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Josh Lefkowitz
Chief Executive Officer
Josh Lefkowitz executes the company’s strategic vision to empower organizations with Business Risk Intelligence (BRI). He has worked extensively with authorities to track and analyze terrorist groups. Mr. Lefkowitz also served as a consultant to the FBI’s senior management team and worked for a top tier, global investment bank. Mr. Lefkowitz holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BA from Williams College.
Evan Kohlmann
Chief Innovation Officer
Evan Kohlmann focuses on product innovation at Flashpoint where he leverages fifteen years’ experience tracking Al-Qaida, ISIS, and other terrorist groups. He has consulted for the US Department of Defense, the US Department of Justice, the Australian Federal Police, and Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, among others. Mr. Kohlmann holds a JD from the Univ. of Pennsylvania Law School and a BSFS in International Politics from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown Univ.
Josh Devon
Chief Operating Officer / VP Product
Josh Devon focuses on product vision and strategy at Flashpoint while ensuring the company’s departments function synergistically during its rapid growth. He also works to ensure that customers receive best in class products, services, and support. Previously, Mr. Devon co-founded the SITE Intelligence Group where he served as Assistant Director. He holds an MA from SAIS at Johns Hopkins Univ. At the Univ. of Pennsylvania, he received a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and a BA in English from the College of Arts and Sciences.
Jennifer Leggio
Chief Marketing Officer / VP Operations
Jennifer Leggio is responsible for Flashpoint’s marketing, customer acquisition, and operations. Ms. Leggio has more than 20 years of experience driving marketing, communications and go-to-market strategies in the cybersecurity industry. She’s previously held senior leadership roles at Digital Shadows, Cisco, Sourcefire, and Fortinet. She’s been a contributor to Forbes and ZDNet, and has spoken on the importance of coordinated disclosure at DEF CON and Hack in the Box, and on threat actor “publicity” trends at RSA Conference, Gartner Security Summit, and SXSW Interactive.
Chris Camacho
Chief Strategy Officer
Chris Camacho leads the company’s client engagement and development team, which includes customer success, business development, strategic integrations and the FPCollab sharing community. With over 15 years of cybersecurity leadership experience, he has spearheaded initiatives across Operational Strategy, Incident Response, Threat Management, and Security Operations to ensure cyber risk postures align with business goals. Most recently as a Senior Vice President of Information Security at Bank of America, Mr. Camacho was responsible for overseeing the Threat Management Program. An entrepreneur, Mr. Camacho also serves as CEO for NinjaJobs: a career-matching community for elite cybersecurity talent. He has a BS in Decision Sciences & Management of Information Systems from George Mason University.
Lisa Iadanza
Chief People Officer
Lisa M. Iadanza leads all functional areas of People Operations at Flashpoint, including human resources, talent acquisition & management, employee engagement, and developing high performance teams. In addition to collaborating with the executive team to drive strategic growth, she plays an integral role in fostering Flashpoint’s culture and mission. Driven by her passions for mentorship, employee advocacy, and talent development, Ms. Iadanza has more than twenty years of experience in building, scaling, and leading human resources functions. Prior to Flashpoint, she held leadership roles at Conde Nast, Terra Technology, and FreeWheel. She is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and holds a bachelor’s degree in management with concentrations in human resources and marketing from State University of New York at Binghamton.
Rob Reznick
VP of Finance and Corporate Development
Rob Reznick leads the finance, accounting, and corporate development teams at Flashpoint. Rob previously served as Director of Finance & Accounting for 1010data (acquired by Advance/Newhouse), and Director of Finance for Financial Guard (acquired by Legg Mason) after prior work in forensic accounting and dispute consulting. Mr. Reznick is a Certified Public Accountant and holds an MBA and MAcc from the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University, and a BBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Lance James
Chief Scientist / VP Engineering
Lance James is responsible for leading Flashpoint’s technology development. Prior to joining Flashpoint in 2015, he was the Head of Cyber Intelligence at Deloitte & Touche LLP. Mr. James has been an active member of the security community for over 20 years and enjoys working creatively together with technology teams to design and develop impactful solutions that disrupt online threats.
Brian Costello
SVP Global Sales and Solution Architecture
Brian Costello, a 20-year information technology and security solutions veteran, is responsible for leading the Global Sales, Solution Architecture, and Professional Services teams at Flashpoint. Throughout his career, Brian has successfully built security and cloud teams that have provided customers with innovative technology solutions, exceeded targets and consistently grown business year over year. Prior to Flashpoint, Brian led a global security and cloud vertical practice for Verizon. Brian also held senior leadership roles at Invincea, Risk Analytics and Cybertrust. Brian received his B.A. from George Mason University.
Tom Hofmann
VP Intelligence
