Wilton man makes cybercrime his business
WILTON - With a long history of defeating cybercrime and protecting some of the largest institutions in the world from falling prey to hackers and spies, Jeffrey Stutzman is bringing security expertise to both big corporations and small, and local companies through two fledgling businesses.
Stutzman, who lives in Wilton, is a co-founder of Red Sky Alliance based in Missouri, and Wapack Labs, based in New Hampshire. Red Sky Alliance partners with big business including some of the largest banks in the world and other private companies to thwart would-be hackers and spies from accessing the massive amounts of information that's stored in their computers. And Wapack Labs, which has just opened in Manchester, seeks to help smaller regional businesses including banks and law firms protect their data from malicious people who trade in stolen information.
Stutzman's career began as a Naval Intelligence Officer and later evolved into working with companies like Cisco and Northup Grummon to protect their information from the threats that exist in cyberspace. Then four years ago, Stutzman was tapped by the U.S. Department of Defense to create a team of experts to help banks and defense contractors respond to Internet threats and cyber espionage.
"I built the first team to start investigating this stuff for the DOD," Stutzman said.
But over the course of those four years, Stutzman realized that changes were in store for him. He was commuting from Wilton to Maryland, a trip that just became too much for him and his family, and he also learned that some of the institutions he was trying to protect weren't comfortable working with his Defense Department team.
"Banks hated to deal with the government for various reasons," Stutzman said. Financial institutions don't want the government knowing all their secrets and would prefer to be able to control the information that regulators and other government entities have access to, so trusting a government-sponsored security team to delve into the institutions' most sensitive information was difficult.
After having a candid conversation about the subject with a former vice president of one of the world's largest banks, Stutzman realized that a private cyber security firm was needed, and with his partner Jim McKee of St. Louis, founded Red Sky Alliance.
McKee, a self-proclaimed "serial entrepreneur," said he met Stutzman while giving a presentation on information security at the White House in Washington, D.C. McKee got involved in cyber space when he co-founded a company that essentially enabled credit card transactions to be made over the Internet in 1995.
"I moved from e-commerce into fraud protection to information security," he said. The partnership with Stutzman seemed like a natural fit.
"He's the rock star, and I'm the guy who makes sure the bills get paid," McKee said.
Red Sky Alliance now works to protect 31 clients including 22 private companies with more than 23 million computers in 143 countries around the world. The companies all pay an annual membership fee to belong to the Alliance, and there's a certain amount of teamwork involved.
"The hackers work together to share information, tools and techniques," said McKee, "so we thought we should take a similar team approach, like a Neighborhood Watch, to fight persistent threats."
"I know who the bad guys are, and I know where they talk, " Stutzman said. "I can tell if you're talking to bad guys, and I can even tell which computer in your company is being hacked."
But working with big business isn't enough for Stutzman. He recently launched Wapack Labs in Manchester to work with smaller companies in smaller cities.
"We want to work with local companies that have targets on their heads, companies that rely on moving information across the Internet," he said.
Law firms are vulnerable to information security breaches because their data is so private and protected, said Stutzman, but any company that uses the Internet regularly for e-commerce, for sharing information about research and development, even auto dealerships, are at risk of having their computers hacked.
For more information visit http://launch.redskyalliance.org.