Dr. Todd Brennan, CTO and co-founder of Bit9, is a renaissance technologist whose credentials include a doctorate in electrical engineering and a research stint in MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. It was at Lincoln, while working on satellite communications, that Brennan first got interested in security -- as a hobby.
“You had lots of time to think at Lincoln,” Brennan says. “I was kind of burning the candle at both ends.” The seeds of that work went into Brennan’s first startup, the desktop-intrusion-prevention company Okena, which was sold to Cisco in 2003. By then, Brennan was already onto his next adventure: a two-year government-funded “skunk works” project to develop a way to stop completely unknown threats from infecting computers -- the so-called “first write” problem.
That research turned into Bit9, which launched its first product, Parity, in September. Bit9’s Automatic Graylist technology singles out new files on enterprise networks at the file operation level, then observes their prevalence and behavior. Today, Brennan is developing products and services for ParityCenter, Bit9’s Web-based file identification service, which aggregates huge quantities of malware data from the company’s various installations.