Women in Cybersecurity Middle East (WiCSME2020) concluded its first virtual conference successfully, with the theme "To Empower and Secure together, lately with more than 50 prominent regional and international speakers over two days, with 50 sessions including Keynote, panel discussions and conversation corners, which had a positive impact in raising awareness and sharing knowledge.
Basma Ahmadush, Co-founder and Leadership Member of WiCSME, and Cybersecurity Consultant in Saudi Arabia stated at conference 1st opening day, “In light of the rapid development witnessed by the whole world, and in conjunction with the challenges posed by the Corona pandemic, the need for cybersecurity has increased more than before.” And she said: “Women today at the international level represent less than a quarter of the workforce in this field, hence WiCSME keenness to ensure that its first conference is informative with updated information and exciting activities that related to cybersecurity that help to attract women in the region to this industry, and to empower them and connect them with international and regional thought leaders, and to help them to achieving their professional goals"
Dr. Reem Al-Shammari, Co-founder and Leadership Member of WiCSME, and Chief Information Security Officer at Kuwait Oil Company, indicated that the conference was designed from three axes, to serve the vision of WiCSME and its main goals, in order to empower women, and the axes are divided into: “The conference program, WiCSME2020 awards, and cyber adventure (CTF) ".
Regarding the conference program, Dr. Al-Shammari explained, "What has been done is an ideal program, as sisterhood call is implemented with more than 50 women from all over the world (sisterhood call), representing leaders, executives, academics and experts, who covered about 34 topics related to cybersecurity and the leadership skills”.
On first time ever WiCSME2020 awards, Ms. Abeer Khedr, Co-founder and Leadership Member of WiCSME, and Chief Information Security Officer at National Bank of Egypt, stated that “the aim to recognize the efforts and achievements of women pursuing cyber security careers in the region across 6 award categories. WiCSME wanted to highlight the achievements of women thought leaders and executives who are playing a vital role in promoting diversity by being a role model themselves and growing the industry through their efforts”. She added, “The awards aim as well to uncover the growing number of rising stars, representing the young aspiring new generation of cyber warriors as well as women cyber security heros who have special stories or a challenge and who have successfully persevered to succeed in spite of it. We also recognize consultants in the region, women who are professionally guiding organizations to improve their cyber security posture and last but not least, we recognize women community supporters, who are doing the extra mile and dedicating their time and effort to inspire, train and promote cyber security and diversity within the young generation”
Khedr added “30 women were selected as finalists from the large number of nominations received from 8 different countries in the region and 19 of which were recognized as the winners across the 6 categories by 12 international and regional judges who are experts and influencers in cyber security."
Priya Chatterjee, Co-founder and Leadership Member of WiCSME, and Director – Cybersecurity Services in Dubai, confirmed that “this event truly established an international platform for the women in Cybersecurity in Middle East. After this event, we have successfully shattered the myth around lack of women empowerment in the region. We believe and practice being empowered and secure together”
While Irene Corpuz, Co-founder and Leadership Member WiCSME, and Manger of projects HCT strategy & Future in Dubai, said: “"To see the inspiring women leaders in various parts of the world supporting us and cheering us on the first ever all-women conference was overwhelming. If there is one thing I learned from this experience, it is that what you give to your community goes back to you in multiple folds. WiCSME’s advocacy to empower, support and elevate the women in cyber security in the middle east may have inspired the rest of the global community, media, and other entities thus, made our event a huge success."
Regarding the axis of cyber adventure (Capture the Flag) competition, which was sponsored by the leading training organization in cybersecurity (SANS), and it lasted 30 continuous hours, punctuated by various cyber challenges, and Dr. Reem Al-Shammari confirmed that this competition provided an educational knowledge journey for cyber talents in which more than 600 young men and women have participated.
More than 40 volunteer women participated in organizing the activities of WiCSME2020 first virtual conference, and Ahmadush announced that the conference will be annually conference. She explained that WiCSME will establish “360 degree insights program” very soon in which women specialists will be hosted throughout the year, periodically, for sharing the knowledge and experiences of women specialists in Cybersecurity.
On behalf of her fellow Co-founders of WiCSME, Ahmadush thanked the sponsors of the conference, namely: Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), stc Group for their sponsorship of the WICSME 2020 Conference and Awards, SANS for sponsoring the Flag Capture Competition, ISC2 for sponsoring (Woman Cyber Security Rising Star) award category, and the marketing communication partner, W7 Worldwide for Strategic and Media Consulting.