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16 January, 2015 - 09:58 By Tony Quested

Cambridge companies advise Obama on cyber security

Nicole Egan

Nicole Eagan, CEO of Cambridge UK cyber security company Darktrace, was at the White House today advising US President Barack Obama.

Eagan revealed that Darktrace was significantly expanding its US team and had seen a surge of contracts from American organisations seeking the company’s inside track advice on cyber security issues.

She accompanied UK PM David Cameron on the Washington mission – just weeks before Darktrace opens a dedicated DC office in February.

Due to growing customer demand, Darktrace is also announcing the appointment of two additional cyber threat intelligence experts recruited from the National Security Agency (NSA) to join Darktrace’s team of cyber security experts.

These include senior members of the UK’s and US’s intelligence agencies including the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Security Service (MI5) and the NSA. 

As cyber threat analysts, they will rely on Darktrace’s machine learning and Bayesian probability theory developed by researchers in Cambridge to protect customers against serious cyber threats. Darktrace has delivered over 120 threat intelligence reports to customers in the US.

The company began its American operations in early 2014 and has already installed its solution in multiple Fortune 500 companies and mid-sized businesses in energy, financial services, healthcare, and transportation. In the final quarter of 2014, Darktrace expanded into Canada and brought the number of relationships with partners who specialise in delivering security solutions in North America to 12.

Eagan said: “We are seeing a global demand for Darktrace’s Enterprise Immune System approach to address the increasing challenges faced by companies in the United States and elsewhere, as hostile agents develop increasingly stealthy and sophisticated attacks on valued data and IP.

“Last year we saw the damage that these threats can cause to hard earned reputations and how they undermine the trust consumers have in a company and its products. Traditional methods of security are no longer enough and it is time for a new machine learning approach that can identify cyber incidents in real time before they turn into a crisis.”

Darktrace’s American expansion builds on the momentum already gained in Europe where it has over 50 customer deployments, including Virgin Trains and Drax among a number of FTSE 100 companies.

Darktrace now has offices in Cambridge and London UK, Milan, New York, Paris, San Francisco and soon Washington DC.

Cambridge Intelligence CEO Joe Parry is also in the UK delegation. Cambridge Intelligence specialises in technologies to find meaning in complex connected data and already works with the US government.

The trip to Washington followed a similar appointment in Downing Street last week, which saw Parry take part in cyber security roundtable discussions with several of the Prime Minister’s senior advisors.

In both ventures, Parry urged the need to make more extensive use of data analysis and visualisation techniques at both a government and industry level  to achieve greater cyber security.  

Parry said: “A better understanding of the connectivity within the data is crucial to tracing the modus operandi of bad actors within networks.

“Increasingly, our technology is used to visualise cyber security data, such as suspicious or fraudulent account activity, the digital footprint of online transactions, and longer-term threat behaviours.

“We are grateful to the Prime Minister for his support of innovative smaller businesses. We are already operational in the US but this visit has helped us strengthen our existing relationships and forge new ones. 

“We are looking forward to playing our part in building more comprehensive defensive capabilities with both commercial partners and government agencies.”

Cameron said: “The UK is already leading the way in cyber security and this government is committed to ensuring it continues to be a leader in this multi-billion dollar industry.  

“That’s why on this trip I’m showcasing some of the leading UK cyber security companies including Darktrace and Cambridge Intelligence from Cambridge who can benefit from the chance to meet investors and build their business in the US.”

In Washington, UK CEOs shared latest cyber security thinking and discussed collaboration opportunities with high-ranking officials from across the US federal government and security agencies. 

Other highlights included roundtable discussions with industry leaders from the American Bankers Association and meetings with some of the world’s largest defence and military contractors.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Darktrace CEO, Nicole Eagan

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