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Cyber Security Challenge UK launches charitable foundation

Cyber Security Challenge UK is setting up charitable foundation to boost accessibility and diversity in cyber security, with an emphasis on supporting those from a disadvantaged background

The Cyber Challenge Foundation was launched in London in memory of Cyber Security Challenge UK’s late chief executive, Stephanie Daman.

The foundation aims to fulfil her vision of creating a support system for individuals across the UK who may be looking to learn cyber security but do not have the means to do so. The foundation will provide grants towards the provision of education, training, mentoring and hardship relief.

With a predicted worldwide 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 revealed that one in 10 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 in the cyber security profession.

According to industry association (ISC)2, women make up only 11% of the UK cyber security workforce, while only 12% are from ethnic minorities. There are also clear correlations between geographical location and the likelihood of possessing digital skills, according to an Ipsos Mori report.

Nigel Harrison, acting chief executive at Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “At the Cyber Security 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.”

Speaking at the launch of the Foundation at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), he said the foundation was dedicated to supporting the things that Daman was passionate about.

“Those were particularly about education, supporting diversity in the [cyber security] industry, and supporting those who are disadvantaged to get that step up onto the ladder.”

Read more about information security skills

Before taking over the role of chief executive at Cyber Security Challenge UK, Daman worked in information security at the British embassy in Washington and the Ministry of Defence, before being seconded to the Cabinet Office. Daman also worked in the security department of HSBC.

The achievements of the last four years of her life, said Harrison, are the proudest, in which she took the Cyber Security Challenge forward despite undergoing treatment for cancer.

“Stephanie saw people as the primary force for good, and the Cyber Security Challenge will ensure that her legacy will live on,” he said at a memorial service ahead of the official launch of the foundation.

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 13 November 2017.

Harrison said the way the foundation will operate will be decided at the first meeting of the foundation’s trustees. To find out more information about the foundation, applications to grants and how to donate, the charity can be contacted by email.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

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