As organizations across the spectrum place a growing emphasis on IT modernization, optimizing existing IT systems and developing new architecture is critical to efficient operations and minimizing budgets.
WashingtonExec spoke with Thinklogical’s CEO Joe Pajer on how organizations need to “think logically” about IT networks and architecture, common misconceptions the public has about cybertechnology and hacking, and what he believes will be most disruptive to the cybersecurity market during the next five years.
WashingtonExec: What do you see as the next big IT innovation for the 21st century workforce? How do you anticipate these technologies being managed to ensure their security?
Joe Pajer: The proliferation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) information is radically changing the landscape of the military and intelligence sector. The United States and its allies have long been following a strategy of information superiority to defend against a broad range of threats, whether they be asymmetrical, nuclear or mass armies. A herculean effort has been directed at collecting information through satellites, unmanned vehicles and the monitoring of social media and other information sources. Much of this information is video. It is estimated that United States collects over a petabyte of video surveillance from the Middle East – every day. Ultimately, this video information needs to be processed and analyzed in a manner that not only helps to understand an event, but also prevent it.
The processing and analysis of the information most often happens in a secure operations center, often with joint forces (across branches as well as countries) working together. The number and size of these centers is growing exponentially throughout the world. The current focus of the men and women who design and command these centers is “Instant Situational Awareness;” that is, “how can I use the ISR information sources available to me to give me a full and instant picture of the situation?” Historically, militaries would seek to understand an event and formulate a response over a period of days, weeks or even months. Today’s global environment demands an instantaneous understanding and response.
Technology is rapidly evolving on four fronts to create Instant Situational Awareness: storage, and especially high speed access to that storage; processing power; software analytics; and high speed, secure delivery of the information to the end users who need it. It is in this last area that Thinklogical makes its mark: Thinklogical is in the business of enabling, securing and simplifying the management and distribution of multiple sources of information with multiple classifications (Top Secret, Secret, Unclassified, etc.).
The issue is that mainstream IT technologies are not efficient in delivering multiple sources of information when they are at multiple classifications. This greatly impairs the productivity of the individual analyst, as well as the ability for individual analysts to collaborate. Any secure operations center designer or manager will openly avow that this is a major, and very frustrating issue. Thinklogical resolves the issue, creating a highly efficient and flexible environment where any source of information may be instantaneously displayed at any end point, while giving the administrator to restrict a source from being displayed as the need arises. As such, Thinklogical is the technology that is being used across the world in hundreds of these centers today.
WashingtonExec: What would you say has changed most substantially in the security industry since you first started until now?
Joe Pajer: I would say the evolution of video and ISR information, and the explosive growth of secure operations centers from three perspectives: 1) the number of sources of information and data that feed these centers 2) the number of stations and rooms in each center required for personnel to analyze this data, and 3) the number of centers found in the defense and intelligence communities, especially globally.
WashingtonExec: What is something most people don’t know about you?
Joe Pajer: I skipped a year of middle school, entering high school a year earlier than normal – and ultimately was able to achieve both a BS and MS from Carnegie Mellon by the time I was 22.
WashingtonExec: What do you foresee as your largest challenge during the coming months?
Joe Pajer: Educating potential users in the global defense and intelligence community about the enhanced security, operational efficiencies, and cost savings that can be had by implementing a Thinklogical system. In the first case, we are entering several new countries where Thinklogical has never been deployed but is needed. We are making significant progress, but it is hard work over a long period of time. In the second case, we still find many, many situations in the US defense and intelligence sector where Thinklogical is not known, or not known well enough!
WashingtonExec: How would you describe your leadership style?
Joe Pajer: I have been described before as “having a resolute-yet-thoughtful manner evoking a cross between a hard pressing hockey coach and the humorist Garrison Keillor.” I buy that.
WashingtonExec: What will be most disruptive to the cybersecurity market during the next five years?
Joe Pajer: The proliferation of mobile devices and the movement towards “BYOD” – bring your own device – in the enterprise can dramatically increase worker productivity, but creates new challenges for IT management to maintain a consistent security profile across these geographically dispersed and technologically diverse platforms.
But individuals using their own personal technology in secure environments is not always the most practical solution for certain applications. For organizations that need to manage and distribute classified data as part of daily operations, BYOD can become a potential point of vulnerability. In use cases where mission-critical decision-making across teams or departments is a requirement, there is no substitute for an environment where multiple stakeholders can review multiple classifications of video and data (unclassified, secret, top secret, etc.) in a collaborative way for analysis, discussion and action.
This is the world of secure operations centers and command and control facilities, and this is the area where Thinklogical has developed unique technologies to simplify the management and distribution of this classified and unclassified data for instant situational awareness, improved group collaboration and decision-making, and a streamlined IT infrastructure leading to cost savings, and do this all in a highly secure way.
WashingtonExec: What’s something most people misunderstand about cybersecurity technology and hacking?
Joe Pajer: Cybersecurity is not only about sophisticated unauthorized penetrations from outside the network. Edward Snowden – who was a vetted, trusted and authorized insider at the facility where he worked — wreaked havoc by just plugging a USB drive into a laptop and downloading files.
The simplicity of that act in some ways makes it as equally challenging to stop as a complex external cyber-attack. How do create reliable security mechanisms to prevent people who shouldn’t get access to data from doing so, while maintaining easy access for those who actually need that data to do their job? That is a big part of what our customers are asking for to help them navigate these challenges, and it’s something we work on daily.