Olayinka Odeniran: Cybersecurity, STEM, and Cryptocurrency Expert

Olayinka is creator and founder of the Black Women Blockchain Council, LLC. Her firm, CybSecWatch, provides cybersecurity tools for protection. The cryptocurrency expert recently caught up with Bronze Magazine to discuss her global benefit LLC, STEM programs for young Black girls, and her ultimate goal for Black Women Blockchain Council, LLC.  

Tell us about the Black Women Blockchain Council, LLC.

Black Women Blockchain Council is a global benefit LLC. It was created out of necessity with the purpose of creating a space where Black women are promoted, supported, and educated about Blockchain. Our vision is to make sure that in building the future in Blockchain no one is left behind. We honestly feel that this new technology is a way for our community to build and bridge the generational wealth gap that we have, increase talent, and build innovation. This is Black women across the globe so we are just not focusing on America, we are focusing on everywhere that the African diaspora is spread.

Our mission is to provide educational events, resources to train Black women in the technological understanding of the distributed ledger technology, and promote Black women led Blockchain projects. We are in the process of working out some preliminary foundations for an incubator program that we are hoping to establish where it will support and develop solution turn to start up from innovation in projects that Black women are creating and helping them build it on Blockchain protocol so that they can be prepared to transition into this new future that we are creating.

We also provide STEM related training to underprivileged girls in kindergarten through 12th grade by introducing them to different avenues of STEM so that they can peak their curiosity because they might not want to go into STEM. At least getting that introduction and hands-on knowledge of it may foster some interest down the line.       

How can someone become a member of Black Women Blockchain Council, LLC?

We have a website and right now we are in the process of building up our membership page and making it more inclusive. However, you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter. In March our theme was Women’s History Month and this month we will showcase a lot of the ladies that we have been sending out YouTube segments about and their involvement in Blockchain. We will feature them a little bit more so that you guys won’t forget who they are and will always know that we have been here.  

Tell us about your firm CybSecWatch.

CybSecWatch was built out of the combination of my experience and compliance as well as cybersecurity. I am a cybersecurity professional. I have my Master’s degree in Cybersecurity Policy and Management. I am currently a government contractor at the moment. I wanted to make compliance easier for people to understand as well as for corporations to implement. A lot of times when people think about compliance, they think that technology is going to be the solution to keep people safe online when in reality, technology can only take you so far. It is important for the human factor to be as important as the tools that you are using, if not more. My belief is that it is definitely more important than anything because in order for you to implement those tools in technology, the individual needs to know what to do.

Making compliance easy relies on focusing on security awareness, training for individuals so that they can be aware of what they do that could lead to a security breach, and knowing how to avoid certain social engineering issues that may arise such as phishing. Now we are getting a lot of text messages that are coming out so you have to be mindful of that as well. We also provide cybersecurity related services including pentesting, reviewing your policy, and making sure your systems are correctly set up as well as providing you with various other cybersecurity related services. And finally, achieving total compliance, which is more for the financial institution since that is where I spent the majority of my career, helping them with their fiduciary responsibility, making sure that their client information is secure. So I combine both compliance and cybersecurity to help small to mid-size firms build up their programs.

What are some of the cybersecurity tools for protection?

I would say the number one tool would be providing training to your employees. I know that is not a tool but it is very important because as I mentioned before, the employee needs to understand what their role is and how certain things they do can lead to vulnerabilities. Since we are all working from home, one of the things to consider is a virtual private network, also called a VPN. I am sure that everyone by now has heard of a VPN. It basically masks your ID online while you are visiting certain websites or if you just want to have a little bit of ease when you are surfing online. This does not mean you are free from viruses or anything like that; it just means that someone would not be able to track your presence online with the virtual private network in place. I don’t want to specifically say VPN, so I think it is important for people to do their research and if they want more information they can definitely contact CybSecWatch.

Let’s talk about the STEM programs you introduce to young Black girls.

I am a mother with an 11-year-old daughter and at one point she used to be a part of the Girl Scouts. She also has a best friend and being that they are both young Black girls, I wanted to make sure that they get introduced to technology and STEM; sometimes art is included which makes it STEAM. We just want to make sure that they are exposed to this at an earlier age.

In my opinion, a lot of us are not doing our part to reintroduce STEM to young girls. I partnered up with a STEM nonprofit facility here in the DC area and started doing a monthly STEM program. I reached out to my network of females and was able to get all kinds of STEM professionals to come out and do a two-hour meeting where they introduced themselves, their profession, and provided hands-on interactive activities to peak the young girls’ curiosity. They did the spaghetti challenge and we introduced people who are in Blockchain. Some of these people are not necessarily in STEM, but they are STEM adjacent. Being that Blockchain can be confusing even for adults, the way it was broken down and explained, the girls were able to ask so many great questions.

I was amazed because I was standing there as the organizer thinking maybe I was in over my head. The girls were also introduced to cryptography by decoding messages, which is essentially the basics of cryptography. We also introduced them to coding but due to COVID-19 we had to end it. I am trying to bring it back more virtually to open it up to more people across the globe.

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is basically a digital currency. Crypto is from the word cryptography. The technology behind crypto is called Blockchain, a distributed ledger technology that allows you to store data and do transactions so that there is no double spending. This is how digital currency came about. It started in 2008 when Satoshi Nakamoto built Bitcoin and the Blockchain technology.

There have been other historical attempts to create this particular digital currency which have failed, but Satoshi Nakamoto was able to be successful using Blockchain for the simple fact that there was no ability to double spend. For example, if someone was to spend their one dollar, that one dollar is gone. There is no way to say that you did not spend that one dollar.

What is your ultimate goal for Black Women Blockchain Council?

For Black Women Blockchain Council, the ultimate goal is to look back and be fulfilled with the fact that we, the Black community, were part of the revolution. It is similar to the dot-com craze. When that craze started, a lot of the people that made money off of it were individuals who were more technically inclined and saw the vision. Everybody started having their own dot-com and there were people that were making money off of just a one page and they were selling off corners of their page just for advertisement. People made a lot of money that way. Looking back, the ultimate goal is to have the Black community be able to build generational wealth off of this.


About the author

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Dr. Shanessa Fenner is an elementary principal, writer, TV show host, former radio personality, and songwriter.

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