If you walked the halls of the White House or Eisenhower Executive Office Building between 2006 and 2008, it’s possible that you came across Theresa Payton, the former White House chief information officer (CIO). Payton, a cybersecurity veteran who sharpened her teeth in the private sphere protecting giant banks like Wachovia and Bank of America, was in charge of overhauling the White House’s digital security infrastructure from top-to-bottom during those years. For the job, Vince Crisler, Payton’s chief information security officer (CISO), led the force. Now, the pair have reunited to launch a Va.-based security startup by the name of Dark Cubed.
Before securing communications for then-president George W. Bush, Crisler worked at the Pentagon where he provided cybersecurity support for the National Military Command Center and Nation’s nuclear command and control mission. Ultimately, he would transition into the White House’s Communications Agency (WHCA) where he met Payton.
“Together we had the opportunity to overhaul the security infrastructure at the White House and put in place the first-ever 24-7-365 security operations center (SOC) for monitoring White House networks. Two of my lead cyber security experts from that time Ken Bailey and Brian Wanner are both supporting me on Dark Cubed now,” Crisler said in an email.
Today, Crisler is no longer overseeing the world’s most important communications from a seat within the Pentagon or White House. Instead, he has moved on to another opportunity: protecting mid-market enterprises from hackers who find it increasingly advantageous to breach systems containing confidential customer data.
“The collection of these experiences has provided me with an incredible view into all sides of the cyber security challenges we are facing today from the most tactical to the most strategic perspectives,” said Crisler.
Dark Cubed, by its own admission, is a very early stage tech company that is comprised of a handful of highly sought after cybersecurity insiders. Any one of them could be seemingly working as a highly paid security consultant, elsewhere. Instead, their new venture, based out of a Va.-based startup accelerator, involves a fresh environment that’s slightly different from their accustomed to rank-and-file military-style command chain.
At the moment, Dark Cubed is operating in a closed-beta. The team works out of the Bunker Labs DC accelerator in Alexandria, Va., a veteran-focused entrepreneurs organization that offers co-working space and business consulting services to help members grow their companies.
Crisler described Dark Cubed as a sort of “Swiss Army Knife for cybersecurity.” He added, “we don’t try to do everything that the enterprise products on the market do, but we focus on doing the right things to get the mid-market visibility into their level of cyber threat, how it is changing, and which things they should focus on with their very limited resources.”
Founded in 2014, Dark Cubed will soon begin to publicly sell its first product. This product offers a number of digital security tools connected to continuous network monitoring, threat intelligence identification, threat & risk assessment and workflow notations.
The software automatically collects information related to realtime inbound and outbound network activity (IPs and domains) and cross-sections it against a verifiable list of noted bad actors. Associated patterns and user access trends can be tagged with threat alerts that then help customers understand and identify “real” risks.
All of this cybersecurity infrastructure data is shared within a closed, encrypted network that filters out client identification, explained Crisler.
The end result, is a total, shared, back-end platform that is constantly updating and adding new threat data so that customers can more quickly identity malicious users. In other words, the more customers that employ Dark Cubed, the stronger the company’s solution becomes.
Additionally, in a crowded and marketing heavy industry like cybersecurity, Dark Cubed’s product appears unique at face value because of the company’s obvious effort to create an elegant user interface (UI). Crisler explained that he had a San Fransisco-based design firm custom build the UI to make it very user-friendly.
A recent study conducted by Tanium and Nasdaq, entitled The Accountability Gap: Cybersecurity & Building a Culture of Responsibility, found that 91 percent of “high[ly] vulnerable” board members can’t interpret a cybersecurity report. Crisler will hope that Dark Cubed’s platform will cut back on that figure, as he describe it to be perfect for rookie security analysts and first year hires.
Access to Dark Cubed’s first product will cost between $2,500 and $5,000 depending on the bandwidth of traffic, said Crisler. The company has been bootstrapped to date and is cash-flow negative.