Kathy Macdonald

Cyber Security, Online Safety and Fraud Prevention Expert

Kathy Macdonald began her career as a police officer in 1988 working the streets as a beat cop in Calgary, Alberta. With the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, Kathy recognized early on that crime and policing would be changed forever, and she set out to learn everything she could about cyber security. She Calgary Police Service cyber awareness coordinator and media spokesperson for over 12 years. Kathy has conducted hundreds of interviews, offered safety advice and commentary on technology and cybercrime.

Kathy Macdonald’s a passion for cybercrime prevention inspires audiences to become better informed about the Internet and better armed against the pitfalls. She shares her wisdom from her police officer experience. Her engaging presentations show why you need to be diligent and skeptical online.

As a professional speaker, author, consultant and university instructor, Kathy Macdonald brings a depth of investigative experience and a great passion for cyber security awareness to audiences. Kathy has seen firsthand the devastating and long-term damage cybercrime produces during her experience as a former police officer. Kathy’s knowledge of cybercrime prevention has led to a national award as well as global speaking engagements with law enforcement, the corporate sector, security groups, government and academia. The information she shares in her speeches and upcoming book serves to advance national cybercrime strategies or what she refers to as ‘predatory Cybercrime’.

As a keynote speaker Kathy Macdonald shares her deep industry knowledge and experience to dramatically increase cyber awareness and cyber security with corporations and associations. In 2009, Kathy was honoured when the Governor General of Canada Invested her with the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (M.O.M.), an award recognizing service and commitment to the community. Kathy strongly supports Stop. Think. Connect., a global messaging convention that unifies the response to cybercrime to millions of people worldwide.

Kathy Macdonald’s academic credentials are impressive. She holds a Masters of Security Risk Management with Merit (MSc.) from the University of Leicester, is a Certified Protection Professional (C.P.P.) from ASIS International, achieved a Security Management Certificate and General Management Certificate from the University of Calgary, and holds a Senior Police Management Certificate (SPAC). Kathy has successfully completed a many courses and specialized training on topics including media relations, business leadership, open source intelligence gathering and fraud investigations.

Kathy Macdonald’s Awards: 

  • The Governor General Award, Member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (M.O.M.)
  • Long Service Award – Calgary Police Service
  • Alberta Centennial Medal – Government of Alberta
  • Police and Private Security Liaison Award – ASIS International
  • Leadership Award for the World Police/Fire Games – Calgary Chief of Police.

Topic Presentations

Everyday, employees are being tested and organization's networks are being probed for weaknesses by cyber criminals, hackers and other malicious actors. In the world of high stakes cybercrime, those in business have the MOST to lose. With the proliferation of new technologies, the opportunities for cyber attacks are increasing at a rapid pace. Defences are required NOW, to understand critical cyber security safeguards that help to bulletproof business operations.

Employees form a vital human shield of protection and they are an important first line of defence against cybercriminals who wage these unrelenting ransomware, spear phishing and business email compromise attacks. Focusing on human behaviour within a corporate culture, Kathy discusses the tactics, techniques and procedures used in social engineering attacks as they are a disruptive force in the majority of data breaches. She talks about how bad habits, less secure practices, and risky patterns of behaviour can be managed by instilling a mindset in employees that incorporates proactive security training. In the face of adversity, employees need to recognize and respond promptly and effectively to cyber attacks. Kathy focuses her presentation on proven security strategies that are positive, adaptive and performance driven. It is critical that organizations embrace security measures that can help to reduce privacy vulnerabilities or increase their liability in the use, collection and disposal of business data and personally identifiable information.

By instilling a culture of security awareness, this riveting keynote goes to great lengths to help prepare organizations for growing digital demands from disruptive forces and persistent cyber attacks.

Organizations of all sizes are discovering how challenging it is to protect their 21st Century digital environment. Defending a network is daunting. Security teams, business owners and managers often lose sleep at night worrying about protecting their digital assets from persistent spear-phishing, business email compromise (BEC) and ransomware attacks. It takes strong leadership, peak performance, and strategic communications to manage an engaged workforce that on a daily basis conducts risky activities that their jobs inescapably involve, such as clicking on links, responding to emails or opening email attachments.

