HackFest 2019: Microsoft Is Encouraging Women To Embrace Careers In Cyber Security

From left, Microsoft East Africa Country Manager Sebu Haileleul, SheHacks Co founders, Laura Tich and Evelyn Kilel with Microsoft's General Manager Engineering , Hayden Hainsworth. Picture courtesy Microsoft

Kenya has been constantly praised as one of the countries with the best internet connectivity in Africa. With over 43 million people having access to the internet this explains why the environment continues to attract investors who want to tap into the opportunities this broadband market offers. At this year’s HackFest 2019 held at Strathmore Business School, Microsoft through the Cloud and AI Security Engineering team reinforced why more women and the youth need to embrace opportunities in security engineering.

Speaking at the HackFest hackathon, SheHacks founders Evelyn Kilel and Laura Tich explained that there’s a huge gap between the number of women vs the men in technology. Needless to say, the industry is still growing and so is the demand which cannot match up to the supply. That is unless more women take up more roles in technology.

This claim was backed by Hayden Hainsworth, the General Manager for Cybersecurity Engineering at Microsoft who has been in the cybersecurity for 25 years.

From left, Microsoft East Africa Country Manager Sebu Haileleul, SheHacks Co-founders, Laura Tich and Evelyn Kilel with Microsoft’s General Manager Engineering, Hayden Hainsworth. Picture courtesy – Microsoft

Hainsworth highlighted that she has witnessed the shortage of women the tech space especially in cybersecurity engineering, which is estimated to have around 2 million open opportunities by 2020.


“My mission is geared towards empowering our customers and partners while creating paths for women to take up more roles in cybersecurity here in Africa,” Hainsworth says.

With a vast number of internet users across the country, there’s a need to develop skill and competence in tackling cyber threats. Considering that the tech ecosystem is rapidly evolving inadequate cybersecurity measures can turn Kenya into a lucrative target for cybercriminals. How to secure your online accounts. 

In 2016, 82,000 cyber incidents in the global organization were recorded. Of this 225 organisations were impacted daily costing 4 million per breach. In 2018 the number rose to half a billion users worldwide who became victims of phishing. As Pratik Roy Modern Workplace and Security Business Group Lead for Microsoft noted, an acceleration of digitalization comes insecure consumer habits.

8 ways of keeping safe while using public Wifi hotspots. 

This coupled with the lack of awareness, knowledge or skill set in cybersecurity measures and solutions could render more financial losses as individuals/companies try to save face or repair the damages caused. Hence the importance of strategic partnerships such as Microsoft and She Hacks.

More on: Cybercrime in Kenya, how to protect yourself against threats on the internet.

Through the HackFest hackathon, this collaboration provides a platform that creates awareness in this sector as well as empowers more youths to embrace the most urgent and needed skills in cybersecurity.

In the words of Pratik Roy, not only can individuals have a lifetime fulfilling career by taking up the different roles in cybersecurity but such pool of skilled talent could attract more investors/ business in the country, thus accelerating digital success in Africa.

Technology: The one cybersecurity risk no one is thinking about. 

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