Funmipe Olofinlade is a young security entrepreneur who knows what he wants and how to get it.
Funmipe heads SOC Esentry Systems Limited and is a PhD level researcher on cybersecurity at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA).
His security journey started when he saw a movie named ’24’.
“I wanted to be like Chloe O’Brien and that was how I started. My first search was Chloe’s role and how to attain it. Basically, I literarily typed, ‘How do I become like Chloe?’ I discovered that I needed an understanding of programming. So, I started from writing codes (Visual basic and c). Then, I also needed a bit of networking knowledge. So, in my 200 level, I had the CCNA. In my internship 400 level, I found out that I needed to know how operating systems, server and infrastructure worked,” he recalls.
Funmipe delved into server management and administration and, in his final year at FUTA, he majored in Nose Biometrics.
In 2011, he majored in Information Security as there was no academic course available for him.
“Biometrics was the closest,” he says.
“Then by the grace of God, in my quest to learn more, I got a rare opportunity to study Communications and Computer Security in France, which was co-organised by Telecom Paris Tech/Instutut Eurecom. There and then was I exposed to the world of security. I had an in-depth knowledge of cybersecurity and exploitations.”
There was no job for him when he returned to Nigeria as a security professional. This was because the only job out there then was applications development.
“My first interview was as a java developer. I could write codes very well, but I was not enthusiastic about it. I wanted to put my skills and passion to work . I wanted an information security role. I did not take the job. Instead, I opted to become a visiting researcher at my alma-mater. I was working on cloud computing security and cryptographic protocols. I was not paid though, but I loved it. I would travel Mondays to help out in research. I did that for a while and at some point, I felt that Nigeria was not mature for my skills. So, I decided to make my final journey out of the country and never to return. I said to myself, ‘If I would take a development role, I would rather do it out of Nigeria’. It was at the embassy that I met my first information security employer, who currently is the MD/CEO of Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola. It just happened by chance. I was planning to travel out and he was also traveling to France. I started a conversation with him. I was actually trying to help a good-looking man looking for French application stand and there we got talking about IT security, my passion and why I was leaving,” he recounts.
He says Olugbenga saw his passion and believed, giving him an opportunity to express himself.
He started working for him on projects and pen-testing applications. The young entrepreneur decided to conduct an independent research on financial fraud in transactions with two eminent persons, which would eventually lead to a PhD degree.
Two years after, his research was noticed by Esentry Systems Limited, a new MSSP in Nigeria offering security services.
He discussed this with his boss, who surprisingly gave his blessings.
“I assumed the role of a lead researcher and the head of security operations center at Esentry Systems Ltd, where I have been able to proffer consulting services from industrial and research perspective. This has been my journey so far,” he narrates.
How has he been coping combining academic activities and job?
He says it has not been easy. However, he is coping because he has a goal.
“I have a goal to be a world-class researcher with a wealth of industrial experience. So, it means that while I am aiming at attaining the peak of an academic degree in information security, I also want to be a world-class professional with a lot of industrial experience and certifications. I want to be relevant in both worlds. It has been very difficult and I could have done it anywhere else in the world but Nigeria gives me the opportunity to be able to move and shuttle in-between the academia and the industry which I really do not think it would be easy for me to combine if I am outside the country. It has not been easy but I’ve been able to put it together thus far.”
He says there are many opportunities in cybersecurity.
For him, it is a green area, where a lot of knowledge gap exists.
“So, there are a lot of opportunities here. Lately on the globe, there are lots of cyber-attacks on different sectors, so we need more professionals now than before.”
He says that Esentry Systems Limited has the vision to pioneer the maturity of cybersecurity research and development in Nigeria and in Africa.
The firm aims to be the first and the leading MSSP in Africa, with an eye on grooming talents and giving students early exposure to cybersecurity, which people like him never had.
“So in the nearest future, we want to be a point of reference for the government in terms of research, forensic investigations, cyber -defence and development of solutions that solve indigenous cybersecurity problems,” he says.
What is the significance of the cybersecurity lab to the growth of Nigeria’s cybersecurity Industry?
He says it will generate more professionals grounded in IT security from Nigerian Institutions.
“Students would have the option to stay in the country to earn a qualitative degree in cyber security thanks to the lab,” he says.
“The awareness level at the institutions is still low and these are the future. FUTA is among the very few federal universities that will be offering cybersecurity as a degree. So, it is still as its infancy. However, it is on the rise. We hope that with this lab, we will be at the forefront, flying the cybersecurity flag for Nigeria,” he added.
Tags: Information Security