Slalom Hacktober: Cybersecurity is no game... but learning about it can be!
Hacktober is a build-your-own-adventure, gamified learning platform that empowers Slalom team members to protect their customers, our company, and each other.
While cybersecurity is a critical aspect of modern business operations, getting team members excited about it is no easy feat. At Slalom, we’ve been where many companies find themselves—struggling with how to engage team members to learn about the most recent cybersecurity best practices that protect businesses and individuals.
Instead of settling for a traditional training program, the Slalom Information Security (InfoSec) team got creative and launched our very own gamified cybersecurity program. Hacktober is a dynamic experience designed to inform and inspire our people, while strengthening our information security. The success of Hacktober has led us to believe that it might just be the remedy other companies are seeking.
Empowering security excellence
Hacktober isn’t your typical cybersecurity training program. It's a gamified experience launched annually in October─during Cybersecurity Awareness Month in many countries including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand─that empowers team members to build their own learning adventure.
No more mundane lectures or mind-numbing modules. Hacktober participants have the opportunity to earn points by engaging in various activities designed to enhance cybersecurity awareness and security excellence. Points are earned for these activities, which include attending TED-style talks, answering daily questions, participating in hackathons, and joining virtual scavenger hunts to identify security issues.
As the month draws to a close, the top 10 winners overall and the top three participants in each market have the chance to win prizes. Simply put, our people become heroes, keeping businesses and individuals safe in what can often be the scary and spooky topic of cybersecurity.
Investing in InfoSec: The Slalom way
At Slalom, information security is woven into our business practices; it’s not just a checkbox. Our commitment to a secure digital landscape informs substantial investments in InfoSec technology and training. Through our strategic priority of “Delivery Excellence and Security,” InfoSec innovation benefits our operations and lets our customers know they can trust us.
“Our commitment to innovation, like Hacktober, reinforces our focus on building a culture of security, and fuels the curiosity of our clients," says Christopher Burger, Slalom’s vice president of Information Security & Governance.
Hacktober informs our cybersecurity efforts year-round as we work with our business and employee resource groups (ERG) to continue the dialogue. In 2022, our employees dedicated over 2,000 hours to bring what they learned to life—and that means quicker reactions to stop data breaches, phishing attempts, password thefts, and other threats.
Hacktober also perfectly aligns with our broader goals of nurturing our people, culture, and values; strengthening how we work together; and, perhaps most importantly, striving for delivery excellence and security. The Slalom way.
From inception to inspiration
Hacktober was sparked by the passion and excitement of Slalom’s technical program manager of security and risk management, Reedhima Mandlik, and a team of security-minded volunteers.
“I pitched this idea of building awareness in a fun way, aligned with what was becoming the international momentum of celebrating cybersecurity awareness,” says Reedhima. “I like building products, so I got together a group of folks who I knew loved working in technology education and asked if they wanted to help.”
Fast forward to today, it's become an integral part of our company culture and required skill-building. And with the sponsorship and passion of our Women in Tech and InfoSec teams, the evolution of Hacktober continues.
What’s that about artificial intelligence?
We recognize the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and its possible impact to safeguarding information.
For 2023, our Hacktober is embracing generative AI challenges and solutions. We're tapping into the power of AI to drive even higher engagement among our employees, ensuring they stay ahead of the cybersecurity curve. For instance, the addition of a ChatGPT AI assistant enhances—dare we say, makes more challenging—our code hunt game.
“It's like a Jeopardy-style game that helps colleagues, especially those new to coding, navigate questions about operating system vulnerabilities,” says Reedhima. “Team members can ask our configured version of ChatGPT for guidance, learn how to answer questions, and even discover what not to ask.”
We’re also delving into AI's role in art with a feature called “Spot the Fake.” This feature challenges our team members to distinguish between AI-generated and human-made visuals. Team members earn points by getting it right, while broadening their AI literacy in a fun and engaging way.
Securing the future
In an era where cybersecurity's importance has reached new heights, trainings like Hacktober stand as a symbol of innovation, engagement, and empowerment. It goes beyond the protection of our data—it's about securing our future, and that of companies around the world.
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