#Infosec2024: Charity Bridges Digital Divide and Fuels New Cyber Talent

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In the fight against the digital divide, one organization attending Infosecurity Europe 2024 isn't just offering solutions, they might also be nurturing the cybersecurity talent of tomorrow.

Every Child Online, a UK-based charity, are offering free IT asset disposal services at Infosecurity Europe. These assets are then refurbished and distributed via the charity to underprivileged children.

“The principal idea is that we want to make sure that every child has access to a device so that they can fulfill their potential in a what is now a very digital age,” said Mike Tarbard, Co-founder and CEO, Every Child Online in conversation with Infosecurity.

“We're talking about a child that might be the next music producer or the next movie producer. Or someone that wants to get into cybersecurity,” he said.

Bridging the Cybersecurity Skills Gap

Every Child Online isn’t just about delivering used devices to those in need, it also works with young people to train them in various IT roles.  

Mike Tarbard with students who are benefiting from Every Child Online (credit: Every Child Online)
Mike Tarbard with students who are benefiting from Every Child Online (credit: Every Child Online)

The charity invites college students who are doing work placements to help with the device refurbishment program. Tasks include upscaling the software with Windows 10, updating drives, fixing computers and adding RAM.

“What we aim to start to do is start to feed and partner with IT companies and have these students work in their offices during their work placements,” Tarbard explained.

With corporate partnerships, Tarbard hopes to create a feed of students through from college into the workforce.

“You are potentially going to have a child sat in front of you asking for a job that is better skilled because of your donations to us,” he said.

How Secure Asset Removal Works

Dropping off a device for disposal must be done in a secure way, and Every Child Online operates just as a professional IT asset disposal company would.

Once devices have been collected, the hard drives can either be wiped or destroyed. The charity uses industry-recognized software to complete data erasure on devices like mobile phones and tablets.

Similarly for computers and laptops, the charity uses a three-wipe-process to wipe hard drives and can wipe dozens of devices at a time.

“At Infosecurity Europe we will have machinery on site where we can destroy hard drives within three minutes of someone donating a device to us, we're going to do that for free,” he said.

“Alternatively, we'll put the devices in the vehicle, take them back to the to the facilities [at our office] in the evening after the show, and then we'll go through the wipe process then and supply wipes, wipe certificates, and then we get to use the hard drive again,” he said.

Call for Partners

As well as collecting devices, Tarbard hopes that Every Child Online’s presence at Infosecurity Europe will encourage companies to consider the charity as a partner for IT asset disposal.

“There is not an organization that wouldn't benefit from being a partner with us essentially and also benefit the community,” Tarbard said.

Visit Every Child Online at Stand A174 with your unwanted mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktops to help them close the digital divide. Register for Infosecurity Europe here.

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