Startups are the First Line of Defense

Startups are the First Line of Defense

 “Cyber security could do for Maryland what the computer chip did for Silicon Valley,” Chancellor Brit Kirwan, May of 2012. 

“bwtech” @UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) is a 71-acre Research and Technology Park with 8 buildings and three incubators. This oft-overlooked Park is a next-door neighbor to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Cyber Command, National Security Agency and Lockheed Martin, to name just a few.


At inception, bwtech@UMBC was primarily focused on life sciences and clean energy with cyber security barely holding a presence amongst the other two more mature and well-funded industries of the late 80s. But times have changed, and cyber security now has its own campus to help situate the 43 cyber security companies residing in the research park, and another 35 in the incubator.


Here are some notable startups on the front line of defense:


COMPUTER BREACH: There are technologies to protect data at rest (encryption), and data in motion (VPNs), but until now there has been no software solution to protect valuable information at the point of use – the computer monitor. Which is why computer displays may be the most overlooked security vulnerability in the world today. Oculis Labs has designed technology to scramble the computer screen, making the information unintelligible should someone be looking over your shoulder.


ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE: The fabric technology of Appistry has empowered organizations and researchers to transform vast data into actionable intelligence since 2001. More recently, Appistry has built Ayrris, a big-data environment that weaves together high performance computing and analytics to provide for diverse applications—including everything from delivering overnight packages, gaining clarity from financial transactions, or deciphering military satellite images. In 2012, Appistry was selected by the Broad Institute as the exclusive distributor of the Genome Analysis Toolkit.


MOBILE: Mobile is a risk for consumers, but even more so for intelligence officers during covert operations. Koolspan has developed a TrustChip, which is transferable between smartphone. The TrustChip “delivers a full suite of security services including key management, authentication and encryption.” The TrustChip is deployed in its own self-contained security engine, therefore insulated from the threats that can reside in mobile devices and other platforms.


CLOUD: The cloud is widely considered the most vulnerable storage solution to date. Five Directions is working to develop technology that would enable high-assurance file sharing via public or private clouds.  Using a data-centric approach, the technology secures access through credentialing, encryption, and a “robust audit trail.”  Five Directions was contacted but unavailable for comment.



Beth Kindig


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