Tom Hofmann leads the intelligence directorate that is responsible for the collection, analysis, production, and dissemination of Deep and Dark Web data. He works closely with clients to prioritize their intelligence requirements and ensures internal Flashpoint operations are aligned to those needs. Mr. Hofmann has been at the forefront of cyber intelligence operations in the commercial, government, and military sectors, and is renowned for his ability to drive effective intelligence operations to support offensive and defensive network operations.
Jake Wells
VP, Client Engagement & Development
Jake Wells leads strategic integrations and information sharing as part of the client engagement & development team, which serves as an internal advocate for our government and commercial clients to ensure Flashpoint’s intelligence solutions meet their evolving needs. He leverages a decade of experience running cyber and counterterrorism investigations, most recently with the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, to maximize the value customers generate from our products and services. Mr. Wells holds an MA from Columbia University and a BA from Emory University.
Brian Brown
VP Business Development
Brian Brown is responsible for the overall direction of strategic sales and development supporting Flashpoint’s largest clients. In his role, Mr. Brown focuses on designing and executing growth-oriented sales penetration strategies across multiple vertical markets, including both Government and Commercial, supporting Flashpoint’s Sales and Business Development Teams. An experienced entrepreneur, Mr. Brown also serves as CSO for NinjaJobs, a private community created to match elite cybersecurity talent with top tier global jobs and also advise growth-stage cybersecurity companies.
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Steve Leightell
Steve started his career in Internet sales in the early 1990s and was always a top sales rep before transitioning to business development. By the early 2000s, he was the Director of Business Development at DWL, where he managed a team that built partnerships with Accenture, Oracle, Tata Consulting, Wipro, Cognizant and IBM. Steve designed the channel and strategy that ultimately culminated in the acquisition of DWL by IBM in 2005. He went on to lead a global team within IBM that was responsible for major system integrator partnerships. In 2008, he left IBM to found a niche consulting firm focused on business development for SaaS organizations. Steve holds a BA in anthropology and sociology from Carleton University in Ottawa.
Ellie Wheeler
Ellie Wheeler is a Partner at Greycroft and is based in the firm’s New York office. Prior to joining Greycroft, Ellie worked in a similar role evaluating investment opportunities at Lowercase Capital. Ellie also worked at Cisco in Corporate Development doing acquisitions, investments, and strategy within the unified communications, enterprise software, mobile, and video sectors. While at Cisco, she was involved in multiple acquisitions and investments, including PostPath, Jabber, Xobni, and Tandberg. She began her career in growth capital private equity at Summit Partners in Boston. Ellie graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with a BA in Psychology and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Glenn McGonnigle
Glenn McGonnigle is a General Partner at TechOperators. Prior to launching TechOperators in 2008, Glenn was CEO of VistaScape Security Systems, a venture-backed provider of enterprise intelligent video surveillance software. He lead the company through its successful sale to Siemens Building Technologies. Previously, Glenn was a co-founder and senior executive of Atlanta-based Internet Security Systems (ISS) where he helped raise initial venture capital and launch the business. For 7 years, he led the business development team in developing sales channels and entering the managed security services market. During his tenure, the company grew from startup to revenues of over $225 million and was later acquired by IBM for $1.3 billion.
Peter George
Peter George has an established track record of building companies that deliver sustained growth and profits and in identifying critical worldwide partnership opportunities that strategically expand market share. Prior to becoming President and CEO of Fidelis Security Systems in 2008, Mr. George spent the last seven years as President and CEO of Crossbeam Systems, the market leader in the high-end segment of the Unified Threat Management market, where he took the company from being a pre-revenue start-up to over $50 million in revenue. Previously, he was President of Nortel Networks Enterprise Business in Europe, Middle-East, and Africa, responsible for managing more than 5,000 employees and $2 billion in revenue. Mr. George came to Nortel via their 1998 acquisition of Bay Networks where he was serving as vice president of European operations. During his tenure at Wellfleet and Bay, he played key sales executive roles in New England and in Europe. Prior to joining Wellfleet, Mr. George served as the Northeast regional manager and GM of Canada at 3Com Corporation, and also held senior management positions at Ungerman Bass. He received his BA from the College of the Holy Cross, and has done graduate studies at Harvard and Oxford University.
Brendan Hannigan
Brendan joined Polaris Partners in 2016 as an entrepreneur partner. In this role, he focuses on funding and founding companies in the technology sector with a concentration in cloud, analytics, and cybersecurity. Brendan is a co-founder of Sonrai Security and chairman of Twistlock, both Polaris investments. He also currently serves on the board of Bitsight Technologies and Flashpoint. A 25 year technology industry veteran, Brendan was most recently the general manager of IBM Security. Under Brendan’s leadership, IBM Security grew significantly faster than the overall security market to become the number one enterprise security provider in the world with almost $2B of annual revenue.
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Cyber Jihadists Dabble in DDoS: Assessing the Threat

