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Help the Children, Have Some Fun: the “White Hats” of UK’s Information Security Community

February 8, 2010

We here at Launchpad Europe love a good cause. Especially a techie good cause.

Our attention was recently drawn to a group called White Hat Events, a not-for-profit organisation made up of information security professionals dedicated to giving something back to the community.

For readers who aren’t familiar with the term “white hat,” the organisation describes the logic behind its name as follows:

“In old cowboy films, the bad men wore black hats and the good guys wore white. In the age of the Internet, the ‘black hats’ are those people who write computer viruses and try to engage in computer-based crime. The information security profession works to prevent those people from achieving their evil aims – hence we are the ‘white hats.’”

Supporters of White Hat Events are “white hats” in more than just the infosecurity sense.

This January, White Hat Events held its fifth-annual White Hat Ball, which raised over £90,000 (!) for NSPCC and ChildLine, the UK’s 24-hour child helpline.

Stephen Bonner, a White Hat Events committee member who hosted the event this year, told us the most identifiable trait of White Hat Events is that they are relaxed.

“The White Hat Ball is kind of a ‘time-out’ for information security professionals to come together to do something good for the world, while having a great time doing it,” Bonner told the Launchpad team. “There isn’t the stress, tension and competitiveness you get at some other industry events—everyone just has fun.”

Bonner went on to say the White Hat Ball has a “real warmth” and “quirkiness of spirit” that is difficult to reproduce at any other information security industry event.

So, to summarize: the White Hat Ball is an opportunity to help children in desperate need while mingling with the “white hats” of the information security community when they are in a particularly good mood.

Sounds great to us!

To learn more about White Hat Events, visit http://whitehatevents.org

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