SheHacks 2019: Microsoft cements commitment to Support Women in Cyber-security Engineering

Microsoft, through the Cloud and AI Security Engineering team, has reiterated its commitment to advocate for women with an interest in security engineering through the SheHacks annual HackFest Festival.

The pronouncement, made during this year’s annual HackFest held at Strathmore Business School, underscores the organisation’s commitment to supporting developing, sponsoring and advocating for women with an interest in Security Engineering.

SheHacks is a community of women cyber warriors. It is founded & led by women who are looking to bridge the skills, and gender gaps in Information Security in Kenya, and across the continent. The community brings together learners and experts who share knowledge, experience and mentor-ship through the various platforms and programs they run. The current event runs through today, 18th October, and tomorrow.

Speaking during the event, Hayden Hainsworth, General Manager for Cybersecurity Engineering at Microsoft, highlighted the importance of such strategic partnerships and events in developing competency in tackling cyber threats in a rapidly evolving tech ecosystem.  

“My mission is geared towards empowering our customers and partners to get and stay secure on their journey to cloud while inspiring the next generation of cybersecurity engineers”.

SheHacks Kenya Strathmore University Microsoft
Hayden Hainsworth, General Manager for Cybersecurity Engineering at Microsoft

“We are really delighted to be partnering with SheHacks for this year’s Hackathon, with a focus 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,” Hainsworth added.  

The Cyber Security Ventures Report for 2018 to 2021 estimates that by the year 2021, there’ll be over 3.5 Million unfilled positions in Cyber Security. Such programs, as organised by SheHacks, are helpful in getting more people, especially ladies, into the space.

“There aren’t enough security experts in the world. If you want a job where you’ll be on high demand in future, get into cyber security,” said Hayden Hainsworth during her Keynote opening talk.

SheHacks Founders Evelyn Kilel, and Laura Tich emphasized the need for increased support towards youth in Kenya.

SheHacks Kenya Strathmore University Microsoft
Evelyn Kilel, and Laura Tich – SheHack Founders

“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”, they said. 

Pratik Roy who is the Business Group Lead – Security & Modem Workplace at Microsoft, in his talk noted that 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.

SheHacks Kenya Strathmore University Microsoft
Pratrik Roy

“Our collaboration with SheHacks provides a great opportunity to empower more youth with the right skills – most urgent cyber-security skills to accelerate digital success in the region.” – Pratrik Roy.

Early this year, Microsoft announced a $100 Million investment for an African Development Center in Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya, two cities the company believes present a strategic opportunity to better understand the young continent that is rapidly adopting cloud technology with massive innovations. They said then that they plan on recruiting 100 full-time engineers by the end of 2019, and expanding to 500 across Nairobi and Lagos by 2023.

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