Cybersecurity is responding to the next level of threats.  This is not surprising.  In January, hackers modified the code supporting the Council on Foreign Relations’ Web site so anyone visiting it would leave with a stowaway—malware.  Writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, Brad Stone and Michael Riley describe some of the increasingly internationally sophisticated cyber attacks to which no company seems immune (“Hacked?  Who Ya Gonna Call?” 2/11/13–2/17/13, pp. 28–30):

“In a wave of [cyber attacks] beginning in 2009, dubbed Operation Aurora by security firm McAfee, sophisticated hackers based in China breached the corporate networks of Google, Yahoo!, Juniper Networks, Adobe Systems, and dozens of other prominent technology companies and tried to access their source code.  China’s hackers seemed narrowly focused on military technology and telecommunications companies as early as 2000.” (p. 28)

In response to these new cybersecurity threats, some interesting individuals and companies are rising to the challenge.  One of them is Kevin Mandia, the 42-year-old founder and CEO of Mandiant.  With a graduate degree in forensic science and years of experience in the Air Force as a cybercrime investigator, Mandia saw the growing opportunity to create a company that would aggressively handle these newest waves of cyber attacks.  Therefore, nearly a decade ago, Mandia formed his new company based in Alexandria, Virginia.  Mandiant uses an unconventional approach to cybersecurity.  It believes in expansive, network-wide onetime battles that completely eliminate the hackers’ presence:

“Teams of three to five specialists are assigned to track each victim company’s computer system, a painstaking process that can last for months.  After they have identified every security hole and piece of malware in the customer’s network, Mandiant gives the bad guys the boot, in some cases by replacing every infected machine within 48 hours.” (p. 29)

Cybersecurity has become an all-out war, and companies have to respond in kind.  Mandiant is definitely one of the leading new warriors on the battlefield.  The company’s expertise and track record have proven its metal.  Ted Schlein, a partner with the venture capital investment firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, observes:

“Outside of the NSA, I would guess that Mandiant knows more about advanced persistent threats than anyone in the world.” (p. 30)

I have to give Mandia credit as an entrepreneur.  He encountered what so many entrepreneurs before him have faced.  When he could not see a place for himself in conventional civilian or military employment, he built his own place:

“‘There was nowhere I could go where I belonged. . . . I felt responding to incidents had to be core, because that was the only way you could build the next-generation security company.’” (p. 30)

And thus Mandiant was birthed, just in time for cybersecurity’s next level.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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