Employees are highly targeted gatekeepers and they must possess the ability to recognize risk, make smart decisions, and if they encounter suspicious behaviour, know what to do about it. Building a resilient organization, takes a robust security policy, combined with employees willing to actively engage in training. It also takes a management team that is willing to pivot at moments notice in the event of a cyber-related crisis. Having both a prompt and effective incident response plan, and a security awareness program is critical. When an incident occurs, as it probably will, it is important to encourage employees to actively defend, and report vulnerabilities with no worry of negative judgement, retribution or punishment for reporting threats.

In this presentation Kathy helps organization's build a robust security program that addresses risk, decision-making, and innovative concepts that are simple yet, engaging, positive and strategic. This presentation embodies the ideals of trust and builds employees understanding and recognition of the importance of awareness, training and education as it pertains to cybercrime prevention. Kathy discusses the importance of integrating delivery methods including social media, engaging visuals, special events and planned events that actively promote security awareness. She talks about written instructional materials, delivery methods, advisories, posters and policy.

The topic of cyber security is very broad therefore, employees should strive to have common knowledge in a variety of cyber-related subjects. The best way to gain common knowledge, is to have access to a broad base of information, interact with people and organizations that are recognized as specialists in the field, and stay current in this evolving field.

Highlights of this presentation include:

  • Discussing the role of employees and organizations in cybersecurity;

  • Examining awareness programs associated to social engineering, phishing, and threats such as ransomware and business email compromise (BEC).

  • Talking about how cybersecurity solutions impact our businesses, industries, and personal life.

  • Learning from best practices and proven resources to help promote cyber security.

Kathy aims this presentation for non-technical individuals to provide awareness of basic security concepts, common elements of cyber security such as malware, breaches and threats, current and new trends on cyber security. She discusses how cyber security impacts businesses, industries, and personal life.

The proliferation of technology has created a greater opportunity for cyber criminals to target their victims at work and at home. In this presentation, Kathy offers a real-world glimpse into criminality on the Internet and the importance of cyber security.

By sharing practical tips and resources to help reduce online risk, Kathy talks about common tactics, techniques and procedures used in social engineering attacks, and shares ideas that help Internet users prevent the accidental or inadvertent oversharing of valuable personally identifiable information. In this presentation she talks about the high impact threat of ransomware and spear phishing, the recent exponential increase in online fraud, and the devastating consequences of coercion and online sexual exploitation. She offers a glimpse into emerging security threats of IoT devices and explains how open source intelligence gathering provides Internet users an opportunity to build their own investigative mindset.

Kathy offers guidance about how to respond effectively to a variety of cyber-related risks, and provides helpful resources where they are needed. Kathy's actionable advice reminds Internet users that mounting a successful defence against cybercrime is everyone's business.

More people are accessing the Internet to socialize, work from home and conduct business transactions. In the current environment, there has been a significant global increase in cyberbullying, online sexual coercion and exploitation, and personal online crime such as revenge porn, romance scams and images of child sexual abuse material. Essentially, during the lockdowns people of all ages have been attempting to normalize intimate relationships via the Internet.

It can be unsafe to share intimate photos, stories, secrets and personally identifiable information with anyone online but, particularly high-risk to do so with an unknown individual. Of course, once personally identifiable information of any kind is shared, it can be used without the owner's consent. These types of incidents leave victims of identity theft, sexual exploitation, and fraud feeling vulnerable and confused. In many cases, compromising material may be used by nefarious individuals for extortion, blackmail and coercion to demand money or additional incriminating images. This is particularly troublesome when the compromising material involves young people who often are scared and unsure of how to respond. In the face of adversity, value-based decisions under pressure must be made, and this places personally identifiable information at risk to crime.

This presentation focuses on cyber hygiene, creating a resilient mindset, and improving online mental health. Protecting a reputation, controlling uncertainty, building confidence, and safeguarding personally identifiable information from risk takes leadership. This presentation talks about how to avoid and respond to online abuse, and how to prevent it from impacting our relationships, emotions, social life and school. This session shares real-world stories,  strategies to help build healthy relationships online, and talks about how cybersecurity practices can be incorporated into every facet of cyber life.

Kathy dealt with many victims of cyberbullying and online abuse while working as a crime prevention officer. Over the years she has conducted hundreds of presentations in schools where she has met with teachers, parents and students to talk about the risks, responses and resources available to deal with cyberbullying, online abuse and the coercion and sexual exploitation of children.

Kathy shares practical tips and resources to help reduce personal online risk and her actionable advice reminds Internet users that security is everyone's business, and that it is vital to be proactive online at all times.

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