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Competition to strengthen cyber security shows a bright future for women 

A global competition to find new ideas for improving cyber security and resilience has found both innovation and diversity are flourishing in next generation of cyber experts.

The four finalists in this prestigious competition are all women, whose winning ideas were:

  • Introducing anonymous digital identities to improve cyber security
  • Ways to test and measure resilience when under attack
  • A scheme to enhance security through collaboration
  • Proposals for greater bespoke protection for the global traffic in digital information.

The ideas will be unveiled in full at the Global Resilience Summit in London on October 15.

Left to right: Marcilla Silva Pena; Shanice Seale; Sofia Olofsson; and Tanyisha Edwards

The competition was created by London First’s Security and Resilience Network and the social enterprise Common Purpose. They teamed up to challenge future leaders to suggest ways to increase cyber resilience, to increase understanding of the topic among a global network of young leaders. The challenge was also aimed at producing ideas that can be developed for practical use by companies and organisations to have an immediate improvement in the security of data and devices.

The challenge posed the question: “How can we ensure cyber resilience in an increasingly connected world?” to the Common Purpose global network of alumni. Over ten weeks, 40 participants explored ideas ranging across many of the major trends and developments in cyber. Submissions came from across the world including Barbados, Canada, India, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, UAE and the UK.

Expert guidance was offered through group sessions throughout the challenge from Curtis Baron at KPMG, Robert Hall at London First and Charles Ewen from the UK’s Met Office. This helped participants explore the challenge question by understanding some of the biggest frustrations faced by organisations and individuals.

Participants worked together to submit ideas on the Massive Online Innovation Community (MOIC) which were then refined through peer consultation and coaching sessions, with four finalists selected.

Robert Hall, Director of the London First Security and Resilience Network, said: “In an era of unparalleled technological change, the cyber environment is driving social development and fuelling economic growth. This presents a fantastic set of opportunities but it also brings challenges, particularly around security and resilience.

“This cyber challenge has provided real insight that organisations can use today to help protect themselves. Just as importantly, it has shown there is a wealth of ideas from the next generation to tackle these problems and that the future of resilience and cyber security is going to be in excellent hands.”

Garvey Chui, Innovation Director at Common Purpose, said: “The challenge with London First on cyber resiliency was an important one for us.

“It required our participants to really think hard on the pros and cons that technology advancements have brought to our personal and organisational lives. It emphasised the need for all of us to continue dialogue around what cyber resiliency means when we balance it around convenience, safety and privacy.

“These topics are top of mind at Common Purpose. We’re very proud of the ideas that have come out from the MOIC and want to acknowledge how insightful it was for the winners to focus their ideas on education and human behaviour, and not just technology in itself.”

The finalists are:


Tanyisha Edwards, a leadership and management graduate based in Trinidad & Tobago, suggested introducing a digital anonymous identity which allows you to choose which of your online accounts are linked. This identity would be tracked similar to bank accounts and customers would be alerted when unusual activity occurs. The Anodentity would be used in place of real details.

Practise Resilience, Measure Resilience

Marcilla Silva Pena, an engineering student from Brazil, proposed a process to measure and improve staff knowledge of cyber risk and threats. This involves surveying staff on cyber risks and responding with tailored training sessions.

Learning Teams

Shanice Seale, a law student from Barbados, put forward creating learning teams of junior and senior associates. This would involve a weekly learning session where team members tackle virtual scenarios such as data breaches and system attacks, followed by a competency test to measure staff development.

Importance of Anonymity

Fulbright scholar Sofia Magdalena Olofsson holds a Master’s degree in Security Studies. Her idea involved a three-pronged approach to boost cyber resilience: first, putting an onus on companies to make it clearer to customers how digital information is protected; secondly, a premium protection plan for digital accounts provided at a cost, and thirdly a time limit on online data storage with a safety verification logo developed with the iRights campaign for company websites.

Their ideas will continue to be developed through the MOIC.

The Global Resilience Summit is at Kings Place, London, and features speakers including Jamie Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary General of NATO; Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol; John Miller, Deputy Commissioner NYPD; and Dr Pippa Malgrem, world renowned geopolitical economist and former presidential advisor.  

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