I think the first time that I used a computer was in 1998 at the tender age of 7. It was amazing to see a metal box communicate with me and perform the tasks and activities that I instructed it to do. While my directions were limited in complexity due to my age and the sheer bewilderment with which I interacted with my PC, immersing into this world – which transcended the boundaries of physical life – resulted in hours and hours holed up in front of this very good friend of mine. However, this strong relationship was severely shattered when someone hacked my PC. This was my first interaction with the world of world of information security (or lack thereof) and it left a huge imprint in my life. I was 12 at that time and losing my passwords, list of favorite songs and saved homework was a huge blow for my childhood privacy. I believe this incident ignited the spark of curiosity within me, pushing me towards a greater understanding of this field and all that lies within.
Growing up in a world ridiculed with information leaks and security flaws, I have often dreamt about being the superhero in this fable and rescuing the world from such prevailing issues. However, as I learnt more about this domain and the plethora of variable factors affecting it, I realized that the complexity of this arena and my severe lack of knowledge meant I had to put my superhero plans on hold. Therefore, in an effort to reach towards this goal, I decided that everything I did in my life would be a step in this direction. From the installation and experimentation with hacking tools on my laptop and the enrollment in the Digital Systems Security specialization at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (I graduated with High Distinction) to my certificate in Ethical Hacking and my auto-phishing detection graduation project which was incidentally adjudged as the second best project in Middle East, Africa and South Asia at GITEX 2013, most of my efforts and endeavors have been towards increasing my knowledge and experience in this rapidly evolving field.
While the domain of security has always remained at the crosshairs of my focus, I have also come to the realization that the world can indeed become a better place with the access to and availability of software. Fuelled by the catalyst of being blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference (albeit a small one) – I have also directed my programming skills, creativity and perseverance towards the development of other projects whose underlying objective is to give back to society by improving the quality of life. From the lack of quality education in developing countries which spurned the patented creation of TouchDesk (a solution for increasing access to education while reducing the impact on the environment and reducing costs of access) to the lack of affordability of quality medical access which resulted in the creation of Sparkka (an artificially intelligent automated medical information dispenser which can be accessed over the internet), I have endeavored to use my skills towards noble causes. In addition to these undertakings, I have built a project for the Dubai Health Authority which enables patients to book appointment and view their medical history while allowing doctors to view their medical history easily – all by swiping their health cards at appropriate outlets. Moreover, I have created a pipeline risk management solution for Asset Integrity Engineering. I believe these activities clearly attest to the moral compass that I have based my life’s direction on.
Throughout these years, meritocracy has also remained an important factor in pushing me towards my goals. For instance, I graduated at the top of my class during my undergrad years at the University of Wollongong in Dubai. Similarly, I had the privilege and honor of attending the Global Startup Youth this year. Aimed at bringing together 500 youth, out of a pool of 60,000 individuals, this platform’s underlying objective was to provide an environment for young entrepreneurs to work together towards the creation of sustainable ventures that solve real world problems. The diverse nature of talents, backgrounds and attitudes infused into one giant melting pot provided a deep learning experience for me which, I am confident, will significantly helped me in developing a well-rounded perspective and push me towards embracing bigger challenges in the years to come.
I have a dream. I dream of becoming a superhero. I don’t care how ridiculous it sounds – I know I am capable of becoming one if I armed with the right tools and knowledge. After all, a life not spent on improving the lives of others or making a positive contribution in society is, in my dictionary, purposeless and without direction.
Thanks for reading.