Melih Abdulhayoğlu is a Turkish-American engineer, inventor, innovator, entrepreneur, and internet security advocate.
Early Life and Education
Melih grew up in Antioch, Turkey, where he developed an interest in electronics at a young age, building his first electronic circuit at age 9. This early period of Melih’s life was when he first developed two characteristics that would become major driving factors in his life: First, a desire to build and create. Second, a need to protect people. These characteristics have defined Melih’s life since his childhood.
After finishing high school in Turkey, Melih attended the University of Bradford in in the city of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, where he pursued a degree in electrical engineering. While attending university, Melih’s passion for building electronic devices grew as he worked on various projects in his free time. While a student in Bradford University, one of his inventions was sponsored by the British government for £5,000. Melih credits this experience with teaching him that he could work on projects that he was passionate about and make money doing it.
After finishing university, Melih saw an opportunity to apply his talents for building and creating, and his innate drive to protect people to the nascent internet. This was in the early 1990s, when the internet was still very much a wild west, and Melih saw an opportunity to tame it and create a trusted online environment where everyone would be free to learn, shop, and create online.
In 1998, Melih founded cybersecurity firm Comodo Group, and over the next two decades, grew the Comodo companies into a worldwide presence, while remaining committed to making the internet a safer place for everyone by providing free security products for consumers and enterprises alike, in accordance with his motto, “Security is a right. Not a privilege.”
But Melih recognized that he would not be able to protect the internet on his own. To truly create a trusted internet that all people could enjoy and benefit from, it was necessary to spark collaboration across the various cybersecurity companies. So, in 2005, Melih founded the Certification Authority Browser Forum (CA/B Forum), a consortium of certificate authorities, internet browser developers, and OS vendors, with the mission of advancing best practices across the certificate authority industry to ensure secure communications. Today, the forum includes over forty certificate authority members and six major browser vendors.
Following the success of the CA/B Forum, and recognizing an emerging problem with malware disguised as antivirus programs preying on consumers, in 2009, Melih initiated the Common Computing Security Standards Forum (CCSS), an organization of security software vendors, OS providers and browser developers, working to protect consumers by maintaining a whitelist of trusted antivirus vendors.
In the two decades since Comodo Group’s founding, its SSL certificate authority, Comodo CA, grew to become the largest SSL provider in the world, with 50% market share. In 2017, Melih sold 50% of Comodo CA to private equity firm Francisco Partners and shifted his focus to his other companies, including the cybersecurity software side of Comodo Group, Comodo Security Solutions, Inc. and other projects, including website security company cWatch, nationwide managed service provider nuMSP, IT software provider ITarian, and home automation companies Ezlo Innovation and Vera, among others.
While Melih’s companies and forums have expanded and achieved enormous success, Melih has never lost sight of his original vision of continuous innovation and using his talents to help and protect people. All his businesses have free offerings, he has never refused a charity asking for one of his products for free, and he is always willing to make his products available to people who can’t otherwise afford them.
Awards and Recognition
In 2008, Melih Abdulhayoglu’s efforts to promote Internet security earned him the Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year® award in Information Technology Software for New Jersey. In 2011 Melih was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Global Excellence Awards. In 2016 he was awarded the Mustafa V. Koç Business Leadership Award. He is a frequent speaker on Internet security issues and has appeared as an expert on various media outlets, including Fox TV and USA Today.