How This Entrepreneur Seeks to Disrupt Traditional Cybersecurity Research
The founder and CEO of TAG Cyber shares how his global research and advisory company is supporting enterprise cyber security teams and commercial security vendors around the world.
Ed Amoroso served as AT&T's Chief Information Security Officer for 30 plus years. At 60 years old, he founded TAG Cyber and says he's just getting started. He sat down with Jessica Abo to talk about his transition from a corporate America executive to startup founder and how his company is disrupting traditional cybersecurity research.
Jessica Abo: Can you tell us a little bit about your company?
Ed Amoroso: I got the opportunity to work at AT&T, where I served in the top job protecting infrastructure there. I got to grow up and learn how critical infrastructure is protected. You've probably noticed that cybersecurity has become a big topic in the last couple of decades or so. It was a big job. It was rewarding. I loved every minute, but I'd always had this sort of nagging feeling that I wanted to try something on my own, preferably to disrupt.
So one day I told my wife, "I think I'm going to quit the greatest job in the world and try something on my own." She thought I was nuts, but I did it. And then next thing I know, it was me and my backpack. I had no customers, I had no office, I had no revenue. But now, just a few years later, we've got a nice team, about 35 folks and growing, and making a nice revenue from 100-something customers. We work in the area of cybersecurity, providing research and advisory, and it's been difficult, but amazingly rewarding.
How would you say you're disrupting traditional cybersecurity research?
We've taken some of the elements of modern computing, cloud, on-demand and 24/7 and SaaS. We've combined the urgency that everybody's used to in the modern internet with the experience and expertise of people who've been doing this for a while and suddenly we have a very disruptive model. We're a bunch of people who've been disrupted so many times in telecom. Can you think of an industry that's been more disrupted than that? We went from being disrupted to being the disruptors. And I got to tell you, it is a plate of delicious enjoyment. So that's what we do every day. We're disrupting these very traditional, very conserved, very stayed business models in companies that are 1,000 times bigger than us, but we've got just as much experience as they do. We know what it is to be sitting in the largest seats in the largest companies, so every day, we just pull ourselves closer and that's where the real reward comes in. We know how the movie ends. We know we'll be successful, it's just a matter of how quickly we can get there. So it's really been quite fun.
What are some of your cybersecurity predictions for 2022?
We think the next big attacks are going to be on industrial controls. It's going to be factories, manufacturing systems, government militaries that will be seized by adversaries and brought down. You know how businesses now are brought to their knees with ransomware? Well, you're going to see industrial plants and things like, it could be transportation, whatever, brought down like your flight won't go because the airline is down. It's going to be frightening and it's going to be troublesome. When we extrapolate even further beyond that, we see cyberwar and I'm not a big fear and uncertainty type person, but we are on a collision course with nation-states going after each other in cyber because it makes perfect sense.
And what's the good news?
The best part about cyber security is that you're able to take technology, the kinds of exciting things that we're all used to now, mobility, cloud and so on, and maybe use it to protect things. We do that every day. So with cyber defenders both in government and business, we try to bring modern technology to them so that they can get ahead of the hackers. It's extremely fun when you can take these new technologies, the cloud being an obvious example, and make it part of the defense instead of the kinds of tools that are used by hackers. So that's what we get every day and try to do. We try to make the defense have a little bit more advantage than they've had in the past.