Spin-Off Company Lands Lucrative IRS Designation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. February 29, 2012– New Mexico Tech’s spin-off business in cyber security took a huge step towards expanding its customer base into the federal government contract work this week.

CAaNES-mark-fidel
 Mark Fidel, president of CAaNES.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Business Weekly

Computational Analysis and Network Enterprise Solutions, or CAaNES, is a partner in the Business Integra team, which was accepted by the Internal Revenue Service to provide a full range of sophisticated cyber-security information technology services to federal agencies. The IRS approved 36 proposals to be eligible to compete for $2 billion of contract work for the next 10 years – through 2022.

“This opens up a variety of projects identified by the federal government in this $2 billion set-aside,” said company president Mark Fidel. “We don’t automatically get a certain slice of the pie, but we’re eligible to take part in these ‘indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity’ projects. It’s a semi-protected environment.”

Business Integra – and CAaNES – will not compete with the other 35 vendors for a variety of government contracts – virtually any contract that does not involve national security. The other companies on the Business Integra team include heavyweights in the industry: Tata Consulting Services, Northrop Grumman, AT&T, System 1, Patriot, HMS, TISTA, Information Concepts, COMSO, Tritech, OTG and Avaya.

New Mexico Tech formed CAaNES in 2006 to privatize certain research efforts of New Mexico Tech and the Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis, or ICASA, which is a division of EMRTC that focuses on cyber security.

Headquartered in Albuquerque, CAaNES employs about 14 security professionals and has access to about 20 researchers at ICASA. Collectively, CAaNES’ and ICASA’s revenues for cyber security are over $10 million for 2011. CAaNES has seen exceptional growth in the last a few years and named a “Flying 40” by the Albuquerque Journal for its rapid growth. The company has also served as a prime employment opportunity for New Mexico Tech computer science graduates.

CAaNES specializes in providing cyber-security solutions, including network security, incident response, malware and code analysis, digital forensics and litigation support. The company has completed more than 125 network security assessments for most New Mexico state agencies and a number of governmental and commercial clients in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Texas. Additionally, CAaNES’ commercial and law firm clients have utilized the company for a number of sensitive digital forensic projects.

“Because of our partnership with New Mexico Tech and the researchers at ICASA, we believe that we are able to get network security projects done quicker and more efficiently than our competitors,” Fidel said. “If you have a 10,000 node network, it’s common to do a 30 percent sampling. Because of our technology, we can do 100 percent coverage in a fairly reasonable amount of time. Not many people can say that.”

The experts at CAaNES do more than just analyze networks and web-based applications for security weaknessesd, though, Fidel said. The company provides analyses and reports that are appropriate for an executive audience.

“The volume of data we mine from our analytical tools is prohibitively large,” Fidel said. “Other companies will turn over data to customers and say, ‘Here’s everything we did. Good luck with that.’ We put the data into great summaries that include specific recommendations for remediating any security gaps we identify”

Fidel said he doesn’t expect the new designation to require CAaNES to expand its workforce immediately; however, the entry into the federal arena is important.

“It’s too early to say,” Fidel said. “We finished the application for this contract 18 months ago. It’s been a long time to come to fruition. We’re building the business so that we have a solid base.”

Fidel said a significant portion of the credit for the company’s success rests with Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Srinivas Mukkamala, who is also a senior research scientist and a Tech graduate.

“He is the linchpin to our entire organization,” Fidel said. “Dr. Mukkamala brought the initial intellectual property into the company. Through his tireless efforts and seemingly endless travels, we have been able to expand our client base outside of New Mexico throughout the Western United States.”Fidel also credited Robert Childs, formerly of First Community Bank, who joined CAaNES as Chief Operating Officer in August 2011.

“Robert brings to bear many years of experience in risk management and information security in financial services, public utilities, and healthcare industries. Robert’s background has allowed us to expand our assessment offerings to include regulatory compliance assessments,” Fidel said. “Overall, we are well-positioned to support the opportunities presented by the IRS designation and other impending engagements.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech