Software graduate set to join fight against cyber crime

Ibrahim Idris is a keen photographer but his real passion is programming – he loves creating his own Android mobile apps and using his tech skills to solve problems.

The 21-year-old recently graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a First Class BSc in Software Development for Business (SDfB), a Tech Partnership-accredited degree. Armed with top-notch tech skills, he now hopes to join the fight against the growing cyber security threat and lead by example back in his native Nigeria.

The Tech Partnership caught up with the young graduate to find out what he thought of the course and what’s next for his career in tech. When Ibrahim came to the UK from Nigeria he originally planned on studying computer engineering but decided software development was a better fit. And he hasn’t looked back since.

Business-focused tech skills

Ibrahim and his fellow Oxford Brookes classmates are the first in the UK to have graduated with the SDfB degree, a Tech Industry Gold course which was designed by over 50 UK tech employers and is now offered at nine UK universities. Students on the course spend roughly 75% of their time studying programming and theory modules and dedicate the remainder to business management.

Commenting on the course’s business element, Ibrahim said it gave him an opportunity to view technology in a business management context. “I had to design and create an automatic timetabling app for not-for-profit dance school in Oxford as part of my final research project. As well as applying my technical skills, the experience taught me how to deal with clients, work to a deadline and develop problem solving skills.”

Data in context

When asked what part of the course stood out for him, Ibrahim said the ‘Professional Issues in Computer Risk’ module was particularly interesting as it helped put data security into context: “It made me more aware of how data is perceived and the safety implications for companies that store and manage the information.” This, he said, helped form his belief that technology professionals have a social responsibility to ensure customers’ personal data is secure.

Coupled with the recent high-profile attacks on large computer systems, the course helped spark his interest in a future career in cyber security: “Cyber-attacks are becoming much more common so we’re going to need more people with the right skills to deal with them. The recent WannaCry ransomware attacks reaffirmed this, but also the ability to fight back. For example, the young person that bought the unregistered WannaCry URL domain effectively stopped the ransomware from spreading any further than it did. His actions proved we’re not helpless against cyber-attacks but also that individuals and organisations need to take cyber security seriously when it comes to protecting data.”

Ibrahim is now planning to return to the UK next year for a master’s in cyber security. He hopes to take that knowledge back to his home country to help counter cyber criminality: “Nigeria has one of the largest economies in the world but is yet to establish itself in the cyber security space. I hope to change that.”

“I’m keen to study digital forensics – where you investigate and find evidence of digital crimes which law and order officials can use to charge and prosecute. More talent in this field will surely build consumer confidence in data storage and increase the opportunity cost of cybercrime.”

The graduate perspective

Before computer games evolved into the highly complex 4K resolutions of today, kids used to learn programming languages like BASIC from magazines to create their own 8-bit games on gaming micro-computers. Gamification is still being used today to engage young people in computing. Ibrahim cited the Raspberry Pi educational platform to demonstrate that children are learning computing skills and apply them in the real world.

“Technology helps us in real life – it gives us tools to interpret and change our environment. For example, a basic understanding of statistical software can help solve otherwise complex problems”, he said. Ultimately, Ibrahim explained, an understanding of technology allows us to be more resourceful and efficient, which can only be a good thing.

Find out more about the Software Development for Business degree