the annual conference FISSEA recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to inspire the strategic planning, building, and management of innovative cybersecurity awareness and training programs. Shehzad was selected for the Innovator award for his role in advancing awareness and implementation of DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) across the public and private sectors in the U.S. and globally. Specifically, Shehzad’s successful training efforts have led directly to increased DMARC implementation.

Shehzad launched the Defend & Deliver DMARC Bootcamp, comprising five weeks of one-hour online technical sessions targeted to IT and security practitioners. The bootcamp covers numerous technical elements including the basics of SPF and DKIM and demonstrations of creating DNS records on several systems. By the end of the bootcamp, participants have enough information to move to the highest DMARC policy level of “reject” immediately or within a few months. 

Two bootcamps have been conducted thus far, with the third currently in progress. The first two bootcamp saw more than 3,000 registrants from more than 1,200 organizations, across more than 50 countries. By the end of the first bootcamp, held in September 2019, 90 organizations had implemented DMARC, and as of late August 2020 nearly 30% of bootcamp participants have implemented DMARC. By the end of the second bootcamp, held in May 2020, 60 bootcamp participating organizations had implemented DMARC, and as of late August 2020, nearly 20% have already implemented DMARC. Those numbers continue to grow.

Every step of the way, Shehzad assisted course registrants with resources and guidance, which is evidenced by the 60% or higher attendance rate he maintained throughout the five weeks of training. An average of 10 organizations implemented DMARC each week during the bootcamp.

Shehzad’s activities have benefitted the public sector by helping U.S. federal civilian agencies implement DMARC correctly in support of BOD 18-01. His training has also been accessed by U.S. state and local governments through collaboration with the Multi-State ISAC.

Shehzad’s ability to convey complex material to a broad community makes him especially successful in reaching his audience. Congratulations to Shehzad on this well-deserved recognition! 

His nomination included support from two DMARC industry leaders and GCA partners:

Seth Blank, Vice President, Standards and New Technologies, Valimail, Inc.:

“The DMARC standard is crucial for organizational security– protecting one’s employees, customers, and brand. But not enough organizations use the standard, leading to tremendous losses every year due to fraud. The work Shehzad has done to accelerate awareness and implementation of DMARC is significantly important for the entire cybersecurity ecosystem. Shehzad has fought tirelessly to build a training program that drives participants to dive in, get their hands dirty, and make the changes necessary to be successful with a technologically nuanced process.

Many cybersecurity initiatives only generate action while people are in the room. But the outcome of Shehzad’s training program not only drove immediate awareness, it continued to drive implementations over time from the participants throughout the following weeks and months. This is how we change an industry and protect everyone using the internet.” 

Tim Draegen, CEO, dmarcian:

“Shehzad Mirza’s commitment to discovering, advocating for, and supporting high-impact cybersecurity technologies makes the online world a better place. As one of the first to recognize the benefits of DMARC, Shehzad has been instrumental in globally advocating for the adoption of DMARC and in helping to make DMARC accessible to organizations of all sizes. The only barrier to continued DMARC adoption is awareness and expertise, and Shehzad’s ability to create and train new experts is both rare and necessary.”