Cyber Resilient Infrastructure for Small Fintech Businesses

By AfriBlocks Network on May, 29 2024
Cyber Resilient Infrastructure for Small Fintech Businesses
AfriBlocks Network
AfriBlocks Network

Zechariah Akinpelu is a seasoned and globally recognized cybersecurity executive with a wealth of experience spanning multiple facets of information security. His expertise encompasses Information Security Engineering, Information Security Governance, Cloud Security, Information Security Program Development, Information Risk Management, Security Incident Management, Threat Hunting, Threat Intelligence, Penetration Testing, Application Security, Vulnerability Management, and Digital Forensics. His extensive experience traverses fintech, technology companies, and the financial sector. He has set up and led information security departments for various commercial banks and fintech firms in Nigeria, establishing himself as a pivotal figure in the industry.

A Distinguished Career in Cybersecurity

Zechariah's journey in cybersecurity began with his efforts in pioneering information security departments for commercial banks and fintech companies in Nigeria. He has served in various capacities within ISACA, including as Cybersecurity Nexus (CSX) Liaison, Education Director for ISACA Lagos, and Membership and Certification Director for ISACA Lagos. His leadership roles extended to Interswitch, the largest digital payment company in Sub-Saharan Africa, where he led the information security organization. Additionally, he built one of the largest teams of security engineers in Sub-Saharan Africa while working with FirstBank. Currently, he is the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for Unity Bank and the founder of CelsusBit, a cybersecurity company initially started in Nigeria and now headquartered in the US.

His contributions to the field are extensive and recognized globally. He is an examiner and moderator for various cybersecurity certifications, such as EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Network Defender (CND), Certified Chief Information Security Officer (C|CISO), and Certified Data Privacy Security Engineer (CDPSE). His active participation in open-source cybersecurity platforms further demonstrates his commitment to the community.

Zechariah has spoken on various cybersecurity topics at prestigious conferences and workshops, including BlackHat, London Tech Show, Infosecurity North America, and GITEX, across Africa, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. He holds a BSc in Physics from the University of Ibadan, an MBA from the Business School Netherlands, a Master’s in Cybersecurity from EC-Council University in the US, and numerous professional certifications.

An Award-Winning Cybersecurity Leader

Zechariah's accolades are a testament to his influence and expertise in the field. He was inducted into the EC-Council’s 2021 Certified Ethical Hacker Hall of Fame and named the 2016 EC-Council Ethical Hacker of the Year. He has received several awards in the cybersecurity and technology space, including being named Leader at the 2022 and 2023 World CIO 200 Summit, and in 2023, he was awarded Best CISO in West Africa by Finnovex. Most recently, in April 2024, he was named among the Global Top 10 Information Security Professionals of the Year.

Motivation to Launch CelsusBit

When asked about his motivation to launch his startup, CelsusBit, Zechariah explained, "I am motivated to launch a startup now because I have gathered the prerequisite experience from different organizations such as startups, fintech, and big banks. I understand the niche for each organization, and I have also helped to build the cybersecurity infrastructure for the various organizations I have worked with. It's now the right time to scale up my experience to a larger community on a global scale."

Excitement for Innovation

Zechariah’s enthusiasm for innovation drives his current work. "I am excited about this because I love trying new things and innovating at the same time. This gives me the opportunity to evolve over time," he shared. His passion for continuous learning and innovation underscores his approach to building and leading his company.

Challenges in Growing the Team

Finding the right talent has been a significant challenge for Zechariah. "One of my biggest challenges in growing my team is finding the right person with the right skill sets that align with our company’s vision," he noted. This challenge is common in the cybersecurity field, where specific skills and alignment with the company’s goals are crucial.

Scaling the Team for the Future

Zechariah has a clear strategy for scaling his team. "I plan to scale up my team in the future by ensuring that I have a robust training and development program for the current staff, develop a strategy to attract and retain top cybersecurity staff, constantly expose the team to the latest trends in technology, and ensure that the team aligns with the business objectives and corporate culture," he explained.

Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Founders

For those looking to start their own ventures, Zechariah offers valuable advice. "My word for an aspiring founder is to ensure that they understand the business they want to venture into very well, take their time to understand the operations very well, do their market survey, and come up with their own niche," he advised. This guidance emphasizes the importance of thorough preparation and understanding of one’s business landscape.

Connect with Zechariah

To follow Zechariah and gain insights from his expertise, you can connect with him on LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram. He also shares technical training sessions on his YouTube channel, providing valuable resources for those interested in cybersecurity.

Zechariah’s journey from pioneering cybersecurity departments in Nigeria to leading a global cybersecurity firm exemplifies his dedication, expertise, and passion for innovation. His story serves as an inspiration for aspiring founders and cybersecurity professionals worldwide.

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