Because of their battle-tested experience in combating cybersecurity threats in real-time, former members of the intelligence community (IC) are prime candidates for protecting the private sector from cyber attacks, fraud, and Chinese IP theft, a former SEAL Team 6 member-turned serial entrepreneur tells The Sociable.
In this story we discuss:
- Why anyone would trust anything coming from the intelligence community
- Who is responsible for identifying and stopping Chinese IP theft that you see in headlines
- Which cybersecurity tools could help prevent voter fraud
- How tech talent coming from the intelligence community is battle-tested to protect the private sector
Cybersecurity tech and talent pulled from the intelligence community is helping the private sector combat malicious cyber activity from adversaries like China and Russia, according to Mike Janke, a former SEAL Team 6 member of nine years.
“Unseen to most of the world’s population is there’s a non-kinetic cyber war going on” — Mike Janke
A serial entrepreneur, Janke is the Co-Founder of DataTribe — a startup foundry that pulls tech and talent out of the IC to provide cybersecurity and data science solutions for the private sector.
Janke sees what few people see, a “non-kinetic cyber war” that is raging, and he believes that those who come from the IC are the best equipped to help protect the private sector from cyber attacks by turning offensive solutions into defensive ones.
“Unseen to most of the world’s population is there’s a non-kinetic cyber war going on,” Janke told The Sociable.
The digital warriors who were on the front lines of the non-kinetic cyber war against adversaries like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, are in a unique position to help the private sector, according to Janke.
“You have these brilliant technologists who were on that front line. They have actual experience in the real world against the rest of the world’s best people” — Mike Janke
“You have these brilliant technologists who were on that front line. They have actual experience in the real world against the rest of the world’s best people,” the former SEAL Team 6 member added.
But with decades of scandals, why would anyone trust anything coming from the intelligence community?
Why trust anything coming from the intelligence community?
There are 17 agencies that make up the IC, and looking at the CIA alone one can find that the CIA hacked Samsung Smart TVs to spy on conversations, installed tracking beacons on factory-fresh iPhones, and for years has played a role in overthrowing democratically-elected governments the world over.
“We’re building software and products that have no intrinsic commercial value of monitoring to the intelligence community” — Mike Janke
Janke agrees that some IC agencies have lost a lot of credibility, but he argues that their tech talent is the best in the world at what it does, that DataTribe has an entirely different company culture, and that his portfolio companies are 100% and do not build any surveillance or communication tech that could be useful to the IC.
“We’re building software and products that have no intrinsic commercial value of monitoring to the intelligence community,” Janke explained.
“With these companies, you’re talking about defense, or analytics, or AI. There’s no monitoring stuff on it. It would be of no value to the intelligence agencies. If we were building communications software, cameras, or drones, nobody would buy them.”
One way in which DataTribe looks to foster a culture of innovation unlike that of the IC is that when forging companies, the startup foundry blends the talent from the IC with experienced technologists from Silicon Valley.
“Remember, these are brilliant technologists, but we’ll pair them with a three-time CEO, or a chief marketing officer from somewhere like Google. We’ll bring in a product manager from Paypal, so that the blend of the team is solely focused. It’s rare when the actual technical founders are the CEOs, so we blend the team,” he said.
DataTribe’s companies are all commercial enterprises, and they can help defend the private sector from cyber attacks that could have devastating effects on the economy, where Chinese intellectual property theft is rampant.
Rooting out Chinese IP Theft
China steals intellectual property from governments, academia, and businesses to prop up its own military and economy.
The Chinese Communist Party gives scholarships, grants, and other incentives for researchers and business people alike to share their knowledge with the Chinese government.
You can see the weekly scandals on the DOJ website where professors at major US universities are being indicted for not disclosing their financial ties to China.
“Many of the headlines concerning Chinese nationals being indicted for IP theft are a result of Strider’s technology” — Mike Janke
DataTribe’s fastest growing portfolio company ever, Strider, is the world’s first technology company enabling organizations to combat intellectual property theft and supply chain vulnerabilities beyond the cyber domain.
