Veterans’ insights foster cybersecurity innovation

A group of veterans has set out to improve cybersecurity for .gov and all of .com — and the merry band may just do it, armed with “knowledge” and led by a former food services executive.

The big-thinking foursome have had IT success before. One of the three co-founders, Will Dantzler, an Air Force Academy graduate, previously founded NetBase Corporation, a 20-year old software company that provides Web-based workforce management solutions for federal agencies and commercial companies. The other two co-founders, David Leigh (the president) and Elvis Barrera (the CIO) were senior officers at NetBase.

{mosads}Together, the trio built a collaborative platform called Rofori, which Trekkies will appreciate as the Vulcan word for “knowledge.”

Rofori Corporation software enables teams to manage cyber events, but it also importantly measures the productivity and contribution of the team members. And, unlike some other programs in the marketplace, there are built-in escalation features to ensure that just because one person is asleep at the switch, it doesn’t mean the whole enterprise will go down.

Interestingly, they’ve built all this on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Framework approach to cybersecurity and risk management. So, as an organization uses the program, it automatically generates a Framework assessment that provides the CEO with insight into just how the organization is doing in terms of beginning to manage its cyber risk.

That’s where the food service guy comes in.

Chuck O’Dell is a former naval flight officer who found his way into an impressive career as an executive at Marriott International. He merged his division with Sodexho and he became the president and CEO of Sodexho Marriott Corporation, the largest food and facilities company in the world.

As O’Dell oversaw that Fortune 100 company, he realized he was flying blind without the tools to provide insight about the day-to-day internal operations. Even though O’Dell received operating information from six division presidents and multiple corporate staff, he had no regular, measureable and objective information as to what was happening inside his company on a daily basis. It was enough to keep a guy awake at night.

Several years later, O’Dell is CEO of Rofori with a total of five people — a bit smaller workforce than the 103,000 people he oversaw at Sodexho Marriott. But he’s more excited about the mission, calling Rofori software “a solution for the fundamental business problem in the C-suite; lack of visibility into how the crown jewels are being protected.

“Our solution changes the CEO’s perspective from security oversight to insight.”

The product is in beta and Rofori is talking to commercial integrators and federal agencies. Leigh made the invite list for the president’s cyber summit in Palo Alto, Calif., where he met with potential partners as well as In-Q-Tel and venture capitalists.

“We’ve leveraged the Framework by breaking down the risk management process into steps that can be managed and measured, and give the CEO real-time information on how and what the cybersecurity teams are doing to protect the enterprise,” O’Dell explains. “That’s something that I never had running a mega-company.

“Now, I sleep a lot better — but I know there are a whole lot of agency heads and CEOs that still don’t.”

Bond is a former under secretary of Commerce for technology and a former CEO of the trade association TechAmerica. Today he is president and CEO of Bond & Associates, a technology and healthcare lobbying firm with offices in Washington and Silicon Valley.

Tags cybersecurity Veterans White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection
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