Along with 700 others from the cybersecurity and information security industry I attended the 15th White Hall Ball at London’s Lancaster Hotel (31 January 2020). This annual fundraising even is about those that protect the world from cyber-attacks coming together to protect children. Each year it raises approximately £200,000 for charity which, along with the White Hat Marathon and White Hat Rally, amounts to almost £2 million raised over the 15 years it has been running – most notably for Childline services.

Childline, founded in 1986 by Dame Esther Rantzen, provides a free, private and confidential helpline for under 19s, becoming part of the services provided by the NSPCC in 2006.

At this year’s White Hat Ball, attendees were chaperoned by NSPCC volunteers who, along with hosts Peter Andre and Dame Esther Rantzen, gave up their Friday night to help raise money for the service. TV presenter Charlie Webster spoke movingly about her harrowing and ‘in-fear’ childhood to help attendees understand the importance of Childline to children at risk. Ms Webster has been candid about her own history of self-harming, which began due to family issues but intensified after she was sexually abused by her running coach as a teenager. She is now working to tighten up safeguarding laws in sport to protect future generations of children.

In simple terms, the annual White Hat Ball raises enough money each year to:

  • provide ‘Speak out, Stay Safe’ training to 66,600 childrern in 344 primary schools, giving them the skills to protect themselves from abuse
  • enable 50,000 trained volunteer counsellors to answer 400,000 calls to Childline, supporting and counselling children that need help
  • deliver 8,000 1-hour sessions of Pregnancy in Mind, which helps young parents with the ups and downs of having a baby
  • train 125 new Childline volunteers, including recruiting, training and supporting them.

A big thank you to all those organisations and individuls for the great conversations, as well as for sponsoring tables, pledging in the auctions or giving their time and support for this event. Including Admara, Alan Stockley, Barclay Simpson, BitSight, Blackthorn Trace, BP, Bridewell Consulting, BT, Mark Logsdon, Checkpoint, Childline, Crossword Cyber Security, Cybereason, Cybsafe, Cygenta, David Morgan, Deloitte, Eskenzi PR, Exonar, Extra Hop, EY, F-Secure, Garrison, Henderson Scott, HSBC, Huawei, Infosecurity Magazine, IronNet, White Hat Committee, KPMG, MSL, Nominet, Novacoast, Origin Comms, Protiviti, Prudential, Psybsec, Pulse Conferences, Qualys, RJMS Services, SDH Marketing, Sian John, Stephen Khan, Symantec, Telstra Purple, Via Resources, Women in Cyber, 1011vc and 2|Sec.

F-Secure’s EVP Tim Orchard kindly hosted me at his table this year. As the evening drew to a close he explained F-Secure’s involvement saying: “We’re honoured to support the NSPCC in their mission to safeguard some of the most vulnerable children in our society. We’re very pleased that this year’s White Hat ball was another success in fundraising for such an outstanding cause organised by the NSPCC for Childline.” A view no doubt echoed by all of us in the industry who participated.

Posted by Kevin Bailey

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