“Many of the headlines concerning Chinese nationals being indicted for IP theft are a result of Strider’s technology,” Janke confirmed.
Utilizing Strider’s technology platform and proprietary datasets, Quantum Dragon revealed in December how China leveraged foreign quantum science labs and government talent recruitment programs to advance its military quantum applications.
— Bob Ackerman (@BobAckerman) December 5, 2019
“Strider is able to walk into major corporations and immediately show their high-risk, medium risk and targeted employees who are working on their most sensitive intellectual property — all without ever touching the corporate network. There has never existed a technology like this before,” said Janke.
The team has built a unique technology with over 20 years of collected data on foreign governments, personnel and organizations that have infiltrated Western companies with the sole goal of bringing back cutting edge innovation — stealing Western IP.
This is one instance where Janke sees DataTribe’s companies filling a gap to protect commercial interests with economic value where government agencies fail to do so.
“The reason why we build 100% commercial is because in the Western world, our intelligence services are not tasked with helping the commercial. China, Russia, North Korea — they use their intelligence services for economic gains,” said Janke.
“Our CIA, NSA, and DARPAs cannot create something and give it to our corporate world to help protect it. That’s where we come in,” he added.
Mail-in voter fraud and election security
US President Donald Trump recently claimed that mail-in voting would lead to fraud and that foreign countries like China could just copy and print ballots to send out.
Janke believes that mail-in voter fraud could be tackled by cybersecurity solutions that could verify all ballots after they’ve been cast.
“You could send out a gazillion fake [ballots], but at the processing centers, the AI would determine their validity” — Mike Janke
While there may be limited solutions for preventing the illegal copying and printing of ballots, technology like AI could verify the validity of the cast ballots.
“You can have an AI cybersecurity that can immediately check US death records, state death records, address records, drivers licenses, passports, social security, and it would detect the ones that are fake. It would detect the ones that have been dead for 22 years. It would detect a made-up name and address,” Janke explained.
“When a vote ballot comes in, it can determine if that is a real ballot tied to a real, verified person.
“You could send out a gazillion fake ones, but at the processing centers, the AI would determine their validity.”
However, it doesn’t look like there is much hope for anything to implemented before the 2020 presidential elections, as Janke lamented, “for a state or local or federal government to adopt this, I’m going to be 75 years old before that shows up.”
What’s so special about talent pulled from the intelligence community?
The former SEAL Team 6 fighter co-built DataTribe to win every fight by learning from offensive tactics and strategies in order to develop defensive ones for cybersecurity in the commercial sector.
“I’m a former Seal TEAM 6 guy. I don’t have a college degree, and I don’t like fair fights,” said Janke, adding, “So, everything that we have done has been to build DataTribe to make it an unfair fight.”
When members of the IC develop a technology to go on the offensive, they identify all new cybersecurity vulnerabilities that the whole world is susceptible to.
That’s where DataTribe found the need to pull tech and talent out of the IC, so that the vulnerabilities that the IC identified could be applied to the defensive side in the private sector.
“I’m a former Seal TEAM 6 guy. I don’t have a college degree, and I don’t like fair fights” — Mike Janke
“Most of our companies come out of the offensive side,” said Janke, adding, “We build products where the learnings and the epiphanies come from the offensive side.”
And the talent coming from the IC is the best of the best. These people were recruited right out of college, or were geniuses that figured out how to hack something important, so they were pulled aside to work for the IC, and they have decades of experience to bring to the private sector.
DataTribe recently had two of its portfolio companies named “Tech Pioneers” by the World Economic Forum, Dragos and Enveil.
Janke argues that the talent coming out of the IC has been battle hardened from fighting the world’s foremost adversaries, and that when paired with the brightest minds in Silicon Valley, their solutions are best poised to protect the private sector.