Blog
July 13, 2017

Recent events suggest that while cyber jihadists appear to remain of low skill and under-sophisticated, their toolset is expanding. Between December 2016 and January 2017, two distinct pro-ISIS cyber threat groups experimented with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and achieved limited apparent successes. Although the attacks have since ceased, these actors have expressed interest in engaging in similar and potentially more offensive cyber activities in the future. Indeed, the DDoS attacks that occurred previously provide visibility into these actors’ targeting strategies, limitations, and capabilities — all of which can help us assess the scope and credibility of the risks they represent.

Background

In December 2016, when one member of a top-tier ISIS Deep Web forum first discussed the possibility of DDoS, the initiative quickly gained support. Five weeks later, after the group’s ringleader finished developing a proprietary DDoS tool dubbed “Caliphate Cannon,” the group launched its first DDoS attack. As recently as late May 2017, the tool’s author referenced a new version in development, suggesting that more attacks may follow.

Around the same time, another pro-ISIS group known as the United Cyber Caliphate (UCC) also claimed credit for DDoS attacks. Although UCC did not provide any details regarding their attack methodology, the group likely used a booter/stresser — also known as a “DDoS-for-hire” service. Some of this activity was captured by a “honeypot” — a tool that monitors attack traffic from these types of services — which logged attacks against at least two of the targeted sites, the details of which corresponded to UCC’s claims.

Targeting Strategy

Although the UCC attacks were not accompanied by a discussion of targeting strategy or priorities, the forum community’s attacks using Caliphate Cannon were. The effort’s ringleader prioritized military and economic targets as well as security and education networks. While news agencies and even satellites were also considered desirable, the forum members recognized that such targets would likely be too difficult given their capabilities and resources.

The organizer of the DDoS efforts also published a survey to solicit feedback from forum members with regard to geopolitical priorities. The survey offered four categories: Crusader (the US-led anti-ISIS coalition), Iraqi government, Syrian government, and “Tyrants” — a term often used to describe Middle Eastern governments. Upon the close of the survey, the “Tyrants” category had obtained the most votes, followed by “Crusader.”

Based upon those results, the forum community launched DDoS attacks against government targets in Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, and Iraq, with the latter receiving multiple attacks. No evidence suggests collusion between the forum community and UCC; however, six of the seven websites UCC claimed to have attacked were government, NGO, or private businesses’ websites in Iraq.

Results of the Attacks

UCC claimed credit for seven DDoS attacks in December 2016; the forum community targeted five sites throughout the second half of January 2017. Although at least one site targeted by UCC was confirmed offline after the attack was announced, Flashpoint analysts cannot confirm the site was online prior to the attack. The forum community’s organizer posted reports after each attack, most of which lasted three or more days. Each report included claims that the sites had gone down intermittently or suffered degraded response times.

Additionally, Flashpoint analysts cannot confirm that the sites targeted by Caliphate Cannon were offline due to the DDoS activity; however, the evidence is compelling. At least two of the sites were confirmed offline when analysts attempted to check their availability. Of those sites, one was hosted on a web server in Yemen and the other in Iraq. In the first case, the entire server appeared to have been affected, denying access to 260+ of its hosted sites. In the second case, the site was offline for nearly two months before returning on a new IP address hosted by a DDoS protection service.

