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‘There’s nothing average about my normal days’

Adam Pilkey

09.09.18 4 min. read

To commemorate F-Secure’s 30th year of innovation, we’re profiling 30 of our fellows from our more than 25 offices around the globe.

Technology isn’t perfect. And while it’s important for users to know about vulnerabilities in their devices or software, even exploitable vulnerabilities are business as usual for people working in cyber security.

It’s something that F-Secure’s Head of Hardware Security Andrea Barisani knows better than most. He got his first computer – a Commodore 64 – when he was 8 years old. He’s been making and breaking technology ever since.

“In what’s a classic example of a typical hacker journey my Commodore’s games inspired my curiosity in beating them by hacking their operations. In the end the journey of learning computer programming to modify the games became more fascinating than beating them.”

Andrea’s beginnings may be typical for hackers. But you can’t say the same about his career. Andrea founded Inverse Path in 2005– a small cyber security consultancy firm acquired by F-Secure in 2017. Andrea and his team dedicated themselves to producing high quality research and consulting services. Their efforts to account for the information security of all layers of a system helped Inverse Path earn the trust and respect of a variety of customers. They also made time for more interesting projects, such as developing the USB armory.

Their reputation allowed Andrea and his team to apply their expertise in surprising ways. It’s given his team a somewhat unique role in the cyber security industry.

“We are proud to have placed our expertise in several ‘exotic’ areas over the past decade. It’s made our regular assignments pretty diverse,” said Andrea. “We could be analyzing the avionics systems of an aircraft for resilience against all kind of attacks, testing the infotainment system of a vehicle, develop a cryptocurrency hardware wallet, create new internal penetration testing tools, review security design documents or take the first engineering steps in developing a new product. There’s nothing average about my ‘normal’ workdays.”

After a year and a half or so at F-Secure, Andrea is pleased to see that transitioning from a company of 3 to a company of well over a thousand has allowed him to not only maintain his high standards of research and conduct, but also share them with more people.

“After the acquisition, we were happy to find ourselves in a place where our talent and ways of working were highly respected. I was really surprised by the opportunities to influence how things are done,” says Andrea.  “Even the most senior members of the company are open to input. That’s something I don’t think you see at many large companies. My team specializes in tackling a lot of unique, embedded systems. And I’m really happy that the out-of-the-box thinking and approach from Inverse Path is thriving at F-Secure.”

Although Andrea thinks that’s something unique about F-Secure, it’s not a complete surprise. The company culture is something he looked at when considering F-Secure’s acquisition of Inverse Path. Reputation was also vital, as Inverse Path relied on the reputation created by their research and referrals to get new customers.

“Reputation, track record, research, are all things that I felt made F-Secure and Inverse Path a good match. And not many companies have F-Secure’s history. Back in the 1994, during F-Secure’s Data Fellows days, it became the first information security company with a web presence.”

While Andrea may face a wide variety of unique, exciting challenges in his professional life, he still enjoys figuring out how to make things that don’t break as easily as his Commodore 64.

“Security engineering is one of my favorite activities among the many different ones involved in my job,” explains Andrea. “We have been developing, for several customers in the past years, innovative hardware and software solutions with security embedded from the very beginning. Engineering solutions from the ground up is extremely rewarding. And it provides the perfect complement to keep security consulting always in perspective.”

Check out our open positions if you want to join Andrea and the hundreds of other great fellows fighting to keep internet users safe from online threats.

Adam Pilkey

09.09.18 4 min. read

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