Microsoft to support, advocate for women in Cybersecurity Engineering via SheHacks hackathon

Microsoft, through its 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 #SheHackFest2019 held at Strathmore Business School, underscores the organisation’s commitment to supporting developing, sponsoring and advocating for women with an interest in Security Engineering.

Speaking during the event, Hayden Hainsworth, the GM 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”.

(TOP: Hayden Hainsworth, the GM 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.

On their part, SheHacks founders – Evelyn Kilel and Laura Tich – emphasized the need for increased support towards youth in Kenya. “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.

In conclusion, Pratik Roy, Modern Workplace and Security Business Group Lead for Microsoft in North, West, East, Southern Africa, Levant & Pakistan, 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.

“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,” said Pratik.

In a previous interview, Pratik noted that worldwide spending on AI solutions is expected to grow to $46 billion by 2020, with 25% of this growth being in banking and security.

“Education is an ongoing process. The bag of tricks attackers are using to get at businesses’ sensitive information is only getting bigger. We have a team that is constantly monitoring these trends and as a trusted partner of these organizations, we continue engaging (and educating them) during our meetings and share these new trends with them,” he stated.

Devices will tend to be the entry point to access data both personal and corporate. Device access is through the individual’s identity hence protecting the identity becomes paramount and the data on the devices plus on the cloud services the device connects to. Microsoft’s philosophy of security is based on 4 pillars, namely; Identity and Access Management, Information Protection, Threat Protection and Security Management. Using our security stack, we can address the various requirements of each pillar mentioned earlier to improve the security posture of our customers.”

Shehacks, a community of women in cybersecurity from various backgrounds and counties across Kenya, connects learners and experts who share knowledge, experience and mentorship through various platforms and programmes they have through annual events known as HackFests.


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