The Richmond Register

State News

September 2, 2013

Ky. company guards military against hackers

BOWLING GREEN — A Bowling Green company is serving as the front line of defense for military computers against hackers and malware.

EWA Government Systems Inc. uses 14 people to find and neutralize computer intrusions for the U.S. Department of Defense.

The company's vice president of intelligence operations, Ed Tivol, told the Daily News the company aims to defeat what are known as "script kiddies." Tivol describes those as professionals who are state-sponsored computer terrorists around the world. The U.S. Department of Defense often asks for third-party monitors to handle those problems.

The company is located in the Western Kentucky University Small Business Accelerator. While much of the work is classified, Tivol said the company does try to mitigate an attack in real time.

A large multicolored world map dominating a huge room jammed with sophisticated computers operated by hundreds of people in tense, hushed tones comes to mind.

The office suite looks nothing like those seen in movies or on television — no flashing world maps or clocks set to different time zones.

Not just anyone can do the work. There are difficult tests that must be passed in order to become certified. One of the prize posts is a CEH designation: certified ethical hacker, Tivol said.

Tivol said the company took part in a two-week exercise where reconnaissance was required to look for unprotected passwords, misconfigured equipment and implanted malware attempts.

The team reviewed 9,700,000 incidents, called "intrusion detection system alerts," and blocked 51 "hostile" Internet protocol addresses.

"You try to detect and mitigate the attack in real time," Tivol explained.

The result? Cyber-attacks caused no significant problems.

"There's no perfect protection, but you can take certain steps," Tivol said.

Tivol likes the work because it's profitable, interesting and uses cutting-edge technology.

EWA goes back to 1977 as a company based in Virginia. The Bowling Green office opened in 2005.

Operations manager Jon Paschal likes the work because it presents a mental challenge and there is a chance to make a difference..

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