W0m3nWh0HackM3lb0urn3 is a safe space for women who are keen to learn to ethically hack. We are a community of women identified hackers who support each other to increase our skills and hack all the (legal) things.

Why?

There’s a worldwide shortage of skilled cyber security professionals and there’s a massive lack of women in the industry too. Depending on the statistics you look to, both locally here in Australia and globally, women either represent 11%  of cyber security workers according to a University of New South Wales Study, or 20% to 25% according to Cybersecurity Ventures and McAfee respectively, if you count those who do what are considered cyber security tasks more broadly.

W0m3nWh0HackM3lb0urn3 wants to change this lack of representation and needs you to make it happen. Come and join us every 1st Thursday night of the month in Melbourne from 5:30pm – 9:00pm and you can learn to hack into machines legally and not end up on the 5pm news. Hacking is challenging, it’s a massive learning curve but it’s also super rewarding. You are quite literally learning how to get into systems and dump databases in order to one day teach businesses what to do to make their websites, applications and networks safer.

If you want to change the world, which for most of us encompasses the digital world, learning the skills to become a penetration tester, otherwise known as, an ethical hacker, is one real and concrete way to do it. I follow in the footsteps of brilliant women hackers who have opened doors for me to learn hacking, Esther Lim and Pamela O’Shea. Esther ran a hacking group to train women who wanted to compete in the university cyber security challenge (cySCA) which was my first real taste of hacking culture. Pam ran a web application penetration testing workshop I attended as part of the 0xCC training conference for women which is where the idea for W0m3nWh0HackM3lb0urn3 was born.

But also

I established W0m3nWh0HackM3lb0urn3 because I wanted a crew of hackers to hack with in real-life and not just over the internet. I wanted face-to-face connection and to learn quickly with people who could explain every step of why we’re running this command and using this program so I could understand deeply and that’s what W0m3nWh0HackM3lb0urn3 enables. I’ve got a history as a Social Anthropologist who loved teaching and what I learned from that experience is the best way to really comprehend something is to be able to explain it to someone else and we really encourage that way of learning in our sessions.

What do you do in your sessions?

We use a platform called Hack The Box which has lots of different vulnerable systems packaged up that we can choose in order to attack. We pick one each couple of months and go through a step by step process of learning how to hack into it, get into accounts that we shouldn’t have access to, accessing passwords we shouldn’t have knowledge of and finally taking full control of the system by getting what is called “root” or full privilege access.   

How do I sign up?

Our next session is Thursday 5 September from 5:30 – 9pm in Melbourne’s CBD. Get in touch with me, Brigitte Lewis on Twitter @briglewis for an invite to our Slack channel and the location. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or have been taking down boxes for years. W3 W@NT Y0U! LGBTI friends and allies very welcome. Please BYO Dinner, VirtualBox and Kali VM.  

Want more data?

Women in Cyber Security Literature Review (2017)
https://www.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/cyber-security-literature-review.pdf
Women Represent 20 Percent Of The Global Cybersecurity Workforce In 2019 (2019)
https://cybersecurityventures.com/women-in-cybersecurity/
Cybersecurity Talent Study (2018)
https://www.mcafee.com/enterprise/en-au/assets/reports/rp-cybersecurity-talent-study.pdf

Originally published by the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN).

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