Experts gather at UK Cyber Week to address neurodiversity

Over 2500 industry leaders to attend Olympia event on 17-18 April to tackle diversity and wellness as the skills crisis in cyber worsens  

• 15-20% of the UK population are neurodivergent

• More than half of those who self-report as neurodivergent have not disclosed their condition, with 64% of employers still having ‘little’ or ‘no’ understanding of neurodiverse conditions

• 59% of cybersecurity teams are understaffed as the cyber skills gap grew by 13% from 2022 to 2023 

• Key speakers at UK Cyber Week include: Marcus Hutchins, the Security Researcher who stopped WannaCry; Danni Brooke, Intelligence Expert and star of Channel 4’s Hunted; Stephanie Itimi, CEO of SEIDEA; and Rik Ferguson, VP Security Intelligence at Forescout Technologies and Special Advisor for Europol.

18th March 2024, United Kingdom: Global cybersecurity and IT leaders are gathering at the free-to- attend UK Cyber Week Expo & Conference in Olympia, London, on April 17-18 to debate some of the most pressing and prevalent issues currently impacting the UK cyber sector. 

Now in its second year, UK Cyber Week has placed neurodiversity and wellness in the sector top of the agenda, with its ‘Inclusive Cyber Space’ area, aiming to increase conversation and drive action to close diversity and equality gaps. 

The sector continues to face a damaging skills crisis, which experts believe could be tackled by creating a more diverse workforce. A study published in October 2023 revealed that the skills gap grew by 13% from 2022, equating to roughly four million cybersecurity professionals missing from the global workforce. Another report published by ISACA recently found that 59% of cybersecurity teams are understaffed.

Throughout the two-day UK Cyber Week event, organised by ROAR B2B, attendees will hear from some of the most well-renowned names in the industry including Ben Owen, Intelligence Expert and star of Channel 4’s Hunted and The Boss; Geoff White, Tech and Crime Author and Podcaster; Danni Brooke, Intelligence Expert and star of Channel 4’s Hunted; Christine Bejerasco, CISO at WithSecure; Stephanie Itimi, CEO of SEIDEA; Rik Ferguson, VP Security Intelligence at Forescout Technologies and Special Advisor for Europol; and Marcus Hutchins, the Security Researcher who stopped one of the world’s largest ever cyber-attacks, WannaCry.

Keynote speaker Charlie Rossi, Winner of ‘Undergraduate of the Year: Celebrating Neurodiverse Excellence 2023’, will give industry leaders insight into the barriers facing some from entering the cyber workforce, with her presentation, ‘Demographic Data: Barriers of my Success.’ 

It’s estimated that around 15-20% of the UK population is neurodiverse. Qualities shared by many neurodiverse people, such as hyperfocus, high levels of concentration and persistence and attention to patterns and repetition, are advantageous to tasks related to cyber protection. 

Charlie Rossi said: “As a student with both ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and ADHD, there have definitely been barriers to inclusion. After being named the Undergraduate of the Year last year, I was able to spend 10 weeks working at Rolls-Royce as part of my internship, which inspired me to pursue a career in cyber. I want to share at UK Cyber Week why there’s no one way to be neurodivergent. I’ve been able to challenge stereotypes about autism, and to shift the narrative, focusing my application on the positive aspects of my neurodivergence – the unique skill set and perspective it gives me to work within cybersecurity. I look forward to sharing my experiences and hearing those of others attending UK Cyber Week.”

Other panel discussions and keynotes in The Inclusive Cyber Space include:

• Daniel Olsen: CyberPsychology: The Battle of Your Attention

• Steph Aldridge: NeuroCyber, the UK’s cyber neurodiversity network – Panel discussion around NeuroCyber NeuroUnity Enablers with Dr Ashley Sweetman, Holly Foxcroft, Ed Tucker, Jade Eskenzi

• Louise Batty: Stott & May – Menopause in Cyber

Purvi Kay, Head of Cyber Security Governance, Risk and Compliance, BAE Systems, will also be running a session on the importance of tackling the diversity of cyber threats with an equally diverse cyber team.

Purvi added: “The cybersecurity industry is constantly evolving with new threats coming to the fore all the time. To tackle these diverse threats, we need diverse teams – and not just diversity of background or heritage, but diversity of thought. This is what a diverse workforce can offer the industry as it faces an ever-more dangerous and complex threat landscape.”

“Highlighting the need for broader diversity in the industry and the benefits neurodiversity can offer is critical. In a recent study, 92% of organisations reported to have skills gaps, and promoting diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives is a valuable way to address this growing concern”, continued Purvi. 

Bradley Maule-ffinch, Group Managing Director of ROAR B2B, added: “This year’s UK Cyber Week looks to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the cyber industry today. We want to encourage conversations between the sector’s leading voices to help address issues such as the lack of diversity in the workforce, and how the integration of neurodivergent professionals could help stem the growing cyber skills gap. 

“We’re delighted to be putting on an even better event than last year, with more visitors, more industry leaders, and more of a community atmosphere at a new bigger venue – Olympia London. We can’t wait for the doors to open and to welcome everyone in April!”

In partnership with ClubCISCO, ROAR B2B will also be launching a series of Quick-Fire Surveys. Consisting of 15 key questions, these surveys are designed to gain insights on the most topical issues driving the cybersecurity news agenda. 

UK Cyber Week is backed by government partners, including the National Cyber Crime Unit, the Department of Science, Innovation & Tech (DSIT), the National Crime Agency and the UK Defence & Security Exports (UKDSE). This year’s key exhibitors include Censornet, Culture AI, DigitalXRAID, Forescout Technologies, Sonicwall, and Threatlocker. 

To register for your free ticket to attend UK Cyber Week this year, visit the registration page here or to book a stand visit here. 

Bradley Maule ffinch

Bradley Maule ffinch is the Group Managing Director of ROAR. With over 20 years of leadership within the media and events industry across a variety of markets. Experience includes M&A, PE, turnarounds, integration, change management, launches and market analysis.

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