Zechariah Oluleke Akinpelu: Navigating the Path to Cybersecurity Success

Zechariah Oluleke Akinpelu
Zechariah Oluleke Akinpelu

An accomplished global Cybersecurity executive, Zechariah Oluleke Akinpelu has vast experience in various areas of Information Security, including Engineering, Governance, Cloud Security, Program Development, Risk Management, Incident Management, Threat Hunting, Threat Intelligence, Penetration Testing, Application Security, Vulnerability Management, and Digital Forensics. He has worked in different sectors, including Fintech, Technology, and Finance and has won multiple awards for his expertise.

Zechariah began his career as a software engineer, developing applications in HR Systems, EdTech, and Banking. He is now the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Unity Bank. Later, he changed his focus to information security, capitalizing on his solid expertise in software engineering. He began as an application engineer and progressed to leadership roles, overseeing teams of Application Security Engineers. He is currently heavily active in connecting information security strategy with broader corporate goals.

The path to success in the cybersecurity field can be difficult due to rapidly evolving technology, specific skill requirements, organizational resistance, balancing security and usability concerns, skill shortages, regulatory compliance, insider threats, and the ever-changing cyber threats. To overcome these challenges, Zechariah believes in dedication, continuous learning, networking, and a strong commitment to the organization’s security goals.

To progress in the cybersecurity industry, building a robust professional network, pursuing cybersecurity education and certifications, and gaining hands-on experience are crucial steps that significantly enhance one’s chances of climbing the corporate ladder. Zechariah emphasizes the importance of staying updated with the latest developments in the field and maintaining a proactive approach towards security objectives.

Cybersecurity Pioneer

Zechariah has opportunities to pioneer various Cybersecurity functions within Tech Startups, Fintech, and Financial Institutions. He has played a vital role in enhancing the Cybersecurity posture of different organizations. His contributions to the Cybersecurity community are notable, as he has actively participated as a moderator and examiner for prestigious certifications like Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Network Defender (CND), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Data Privacy Security Engineer (CDPSE), and Certified Chief Information Security Officer (C|CISO) through bodies like EC-Council and ISACA.

Zechariah’s commitment to Cybersecurity doesn’t end there. He has served on the Board of Directors for prominent Cybersecurity organizations like ISACA and CyberEdBoard. His expertise has also been recognized by Forbes, as he is an official member of the Forbes Technology Council, an exclusive organization for senior-level technology executives. Within this role, he has published numerous articles on various Cybersecurity and Technology topics, sharing his insights and knowledge with a broader audience.

Additionally, Zechariah has actively contributed to the development of an open-source Security Incident and Event Monitoring (SIEM) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) platform, demonstrating his dedication to advancing Cybersecurity technology.

Guided by Core Values

According to Zechariah, Unity Bank is guided by the following core values:

  • Teamwork: All staff within the organization work together to ensure its commitments to stakeholders are delivered
  • Passion: The organization is driven by the desire to exceed the qualitative and quantitative expectations of our customers
  • Resourcefulness: Its people are ingenious and imaginative in seeking solutions to issues
  • Integrity: Unity Bank’s people are forthright in all their dealings with internal and external customers and partners
  • Dependability: Its stakeholders can always count on its reliability and loyalty
  • Excellence: Unity Bank seeks to create and raise standards in its dealings, exceptionally surpassing expectations
  • Empathy: The organization is very empathic by showing respect and compassion to its various customers

Striking a Balance

As Zechariah observes, technology holds a crucial role in Cybersecurity. He adds that, while Artificial Intelligence (AI) provides significant benefits to the profession, it should not be viewed as a one-size-fits-all answer. It should instead add other security measures such as routine security assessments, following to best practices from organizations such as the Center for Internet Security (CIS), NIST Cybersecurity Framework, and Open Web Application Security Standard (OWASP), and educating users about security practices.

In addition, Zechariah emphasizes the value of continued research and collaboration within the cybersecurity sector. Such collaboration promotes technological improvements, making cybersecurity solutions more resourceful and effective. By combining AI with other security measures and promoting collective efforts, organizations can build a strong and resilient cybersecurity defense.

Key Transformations in Cybersecurity

Zechariah advises Unity Bank to be attentive to several important changes in their cybersecurity approach. These changes include:

  • Emphasis on Zero Trust Architecture: In the authentication and authorization process, the bank should adopt the concept of Zero Trust, where every access request is treated as potentially unauthorized until verified, even for internal users.
  • AI and Machine Learning in Cybersecurity: Implementing AI and Machine Learning technologies can significantly enhance the bank’s ability to detect and respond to cyber threats in real-time.
  • Cloud Security: As the bank utilizes cloud-based services, it must prioritize robust security measures to safeguard sensitive data and applications.
  • IoT Security: With the increasing use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, Unity Bank should focus on securing these endpoints to prevent potential vulnerabilities.
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM): Enhancing IAM practices will help the bank manage user access more securely and efficiently.
  • Quantum Cryptography: Preparing for the future of cryptography, Unity Bank should explore quantum-resistant encryption methods to ensure the confidentiality of sensitive information.

Becoming a Leader of Leaders

Zechariah aspires to become a leader of leaders, striving to replicate his knowledge and expertise in others. His goal is to create a widespread Cyber Culture within the organization, where every individual comprehends their roles and responsibilities in cybersecurity.

By sharing his skills and guiding others, Zechariah aims to empower his team members and colleagues to become leaders in their own right, capable of effectively handling cybersecurity challenges and making informed decisions. Through mentoring, coaching, and providing continuous learning opportunities, he seeks to nurture a cybersecurity-conscious workforce that is proactive and vigilant in safeguarding the organization’s assets.

Valuable Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs

Zechariah offers valuable advice to budding entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the dynamic cybersecurity industry. He highlights that while it can be rewarding, it also comes with its challenges.  He asserts, “My advice is that the entrepreneur needs deep knowledge and expertise in Cybersecurity to be able to be successful in the field; the entrepreneur also needs to identify a niche for the market and also build a strong network.”