There is this girl child group called SheHacks, composed of a community of women in cybersecurity from various backgrounds and counties across Kenya. The goal of the group is to connect learners and experts who share knowledge, experience and mentorship through various platforms and programmes through annual events known as HackFests. This group has this year received a formidable support from none other than Microsoft through Microsoft’s Cloud and AI Security Engineering team.
In the 2019 SheHacks’ HackFest that brought more than 300 women from across the country at Strathmore to exchange ideas and networking opportunities, Microsoft reiterated its commitment to advocate for women with an interest in security engineering. Earlier this year, Microsoft awarded 7 groups of women at their LEAP hackathon, a clear demonstration that Microsoft is taking the endeavour of the girl child to be proficient in hacking and cyber security solutions very seriously.
Microsoft is focused “to prepare women to thrive in the technology industry. We want to make it easy for anyone to take their next step forward in technology,” said Hayden Hainsworth, General Manager for Cybersecurity Engineering at Microsoft during her keynote speech at the SheHacks HackFest 2019 held at Strathmore University, Nairobi.
The support Microsoft is giving the girl child to be good at hacking comes when the country is realising there is a great need for more hackers (cyber security experts) in Kenya. Kenya for instance is one of the few countries with high Internet Penetration, almost reaching 100%, but with very few cyber security experts. It has actually been estimated that in a country where almost 46 million Kenyans have access to the Internet, only 1,700 of them can be considered experts in cyber security matters. This is on the backdrop of data from Communication Authority that has identified that cyber security threats in Kenya is on the increase, and that most of these threats target small and medium enterprises.
As the country look forward to increasing the number of cyber security experts, groups such as SheHacks and Microsoft want to be in the forefront in ensuring that the girl child also grabs some of the available opportunities. ” “Since we founded this initiative, we have seen tremendous growth in the number of women and young people who want to take part. This year alone, we are hosting close to 300 young ladies from Kenya to equip and empower them with the required technical know-how to combat cyber-crime”, said the Founders of SheHacks Evelyn Kilel and Laura Tich.
In conclusion, Pratik Roy Modern Workplace and Security Business Group Lead for Microsoft in North, West, East, Southern Africa, Levant & Pakistan noted Kenya has one of the highest number of internet users with over 46 million people having access to the service, according to internet world statistics. But with the acceleration of digitalisation comes insecure consumer habits. This coupled with inadequate cybersecurity measures in key sectors and eventually turning Kenya into a lucrative target for cyber criminals. Our collaboration with SheHacks provides a great opportunity to empower more youth with the right skills – most urgent cybersecurity skills to accelerate digital success in the region.