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Supporting those who protect us

Harassment in IT security has been an issue for a long time. At last, an organisation is trying to do something to stop it.

As a novel start-up in a poorly-researched space, we needed to validate the problems Whirli is solving. Sapio Research were fantastic partners from start to finish – creative in brainstorming angles, careful in designing the questions, and rigorous in analysing the results. The research brought a wealth of insights, backed by hard figures, for our business decision making and for us to talk about publicly in the press.

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Earlier this year, we worked with Respect in Security to research the extent and awareness of harassment in the cybersecurity industry. Respect in Security’s initiative was launched in July this year with the goal of tackling both online and in-person harassment in this industry, and to encourage organisations to formally pledge to end harassment in their workplaces.  

302 cybersecurity professionals were surveyed to shed light on the issue – of which, we discovered, over a third had personally experienced in-person harassment. 

Harassment in IT security has been an issue for a long time: Vice’s Motherboard reported on sexual harassment at US security and hacking conferences in 2016, noting the difficulty of reporting incidents and thus measuring the extent of the problem. Of our UK respondents, 36% of those who had experienced offline harassment said that it took place at industry events.  

More recently – July this year – a female cybersecurity professional was harassed on Twitter after posting a photo of herself in a bikini, which was followed by a wave of support from fellow cybersecurity professionals posting photos in solidarity. Respect in Security’s co-founder, Marc Avery, mentions an incident in Teiss, illuminating both the need for the initiative and the brighter side of the story: that with awareness, the community rallies against abuse and harassment.  

Respect in Security’s launch, and the findings, were reported on many websites, including Forbes and the BBC. As of November, dozens of organisations have already signed the pledge – already exceeding their goal of 50 by the end of this year. And Respect in Security has big plans for the future: an advisory board with members from all over the world and public community sessions for feedback and discussion. 

It’s been a pleasure for us to be a part of the beginning of this important initiative, and we hope to see them go far!  

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