May 20

Executive Spotlight: Jon Steinbach, President of Federal Solutions for Halcyon


Jon Steinbach, president of Federal Solutions for Halcyon, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the company’s anti-ransomware engine and its role to fill the gaps that modern defensive cyber solutions have been unable to address.

In addition, Steinbach also discussed the most critical cybersecurity challenges facing the federal sector as well as how Halcyon is driving its workforce for long-term success during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.

“At Halcyon, our approach is to provide challenges that enhance our workforce and their abilities to learn and provide a great and safe work environment. We want our people to have a good work-life balance, but we also want to challenge our workforce with innovative concepts and encourage them to ask creative questions.”

You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Jon Steinbach below:

ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about Halcyon’s anti-ransomware engine to fill the gaps that modern defensive cyber solutions have failed to address? How have your solutions grown in security consulting and products?

Jon Steinbach: “The Halcyon anti-ransomware engine is the first of its kind as we focus directly on ransomware which behaves differently than traditional malware.  That’s why modern defensive solutions are having significant challenges.  Halcyon detects and prevents ransomware with four layers of protection; Pre-Execution, Entrapment, Behavioral, and Resilience.

We armor and protect EPP/EDR agents from being blinded or uninstalled due to our protective kernel architecture. Some of our key differentiators are that we approach problems with an offensive mindset.  The Halcyon Anti-Ransomware Platform was built with the attacker in mind because it was built by exploitation experts.

Speed and context are everything. The Platform has exceptionally high efficacy as ransomware passes through its inspection engines, maintains context of each layer prior, and is then weighted for nefarious intent.  Offensive techniques are built into a defensive product by design, to exploit the exploits.

We have true adaptive security which is needed today more than ever as attackers will find ways to evade security controls. The adaptive nature of the platform allows for retooling, or new tooling to be deployed in near real-time with no overall impact to the Platform’s stability.

As our engine catches ransomware at any layer, it sends a self-healing signal back to pre-execution, to prevent that variant from ever making it past the first layer again. It’s very difficult, but not insurmountable, to get ahead of new attacks, especially ones that haven’t been seen before.

We really need to think along the lines of our adversaries. A big problem is that ransomware behaves differently than traditional malware. Most people have some level of anti-virus software running on their endpoints, but the nefarious nature of ransomware eludes most of these defensive products.

That’s where we come in.  We solidify the ecosystem of security by adding value to other security products installed on every endpoint.”

ExecutiveBiz: What do you see as the most critical challenges facing those in the federal sector as cybersecurity continues to rise in importance, ransomware attacks are constant and cyber hygiene becomes a necessity for all federal agencies and companies?

Jon Steinbach: “From my perspective, the biggest challenge is staying ahead of the current set of threats and keeping our focus on cybersecurity in the federal sector. It’s a significant issue for the federal government.

However, they have done lots of things right.  But cybersecurity will always be a challenge because it’s a moving target where the adversary only has to be right once, and the defenders have to be right all the time.  It’s also an equally important challenge within all other industries as well.

For instance, like with most cybersecurity software, it tends to rely on updated signatures and indicators of compromise, which means you’re only stopping what has already been identified as bad. As a result, new malware will compromise your system.

However, it’s best to have some sort of protection rather than nothing, obviously. Traditional cyber security software tends to focus specifically on malware which is significantly different from the way ransomware works.

One of my biggest concerns in the entire cybersecurity sector, especially for the defense and intelligence community, is the use of capabilities like ransomware to target individuals. It’s not for extorting money and attacking their personal and work devices, but as leverage for recruitment by a foreign intelligence service.

From a government perspective, one of the key things is for the federal government to get a lot of these companies involved in game-changing innovations like anti-ransomware. The federal government is consistently working on and driving new innovations.

We don’t usually hear about them until it becomes commercialized like GPS technology. That got its start in the government and has become universally used as a tool used by all consumers. The government is also leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.

A lot of these things may not be fully recognized until they’ve been released. There are a lot of things happening on the back end that our government is leveraging, from a cybersecurity perspective. We just won’t know the full impact until the government releases the capabilities. But after that, they’ll still need industry support.

Industry support will provide a lot of talent to develop the new technologies, and even more importantly, the successful integration of those capabilities into the government systems and developing mechanisms to identify, test and bring to market even more innovative technology in the future.”

ExecutiveBiz: How does your company ensure long-term success for your workforce to drive value for your employees as you continue to face the uphill challenge to recruit and retain the best talent in the federal marketplace?

Jon Steinbach: “These are challenges for every company across every industry. An even bigger challenge is the difficulty of retaining your people for the long term. On the federal side, there are a lot of bigger companies that are struggling with this problem because you need security clearance, and the fact is you’re only going to be paid so much, especially if you’re going to be on a services contract.

People tend to leave and go to Google or Amazon to focus on the commercial customers and make more money. This is where Halcyon fits into the puzzle because our approach is simple. We have some of the best leaders in the industry with a track record of success.  Employees need to feel they are part of a talented team.

From my perspective, it starts there, and we look for mission-first people who are talented and want to be challenged. We understand that it takes a village to accomplish great things not just one individual. Those are things that we have to vet as we bring new people on board. I also feel that we’ve kind of perfected the remote work-life balance for employees.

Talent retention will always be a challenge. At Halcyon, our approach is to provide challenges that enhance our workforce and their abilities to learn and provide a great and safe work environment. We want our people to have a good work-life balance, but we also want to challenge our workforce with innovative concepts and encourage them to ask creative questions.

Not everyone will stay with Halcyon long-term, but we want to continue to grow and enhance the individual performance with every employee while they’re here. If that person does leave, we want the rest of the industry to know that the best people came from Halcyon.”



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