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Cybershikshaa: Microsoft, DSCI’s 3-year programme to educate women on cybersecurity

With an intent to bolster the cybersecurity ecosystem in the country, MicrosoftIndia and Data Security Council of India (DSCI) have launched a new programme called CyberShikshaa. The three-year programme will create a robust pool of skilled women professionals in the country. The initiative, which is supported by the ministry of information technology’s Information Security Education & Awareness (ISEA) programme, looks at offering women skills in cyber security that will help them not just upgrade their skills, but also make them stay safe online.

CyberShikshaa looks at recognising the growing potential of cybersecurity as a sunrise segment and the need for a large base of diverse industry-ready talent. The programme was launched in the national capital this week. As part of CyberShikshaa, 1,000 women from under-served communities will be trained across the country and offered employment opportunities. The programme is open to women science graduates between the ages of 20 and 27 years, and the first phase of the programme has been rolled out in Noida, Patna, Hyderabad and Mohali.

The initiative has been conceptualised to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures. It is not just an awareness programme on the importance of cybersecurity, but will also train participants on the best practices to ensure cyber safety and how to work with cybersecurity health tool kits to manage and mitigate cyber threats. The CyberShikshaa curriculum will be an interactive module with a combination of theory, case studies and practical hands-on projects managed by a group of training partners led by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC). The programme will cover multiple locations, from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi-NCR, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra to Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Telangana.

On the launch of the programme, Prakash Sawhney, secretary, ministry of electronics and IT, said, “Bridging the skill gap in the niche domain of cybersecurity is a national imperative. There has been an increased participation from industry, government and academia to develop cybersecurity skills required for India. This programme embarked upon by the DSCI and Microsoft is aligned with the ministry’s ISEA programme and will not only provide impetus to bridging the skill gap, but will also help draw more women into the cybersecurity domain.”

According to a 2013 report by research firm Frost and Sullivan, women make up 11% of the global cybersecurity workforce. Though, over the years, there has been a substantial rise in the number of women in the cybersecurity field, yet the number still remains abysmal. So Microsoft is specifically looking at encouraging more female workforce into this field. Anant Maheshwari, president of Microsoft India, stresses on the need for an enhanced cybersecurity infrastructure and advanced security solutions for digital India. “India is fast emerging as a prime destination for offshore cybersecurity R&D and security operations centres. This will lead to the next wave of jobs—one we must be ready for with a skilled workforce,” he says, while emphasising on how CyberShikshaa will empower women technologists through growth-driven livelihood