Corporate espionage has likely been happening since there were merchants in the Agora of Ancient Greece. Fast forward to today, cyber thieves boldly steal personal data and corporate secrets from the internet while holding victims hostage with bitcoin blackmail. These trends have led to the rise of a whole new cybersecurity industry to protect companies from cyber threats.
It is in that environment where SSIC Powered By LAUNCH member Nate Lesser first dipped his toe. As the former Deputy Director of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), Nate started his own business in May 2018 called Cypient Black because he saw a gaping hole in the market – protecting executives, and other high-value targets, from cyber-attack. “There is a wide, and growing, divide between corporate and personal cybersecurity protections,” believes Nate. Cypient Black reduces corporate risk by protecting executives and their families with a complete platform of security capabilities including automation, advanced analytics, and a deep understanding of user behavior. “Most consumers can’t or won’t do this for themselves,” he adds.
Cyber security criminals employ whatever means possible to siphon data from unsuspecting executives and unsuspected devices. Factor in the rise of personal mobile phones and tablets by all family members, along with other Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the home, and people have dramatically increased the risk of sensitive data being stolen. “We’ve seen a targeted attack on an executive’s home network and personal printer that resulted in the theft of sensitive corporate financial information,” explains Nate. He tells another story of an executive’s daughter’s phone being hacked to identify her location. Hecklers were sent by a protest group to that location as a threat to the executive. These stories sound like they were made for TV, but they happen in real life.
Naturally curious, Nate studied engineering at Columbia University after growing up tinkering with his parents’ stereo components. Stints with the federal government and Booz Allen Hamilton peaked his interest in cybersecurity while his two entrepreneurial parents influenced him to break out on his own and become a CEO. He also relies on lessons learned in Kim Scott’s book “Radical Candor” and Steve Blank’s book “The Startup Owner’s Manual” to help his business grow.
Today, Nate’s company employs 5 people plus other engineers and advisors. He enjoys being a member of SSIC Powered By Launch, and his employees take advantage of what downtown Silver Spring has to offer. “There’s pizza, coffee, ice cream and beer all within walking distance. It’s perfect for the startup ecosystem and to attract talent,” he says.
Nate Lesser and his company Cypient Black are working on cyber threats and changing the dialogue in the cyber community to focus on people. Soon, this will be the de facto standard of care of all high-level employees.