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Member Spotlight | SkOUT Secure Intelligence

on June 3, 2019 / by Nancy Dahlberg ,


Business: SkOUT Secure Intelligence provides cybersecurity monitoring for companies of all sizes around the world.

Founded: 2013

No. of employees: About 100

CEO: Aidan Kehoe

Investors: Stephen M. Ross’s RSE Ventures, ClearSky

Website: getskout.com

 

SkOUT Secure Intelligence provides cybersecurity technology and solutions.  SkOUT combines a proprietary blend of cloud-based technologies and data analytics with extensive customer service to offer accessible, affordable cybersecurity for businesses of all sizes.

Lee Noriega of SkOUT Secure addresses Dublin Chamber

The New York-based company has strong Florida ties. It has an office in North Palm Beach, and its co-founder, Lee Noriega, lives in Cape Coral. 

The need is real. Cyber attacks, including phishing, advanced malware and ransomware, are becoming more sophisticated, more targeted and costlier to small and medium sized businesses. According to the 2018 State of Cybersecurity in SMBs Report conducted by Ponemon Institute, in the past 12 months, 67 percent of respondents reported experiencing a cyber attack and 58 percent had a breach involving sensitive information.

SkOUT’s motto: Find trouble before trouble finds you. To help companies do that, its management team consists of experts from both the government and private sector.

Noriega has been hunting down the cyber bad guys since 1982.

At age 22 and in the U.S. Navy,  Noriega was temporarily assigned to a Navy supply center  where he started to play around with its computer.

 “I managed to start breaking in to networks. Once they figured out what I was doing, the Navy wanted to start an organization within the Navy that looked for people who wanted to attack. I pretty much became a nation-state hacker for the military. I did that for 17 years.”  

After that, he worked on a project with the FBI and became an agent, pursuing some of the most prolific hackers of the 1990s. After a few years, he left to work for Nortel Networks overseeing security. When Nortel went Chapter 11 in 2009, he and other experts in the cybersecurity field started a government contracting company and sold it three years later.  Then, after working on a project for the NSA that involved writing software that identified where hackers were coming from worldwide, Noriega had the  opportunity to co-found SkOUT in 2013. “We thought this is the time to build a cyber company.”

The co-founders spent the first 6 months essentially researching the MSSP landscape. “There were a lot of competitors, but there was also a lot of market share – a lot of companies doing nothing,” Noriega said.

At the same time the team was able to spend time with the NSA to see what the government was doing on the prevent and protect side, Noriega said.

“The things we learned about how we should be watching networks for security was really compelling. … You have to see everything on the network, not just a few devices. Malware hides out. MSSPs weren’t doing that.”

SkOUT receives threat intelligence feeds and alerts its customers  of those threats. In addition, everything its customers in 30+ countries experience gets fed into the platform. SkOUT went after the highest credentials, and built its security operations center in 2014.

Said Noriega: “We look at real threats within a network environment based on threat intelligence. But we also look for things that look suspicious within the network and we are asking the hard questions.”

SkOUT found a big opportunity in doing assessments for companies, because they were woefully under-protected. SkOUT gains new business when the news media alerts of another massive breach – and also gets the call when a company has been breached.

 “We are at a point in the cybersecurity industry where there is not enough of the people who work in this industry to stop the hackers. There are 155,000 registered ethical hackers. Times that by 100 nefarious people and that’s probably how many [nefarious] hackers we have to deal with on a daily basis,” he said. “And they are changing the game a lot.”

So how can a smaller company reduce its cyber attack risk without spending a fortune?

Lee Noriega Skout

Lee Noriega

“We scan their networks on a continuing basis, we work with them on closing up gaps because most attacks are opportunistic,” Noriega said. “[The attackers] are scanning the network and if they can’t find a hole in 10 minutes they are gone, likes kids in a candy store, to find another candy store. There are too many targets, too little time.”

Another SkOUT feature: a mail-protection filter. Every email is red, yellow or green. Red won’t let you open it.

SkOUT, founded in 2013 with six people, today has about 100 employees. SkOUT’s customers are high net worth executives all the way to very large enterprise customers. In Florida, a few dozen customers include a large Palm Beach hotel to a shipping company in Sarasota. “We can do all their monitoring, assessments, and social media monitoring on the Dark Web.”

There are so many threats out there: from disgruntled employees, amateur cyber criminals, the Dark Web mafia, terrorists …

Noriega’s message to companies: Start somewhere. Start with software patching and awareness training and build from there.  “We sell through education, a lot of people don’t realize what their risk is.”

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Member Spotlight | SkOUT Secure Intelligence