Potential Capability

Without better insight into the infrastructure on which the target sites were hosted, we can make some inferences from the tool used and the potential size of the population of attackers. Caliphate Cannon was designed to carry out HTTP flood attacks by sending a deluge of HTTP GET requests to the target site. Because flood attacks are volumetric, they also rely on either one or more machines with the capacity to generate large volumes of traffic, or a large enough population of attacking devices to generate that traffic.

Despite the apparent success at knocking some sites offline, it is unlikely that the attack population was large enough to generate the volume of traffic necessary to realize success against targets with DDoS mitigation strategies. Unfortunately the tool’s download pages remain inactive, so it is impossible to view the number downloads. However, one means of estimating the population of attackers is to look at the number of active users on the forum during the period of the attacks.

Since the forum is password-protected, the links were only available to those with login credentials. Of those, it is impossible to speculate the number of users who might simply have browsed the forum; however, it is possible to formulate a picture of active users by looking at the number of users who posted to the forum after the download links were posted. Between January 12, 2017, when the tool was first posted, and January 31, 2017, when the last targeted site went offline, there were 282 unique users who posted in the forum.

These observations raise a crucial question: If all 282 users were to download the tool and participate in the attacks, would they generate enough traffic to have an impact on higher-value targets, most of which likely employ DDoS mitigation strategies? Theoretically, yes. Under ideal conditions, 282 attackers could generate enough collective traffic to impact such a site.

However, these actors face several limiting factors. First, many are believed to be in the Middle East and North Africa region, where Internet infrastructure is less developed and network speeds limited.

Second, these actors face complex security concerns that go beyond potentially committing computer crimes under the law in their respective countries; they are also supporting a terrorist organization. This reality drives many of these actors to use the Tor network to obfuscate their Internet activity. Caliphate Cannon sends attack traffic over Tor by default, which further slows connection speeds and attack traffic potential — an obstacle that would even impact actors in countries with more developed Internet infrastructure.

Finally, Caliphate Cannon employs no mechanism to coordinate the timing of attacks. This leaves the potential for a fractured attack population to send traffic at different times, further limiting the cumulative volume of attack traffic at any given time.

What if the Attacks Resume?

Without significant advancements in technical capabilities, these jihadist cyber threat actors have a couple of options should they decide to resume DDoS attacks. As was likely the case during UCC’s attacks, the first and easiest method is to pay for booter services. Funding, however, could be a limiting factor. These groups are not officially recognized by ISIS, and no evidence suggests that their activities are directed by ISIS commanders. Without an operations fund, even cheap services may not be sustainable.

Another option is to grow the attack population. The author of Caliphate Cannon discussed releasing a second copy of the tool, devoid of any ISIS symbols, in order to achieve exactly that. In one post, the actor claimed that removing ISIS symbols could help the group co-opt others — likely hacktivists — into the attacks while concealing the initiative’s jihadist ties. Although this tactic could work, the hacktivist community is fractious; coordinating a large enough group to generate ample traffic is unlikely.

Lessons Learned

Ultimately, cyber jihadists’ DDoS experimentation teaches us two lessons. First, these actors are resourceful and innovative. Although most lack advanced technical skillsets, they continually search for ways to overcome their limitations and approach problems in interesting ways. Second, these actors derive value even from perceived successes. ISIS has proven particularly adept at leveraging the digital realm as a platform for propaganda and recruitment. Activities conducted in the name of ISIS contribute to this machine; and in the propaganda war, perception is reality. With even a fraction of truth, these actors can spin issues in their favor while denouncing factual refutations as enemy propaganda.

In the end, if these actors do resume DDoS attacks, any successes will likely align with the scope of their successes in other activities. Website defacements, for example, often occur when these actors exploit known vulnerabilities typically found in low-value targets. In other words, soft targets. If the impact of a DDoS attack is measured in terms of loss or degradation of service — such that it drives customers away from a given site — these actors are unlikely to realize success against hardened targets. However, even perceived successes are likely to embolden and motivate these actors to continue seeking the means to achieve a greater impact.

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