ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. June 18, 2009 – Software developed at New Mexico Tech is getting noticed for its impressive ability to conduct computer security, analysis and forensics.
Tech helped launch a new company in 2006, Computational Analysis and Network Enterprise Solutions, or CAaNES. The company was featured in the New Mexico Business Weekly last week as an up-and-coming enterprise. Technology Ventures Corp. also recently named the company to its annual “Flying 40” list of fastest growing high tech companies in New Mexico. The “Flying 40” was featured in the Albuquerque Journal’s Business Outlook section Monday, June 15.
“It’s nice to get this recognition from a couple perspectives,” company president Mark Fidel said. “We’ve been working hard for three years and making steady significant progress; and in recessionary times, it’s gratifying to know that we have a local, homegrown business succeeding.”
CAaNES markets and deploys a cyber-security software that capitalizes on computer science expertise at New Mexico Tech. The company has two main niches: preventative assessments of a network’s security and digital forensic investigations of malicious attacks, like a computer-based crime scene investigation. ]
“This software is like a Swiss Army knife,” said Dr. Srinivas Mukkamala, chief technology officer. “It has multiple applications for multiple purposes … and we’re still building the tool. We can come in and sort through the aftermath of a cyber attack or we can offer security services before any incident occurs.”
The company’s propriety software was developed at the Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis, or ICASA, at New Mexico Tech. The company is in the process of applying for a patent on the digital forensic software. Once granted, the company will license and sell a package of software and support.
“CAaNES is a stellar example of how New Mexico Tech can capitalize on the intellectual property developed on campus,” university president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said. “Our top priority is educating the next generation of leaders in science and engineering, but, in the process, our faculty and students often develop new technologies that can create viable revenue sources for the institution.”
The state of New Mexico passed the University Research Park Act in 2004, which first allowed schools to partner with private companies.
New Mexico Tech’s first foray into private enterprise was the creation of Optical Surface Technologies, an Albuquerque company that makes large optics for telescopes, lasers and other high tech devices. While O.S.T.’s mission meshes with Tech’s expertise in astronomy, CAaNES is bringing computer science developments to the exploding field of cyber-terrorism and information assurance.
“New Mexico Tech has been a leader in computer science for decades,” Lopez said. “We’ve always had innovative research. The creation of ICASA helped us make a name for ourselves in computer security work. This new company is yet another way for the university to expand our horizons.”
In addition to fighting cyber criminals, Mukkamala said the software has direct applications for electronic discovery and is proving to be a valuable resource for litigants. Already, the company has performed assessments for more than 20 state government agencies.
The software’s main feature is its ability to sort and categorize massive amounts of data. The company also has been hired by private firms to comb through e-mails, documents and inter-company communications for a variety of reasons.
“We can go through heaps and heaps of data,” Mukkamala said. “From that we can develop a timeline analysis.”
One recent client hired CAaNES to analyze computer communications after the client was sued for sexual harassment.
“We help attorneys understand what happened, how did it happen, when did it happen,” Mukkamala said, “so they can explain it in court. We analyze data, looking for the ‘smoking gun.’ Everyone leaves a data trail and we know how to find it.”
In the company’s short existence, Mukkamala has testified in court several times already.
Last year, a state of New Mexico government department hired CAaNES to ferret out a hacker who breached the department’s computer system. Mukkamala said CAaNES was able to pinpoint the cyber attack to an individual in France.
The fledgling company has already become self-sufficient, logging more than $300,000 in revenue in 2008. The company began as a project with only two New Mexico Tech graduate students handling the work. Now, the company still only claims two employees – Fidel and Mukkamala. To conduct security work, CAaNES hires ICASA and its graduate students to do the work.
“I cannot speak highly enough about the quality of the work by Dr. Mukkamala and his team,” Fidel said. “His attention to detail and his ability to focus on a project and make sure we are cutting edge enable us to differentiate ourselves from other companies.”
In its first partial year of reporting in 2006, CAaNES had $2,860 in revenue. The company reported $318,000 in revenue in 2008.
The university owns 50 percent of the company, through its New Mexico Tech Research Park Corporation, with the two principals owning the remainder of the company. The university’s ownership in the company isn’t seen as a permanent arrangement. Once the company achieves $5 million in revenue annually, the private owners hope to buy out the university’s share.
“We want to be the leaders in this field in New Mexico first,” Mukkamala said. “Then, we want to move to surrounding states.”
– NMT –
By Thomas Guengerich