My cyber security journey – Aprielle

I first came across the term cyber security in my third year of University. I was one of the only two females

who had taken the distributed systems course. The visiting lecturer Dr Biggar had noticed something in me that I did not know at the time. So he asked me to see him and it is then that he told me that he believed I would be an excellent fit into cyber security. I later enrolled into teh University of Bradford MSc. program in Internet, Computer and System security but I had to deffer for two years due to lack of funds. I eventually started my MSc. in 2010. Due to Visa issues I got to school half way through the Semester.

It was a bit tough considering that I was in a foreign country and my class mates had already covered half of the term’s course content so I had to catch up. I also happened to be the only student in my class who had to work to raise money for my accommodation and stay in the UK. The sleepless nights were totally worth it because I was among the top 5 students in my class and the only female with a distinction, to the point I got a PHD admission offer on the spot. I however did not take up teh offer but decided to come back to Kenya to work. I looked up cyber security companies in Kenya and came across Security Risk Solutions (SRS) which was the to cyber security company in Kenya. I called and apoke to the CEO Mr Kostja Reim and told him I was coming home and would love to work in his company. He asked me to go to the office once I got back home, which I did and eventually got to an interview. I was not very confident about the outcome since my immediate boss to be Mr. Jason Finlayson kept insisting that he needed someone with vast experience in cyber security which at the time I did not have. I was not his ideal candidate. I was however got an opportunity to work with SRS  and the rest is history. If you would like to see what both my former bosses say about me check out my linkedin profile here.

In 2016 I had the opportunity to start my own firm Infosphere. It has been an interesting journey and I love it more each day. In 2017 I got admitted to the 2018 cyber security PHD program at the University of Oxford. I however was not able to take it up due to financial constraints. Towards the end of 2018 I lost my voice, just as Infosphere was starting to grow, and the doctor put me on voice rest and obviously that had a significant impact. Interestingly that is the same year I spoke at my first conference. From then on I have spoken at various conferences across Africa and continue to share my knowledge as far as I can. I enjoy teaching and I pray that some day I can get back to doing it as much as I used to before. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy being in cyber security.

My journey has taught me various things that I would love to leave with you.

  • Be ready to listen. you never know where your blessing will come from. Through Dr Biggar I was able to learn about and get into cyber security.
  • Hard work and focus will always pay in the end. As long as you do your part, you will succeed.
  • You are your own competition. Do not let other people define success for you. Set your own goals and work faithfully towards them.
  • Do not be afraid to reach out. Someone will give you an opportunity. I thank God for Mr. Jonah Owitti who gave me a chance with SRS. There I got great guidance, great mentors and I enjoyed being the only girl in the company for a while.
  • Be ready to learn from others. There is always something new to learn
  • Patience is a virtue. Things will not always go the way you want them to go whenever you want them. But with focus, the right things will come at the right time.
  • Cyber security is all about passion. the more passionate you are, the better you will get.
  • Read, read and read some more. You cant escape this with a career in cyber security.
  • Ensure you keep growing and sharpening your skills
  • Find a mentor and a network that will push your growth.
  • Relax and have some fun too. Too much screen time has an impact on you. A happy person produces great results.
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