KMCC Launches with Valentine’s Day Event at University of Kent 

The 14th February, the 2024 Valentine’s Day, marked a significant milestone for the cyber security community in Kent and Medway, with the official launch of the Kent & Medway Cyber Cluster (KMCC) at the University of Kent in Canterbury. The event aimed to encourage participants to develop interest and awareness in cyber security while providing clear insights into cyber security career opportunities and also to online threats such as cyber fraud.

A ChatGPT-generated image shown at the KMCC launch event.

The event, which saw a packed venue, proved to be a melting pot of ideas and expertise. Participants were offered a diverse program including presentations, panel discussions, and networking sessions. An array of industry experts, university students, employers, recruiters, and researchers attended.

Some moments captured during the event.

The launch event commenced with a warm welcome from Clare Patterson, Director and CFO of KMCC. Clare outlined the organisation’s aims and its role within the broader landscape of cyber security initiatives in the UK. KMCC is the local cyber security cluster officially recognised by the UKC3 (UK Cyber Cluster Collaboration), the DSIT-funded national body coordinating and supporting all local cyber security clusters.

Clare Patterson, Director and CFO of KMCC, giving the opening speech.

Clare’s opening speech was followed by the congratulatory video recording from Linda Smith, Chair of the Board of the UKC3, introducing all local cyber security clusters in the UK and highlighting the importance of collaborative efforts in the field.

Linda Smith explaining the aims of UKC3 and all the local clusters.

A highlight of the event was Jason Steer’s presentation on romance scams and other forms of cyber fraud. Steer, a seasoned cyber security veteran and the CISO of  Recorded Future, shed light on the intricacies of cybercrime and provided insights into prevention strategies.

Jason Steer presenting the intricacies of romance scams. 

Following Jason Steer’s talk, Chris Buckingham from the City of London Police introduced the work of Action Fraud, the reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime run by the City of London Police, working alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). Chris discussed some useful and interesting statistics about cyber fraud in South East England, offering real-world examples and emphasised the importance of reporting fraud to the authorities.

Chris Buckingham from City of London Police on the day-to-day realities of dealing with cyber fraud.

In a panel discussion following Chris Buckingham’s talk, participants delved into the essential skills required for a successful career in cyber security. Led by industry experts Molly DavisLucy Maclaren, and Anka Moraru, the conversation, facilitated by Clare Patterson, illuminated the diverse skill set needed to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. From technical expertise to critical thinking and communication skills, the panel underscored the multifaceted nature of cyber security roles. Audience engagement was strong as attendees sought various advice on skills development and career pathways and highlighted the event’s value in empowering aspiring cyber security professionals.

Panel discussion on “Careers in Cyber Security: What Skills are Needed?”

In a second panel discussion, attendees heard inspiring career anecdotes from cyber security professionals Nikhil Kamboj and Richard Starnes. Facilitated by KMCC COO Chris Solomon, the session offered a glimpse into the diverse pathways that can lead to success in the field. From founding start-ups to leading cyber security initiatives, each story served as a testament to the myriad opportunities available within the cyber security domain. Audience members were captivated by the speakers’ journeys, leaving the discussion with renewed enthusiasm and a deeper understanding of the possibilities within the cyber security industry.

Career stories with Richard StarnesNikhil Kamboj and Dr Chris Solomon (facilitator).

The event was concluded by Professor Shujun Li, Chair of KMCC’s Steering Group and Professor of Cyber Security and Director of the Institute of Cyber Security for Society (iCSS) at the University of Kent. Professor Li called participants to consider joining KMCC as members to co-develop the local cyber security ecosystem. He also introduced members of the Steering Group, and those who attended the event introduced themselves briefly to the other participants: Dr Budi Arief of the University of Kent, Professor Gareth Howells of the University of Essex, David Timms of CAFBank, and Robert Winter of Cloud21 Ltd. Professor Li also informed the participants about the various ongoing projects of KMCC: the CyberAnything Competition, the recently established KMCSN (Kent & Medway CyberSchools Network), and the ISC2-iCSS-KMCC 1MCC campaign for promoting ISC2’s new CC certification for cyber security beginners. In his concluding remarks, Professor Li thanked all speakers and participants for making the event a great success, the event’s sponsors – Recorded Future and iCSS, the supporting body KMCS3 (Kent & Medway Cyber Security Student Society), and all local helpers and organisers for their hard work in making the event possible.

Professor Shujun Li introducing members of KMCC’s Steering Group in his concluding remarks.

While unable to attend the event, heartfelt thanks also go to other members of KMCC’s Steering Group, Rebecca Avery, Training and Development Manager and Strategic Online Safety Lead for the Education Safeguarding Service at the Kent County Council, Boade Babarinde, AVP and Data & Information Security Manager at Bank of China, UKJason Cordingley, Cyber Security Engineer at Thales UK, and Vanessa Henneker, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the UK Cyber Security Council. This diverse and dedicated group will help ensure effective governance and strategic direction for all of KMCC’s initiatives and endeavours.

Snapshots of student helpers, organisers, and attendees during the event.

A video showing some of the selected moments of the event can be found below, which can also be watched on our YouTube channel. Special thanks to Brittani Guerra from the UKC3 for producing the video for KMCC and for attending the event to provide us with marketing support.

KMCC launch event on 14 Feb 2024 Valentine’s Day

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