August 30, 2020 1 By Kathlyne Chepkirui

Have you ever in your life not been certain of what you want to pursue? This is yet another one of that kind Founder of SheHacks Kenya who wasn’t actually sure of what she wanted to pursue until in her 3rd year in Daystar University persuing Computer Science when she realized she actually had passion for cyber security. Follow her story as I catch up with her to get to know her full story. An elaborate example of no human is limited.

Who is Laura Tich

I am Laura Tich, a cyber security professional, passionate about community building and creating spaces for women in the technology field, especially in information security. I am also an advocate for internet freedom and I have worked with civil societies across Africa to provide knowledge and skills in digital security.

How did you get to join the cyber security industry?

I majored in Applied Computer Science in college. We mostly did coding but I wasn’t sure that was the path I wanted to take. In my 3rd year of college, I started researching more on cyber security and tried to build a foundation for myself in the field. I was lucky enough to have found mentors who guided me through the process as I was trying to gain foundational skills. Once I got the foundation, I decided that this is the career I want to pursue and started building my skills more.

What’s your experience in cyber security in Kenya

It has definitely been a journey for me. Cyber security is still a very young field in Kenya and in the continent in general. So far there are only 2 colleges in Kenya, both of which are private, offering certified courses around cyber security. This shows how inaccessible cyber security resources and training are in the region. Thankfully there are a number of communities which have been created to encourage members by sharing knowledge and skills for the betterment of the industry. We also have conferences that have been created to encourage and nurture more talent across the region.

What would you term as your notable successes?

I have been lucky to take part in a number of successful projects and events. I’ve attended the DefCon conference in Las Vegas which is the biggest cyber security event and undoubtedly one of the most coveted ones. I have also just recently been nominated as one for the top 50 women in cyber security in Africa which is a great feat. This year, my colleague and I will be the first Kenyans (and I think the first East Africans) to speak at the Black Hat USA conference which is held in Las Vegas annually but will be fully virtual this year thanks to Covid19. I have also built one of the biggest communities of women hackers in Africa.

Tell us what Shehacks_KE entails

Shehacks_KE is a community of women in cyber security in Kenya. The community brings together learners and experts from different backgrounds and counties across the country. I founded it alongside Eve Kilel in 2016 as a third year student. This was just months after I became an active member in the cyber security scene in Kenya.
The inspiration behind Shehacks was the lack of women representation in the field. We did have a number of women who were already working in cyber security but they were always sidelined from major events and conversations. We saw the need to create a platform where women would have a voice.
We have different programs meant to upskill our members and encourage knowledge sharing. The programs include; bootcamps, campus outreach, webinars and fireside hacks. We also have a bigger event which we started last year called HackFest. We plan to make HackFest an annual event.

How Covid 19 impacted Shehacks activities?

I believe covid19 has been a blessing in disguise. Normally, we’d hold month bootcamps but since the pandemic, we’ve been able to hold weekly ‘e-Bootcamps’ which are online training. Thanks to technology, we are able to do most of our work and activities virtually which is great for us!

Your advice to anyone interested in a career in cyber security

Don’t be afraid to venture into this new horizon. Join a community, find a mentor and keep an open mind. You can do it!