O’Malley touts Md. cybersecurity innovation in defending against internal threats

Gov. Martin O’Malley highlighted Maryland on Tuesday as a fertile ground for cybersecurity business by visiting a company that designs software to detect internal threats to organizations — software the company CEO described as “a way to look for the Snowdens of the world,” a reference to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

The company, RedOwl Analytics in Baltimore, specializes in organizing data produced by employees such as emails, phone calls, text messages and expense reports, into a more easily investigated form. CEO Guy Filippelli described such data as “digital exhaust” that now gets stored in different archives of a company.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about being able to take all of this digital exhaust and put it in one place, be able to look back at it, be able to monitor it,” Filippelli said.

The company was founded in 2011. Last year, it was one of three companies to win a $100,000 grant as part of the state’s Invest Maryland Challenge, a business competition that awards grants to help startup companies. The company has 25 employees. Filippelli said his company’s software could help alert an information security team about unusual behavior resulting in the release of sensitive information of a company or organization by its own employees.

“On the government side, I mean, the insider threat thing is obvious, so taking RedOwl into the realm of insider threat” can be “a way to look for the Snowdens of the world,” he said.

O’Malley described the company as part of a growing number of businesses in Maryland that focus on innovation and security, especially in the area of cybersecurity.

“You allow financial companies or any organization, really, to make sense of the digital exhaust for forensic purposes and for the ability to identify internal threats and to identify, perhaps, where intellectual property is being sent out of the company, and all of those are talents and innovations that are so very needed throughout our entire economy,” O’Malley said.

The Democratic governor also underscored the significance of the NSA’s presence in Maryland in helping to create a climate for the development of such technology. Snowden is a former NSA contract systems analyst who leaked a massive volume of top-secret NSA documents.

“As far as Snowden himself, internal threats are nothing new to the country,” O’Malley said. “You find them all the time. What makes this one different is that it’s in the cyber and information age when individuals — through the click of a few buttons — have access to all sorts of files that they would not have had physical access to in the days when everything had to be on paper or carbon copies, and we’ll have to make the policy adjustments to deal with all the balancing and rebalancing that’s required to protect our individual freedoms as well as our nation’s security.”

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