Wilton man fights cybercrime

WILTON — Jeff Stutzman of Wilton is used to defending some of the largest companies in the world against hacking and information stealing. Now, the executive with Red Sky Alliance has launched his second company, Wapack Labs in Manchester, which will eventually offer those same protections to local, smaller businesses that don’t have the same big bucks to offer.

The lab officially opened on Monday, but in a conversation with Stutzman last Tuesday, he said the lab had already gotten its first customer — a mother who had been passing by and noted the “Coming Soon” sign. The woman wanted to know if the company could recover baby photos from a failed hard drive.

Stutzman gained experience fighting computer hacking and viruses while with the Department of Defense and also while serving in the Navy and Coast Guard. Since then, he’s focused those skills in the private arena, teaching companies how to protect themselves.

And they do need protection, he said. If a company has a product that is marketable and desirable, there is a 100 percent chance they’ll be hacked at some point, he said, and a high probability that their intellectual property will be stolen. Law firms, small banks and manufacturers all make prime targets, he said, and it’s not just the big institutions that need to watch their backs.

Wapack Labs is Stutzman’s newest business venture, which he started with partner Jim McKee of St. Louis. Eventually the intent will be doing exactly what Stutzman is doing with Red Sky Alliance, but on a smaller, local scale. But it will have another function as well. It will serve as a computer forensics lab, coming at the problem of cyber crime from a different direction.

If a company or individual has already been subjected to a hacking or virus event, Wapack Labs has the ability to find out what went wrong and even trace it back to a source. Before, this was the kind of investigation that was really only available through the state police labs, he said.

Stutzman said that servicing smaller companies means that Wapack Labs won’t make the same kind of revenue as Red Sky Alliance, but it will allow him to remain at home more often, and stimulate the local economy.

“Sometimes it’s not about money,” he said. “Sometimes it’s about making a local and social impact. Locally there are companies that have computer issues, that don’t make the threshold for an FBI investigation. Does that mean they should be ignored? No.”

There are things that every company and individual should know to provide themselves with basic protections, said Stutzman. One of the most important is to know how attacks happen. The most common are called “watering hole attacks,” where a common website is targeted. Every time someone visits that website, something is downloaded onto the computer.

This happens a lot with social media, said Stutzman. People will click on shortened links on Twitter or Facebook that lead to a malicious site. And now that many phones are equipped with mobile Internet, even links in texts can be used to lure the unsuspecting.

The other common way for viruses or other destructive software to be transmitted is by email. Only one in five emails sent now is legitimate, explained Stutzman, and one in every 377.4 emails a person receives is a malicious spearfishing email. And they can look completely legitimate, sent from a person in your inbox with seemingly normal content.

Even though it is so common it’s nearly routine for corporations to be hacked, many do not like to admit it, or believe that their internal firewalls will be enough to protect them, said Stutzman, and many don’t seek help early enough.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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