Candid chat with #SheHacks founder, Laura Tich

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Laura’s daily life might not play like a movie, but her opportunities come close.


  • There are instances where companies seek out  her services, requesting her to hack into their systems and identify any vulnerabilities, then offer solutions.


  • Before long, they could view every patron’s online activity. A lady sending a work email, a man casually browsing through his bank account statements, another one trying to log onto their Twitter account.

In December 2021, Laura Tich had a reason to celebrate. At just 28, she had been named in the list of Business Daily’s Top 40 Under 40 Women.

Hers has been quite a journey. She is the founder of SheHacks_KE, a platform for women cyber security professionals and enthusiasts in Kenya. She is also a Mozilla Open Leader, and an advocate for internet freedom, having worked on various projects involving digital rights across Africa.

Her journey started when she was in third year at Daystar University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in applied computer science.

“While in college, I began my research on cyber security in a bid to establish a footing in that field. I was lucky find mentors who guided me as I was trying to gain basic skills. In the process, I felt convinced that I wanted a career in the cyber security realm so I began to acquire even more skills.”

Shehacks_KE brings together learners and experts from different backgrounds and counties across the country. “I founded it in my third year alongside Eve Kilel in 2016. This was just months after I became an active member in the local cyber security scene.”

She says that she was inspired to start the organisation after observing that women lacked adequate representation in that field.

“We did have women already working in cyber security, but they were always sidelined from major events and conversations. We wanted to create a platform where women would have a strong voice.”

The organisation has different programmes to build capacity among members and encourage knowledge sharing. The programmes include boot camps, campus outreach initiatives, webinars and fireside chats. We also have a bigger event which we started last year called HackFest which will soon be an annual event.”

The first Hackfest in 2019 hosted more than 300 young women from across Kenya and brought together learners and experts to share knowledge and experiences.

“I have been lucky to take part in several projects and events. I’ve attended the DefCon conference in Las Vegas, which is the biggest and most coveted cyber security event in the world. I was also recently nominated as one of the top 50 women in cyber security in Africa.”

Laura says that little research has been done in Sub-Saharan Africa on cyber security.

“In Kenya, for example, our mobile money industry has attracted a lot of interest worldwide with many trying to emulate it, so our cyber threats always occur around FinTech and other technologies.

“Most of those we work with are beginners but we have a few individuals who have developed tools that specifically address the needs of the region.”

Laura says that the field of cyber security in Kenya and Africa is still growing.

“So far there are only two colleges in Kenya that offer certified cyber security courses, and both are private. This shows how inaccessible cyber security resources and training is in the region.

Laura’s daily life might not play like a movie, but her opportunities come close. There are instances where companies seek out  her services, requesting her to hack into their systems and identify any vulnerabilities, then offer solutions.

One day Tich and her friends were catching up at a restaurant when the group, all in the cybersecurity field, decided to perform a wild experiment – hack into the restaurant’s free WiFi.

Before long, they could view every patron’s online activity. A lady sending a work email, a man casually browsing through his bank account statements, another one trying to log onto their Twitter account.

“You just create an evil twin,” she says giggling. “You set up a fake WiFi network with a name similar to a legitimate WiFi access point. Unsuspecting internet users will connect to the illegitimate WiFi network, enabling the hacker to steal credentials and manipulate the content on one’s devices.

“A rogue WiFi network gives cybercriminals and identity thieves easy access to monitor your online moves, steal personal information and passwords. Further, hackers can use unsecured WiFi to distribute malware to surrounding devices which can disrupt business operations,” she says.

Laura explains that she did the experiment simply to test the vulnerability of public Wifi systems. There was no malicious intent.

Covid-19 has greatly impacted Laura’s activities, but it has also been a blessing in disguise.

“Normally, we’d hold monthly boot camps but since 2020, we’ve only held trainings online. Thanks to technology, we are able to do most of our work and activities virtually which is great for us!”

She advises anyone interested in a career in cyber security to be courageous. “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!”

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