Following a memorial service for former Cyber Security Challenge CEO Stephanie Daman, at the Church of St Stephen with St John yesterday in Westminster, Nigel Harrison, MBE, acting chief executive launched the Cyber Challenge Foundation charity in her memory.
Among the many things that Stephanie was known for was championing of diversity in the sector, not only promoting the role of women and ethnic minorities, but also other disadvantaged groups, from those with autism or aspergers, to marginalised working class white boys in poor areas. The charity thus aims to fulfil her vision of creating a support system for individuals across the UK who may want to get into cyber -security but have or would have found it difficult to do so. The Foundation will provide grants towards the provision of education, training, mentoring and hardship relief across the country.
Cyber Security Challenge UK will raise capital for the Foundation through corporate sponsorship, fundraising events and private donations with the first fundraising evening, in partnership with BT, taking place during the Challenge's Masterclass competition on Monday 13th November.
Harrison said: “At the Challenge we are continually working to encourage diversity throughout the cyber security industry. It was Stephanie's vision to expand this work and provide real help to those who struggle to find support in the usual places. Diversity increases creativity, productivity and culture, and at a time when the cyber security threat continues to grow, making this sector more accessible is a logical and much-needed step.”
Talking specifically about promoting women in the Baroness Pauline Neville Jones, patron of the Cyber Security Challenge told SC Media UK, that for many women it's about the image of the industry or lack of knowledge about cyber-security as a career. While soft skills such as communications, and business risk skills are now requirements for CISOs, they still need to have a firm grasp of the technology, so it's not a choice between tech and soft skills, they need both. And when given the opportunity, women have demonstrated that they can do both tech and other aspects.
Harrison agreed, noting how the charity was a very fitting memorial, continuing the work Stephanie had been engaged in. Also talking to SC Media UK, Dr Robert Nowill, chairman of the Cyber Security challenge emphasised the wide range of disadvantaged groups that would be helped, noting that it was not only good for them, but good for the industry to have a more diverse labour force, seeing problems from different perspectives.
With a predicted shortfall of 1.8 million skilled cyber-security workers by 2022, the industry is crying out for talented individuals to consider cyber security as a viable career path. Yet, in the UK, there are still millions of adults who do not have even the most basic digital skills, through the absence of technology and internet access, lack of education and insufficient funds. Earlier this year the Government's Digital Skills Strategy Report highlighted that one in ten adults have in the UK have never even used the Internet.
By providing better accessibility to the industry, the Cyber Challenge Foundation seeks to promote better diversity within the cyber security profession. According to industry association (ISC)2, only 11 percent of the UK cyber security workforce is female (seven percent global average) and only 12 percent are from ethnic minorities. Within the UK there are also clear correlations with geographical location and the likelihood of possessing digital skills, according to a report by Ipsos Mori.