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50 Most Admired Companies of The Year 2019

An Interview with Russ Berkoff, StealthPath Inc. President: ‘We Have Expanded Capabilities to Complement other Solutions while Still Keeping Our Core Value as the Ultimate Goal’

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“We work to keep the goals and capabilities of engineering/product functionality in line with how we present ourselves to the market.”

For years America has been under relentless cyber-attack. From hackers out for criminal ends to nation-states targeting America’s most advanced military technologies and threatening critical infrastructure. Recognizing that traditional, response-focused approaches were insufficient to meet the growing threat, CEO Andrew Gordon founded StealthPath™, a game-changing approach that provides dynamic zero trust defenses against otherwise successful penetrations.

The company is purpose-built to address the vulnerabilities of industrial controls, machine to machine interactions, and as seen today with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Its global patent supported approach provides fundamental prevention, efficiently implementing a ‘zero-trust’ solution at the protocol/message level, ensuring that port utilization, access, messages, and protocols are consistent with intended functionality. It doesn’t just detect exploits; it stops them before they can do damage, eliminating zero-day and other OS and application vulnerabilities. In the process, it also increases operational stability by eliminating accidental events caused by software failure or human error. The solution footprint is exceptionally minimal, with frictionless implementation complementing existing applications and processes.

The company was incorporated in 2017 and is headquartered in Reston, Virginia.

Russ Berkoff, StealthPath Inc. President, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

For nearly a decade, a workable Zero Trust solution has been the holy grail of cybersecurity. StealthPath’s founders recognized that it was achievable in the fastest growing sector of the market-- the exploding universe of smart devices. Since our first patented solution, the approach has grown to include a flexible platform that allows multiple levels of Zero Trust maturity, and we have moved into cutting edge digital transformation areas, including AI and IoT.

What challenges did you face in your initial years?

Any radically new idea is going to have challenges finding its feet in a market already crowded with solutions. Rather than relying on a disruptive revolution, we have crafted our go to market approach to “play well with others,” complementing existing solutions while providing a roadmap to more robust functionality.

What kind of responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?

When we started, we had a complete, all-or-nothing solution approach. While we still think that represents the maximum value, we recognize that it is not realistic for organizations already heavily invested in mostly adequate alternatives. We have expanded our capabilities to complement other solutions while still keeping our core value as the ultimate goal.

Building a culture of sustainability inside an organization is very important to maintain a reputation in the global market. How is it true for your company?

Before we can effectively communicate our vision externally, we need to build internal consensus. StealthPath is very much an internally-empowering work environment. We work to keep the goals and capabilities of engineering/product functionality in line with how we present ourselves to the market. Integrity is critical. Without it, no one will trust us to secure their critical assets.

A company’s behavior is as important as its economic performance or the quality of its products. How do you interpret this saying?

All three elements-- behavior, quality, and economic performance-- are aspects of a company’s brand. Long-term sustainability depends on all three.

Is it true that striving for both ‘ethics and success’ in a business is a tough feat?

The word “striving” indicates difficulty. You don’t “strive” while coasting. In some cases, holding to a high standard, under-promising-and-over-delivering may seem like a constraint. But if it builds trusted relationships with customers, it makes things better in the long term. We have enough challenges in a cybersecurity market beset by attacks from criminals and nation-states without trying to remember, as a Hollywood memoirist put it, “what lie did I tell.”

Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your employees?

Actually, I disagree with this. Honesty and integrity are essential. There is no delicate dynamic to maintain if you are straightforward and open. There are aspects of our business— the secret sauce— that need to remain confidential. And, at times, we must make tough decisions without unanimous support. The important thing is not to try to please everybody all the time–an impossibility in any case. It is to listen to everyone, make the best decision you can, accept responsibility for success, and, if you fail, learn.

If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?

  • Innovation – the source of our competitive differentiation,
  • People – the source of our innovation,
  • Process – our ability to understand what we are doing, why we are doing it, and making changes as necessary,
  • Customers – the external reality check that defines our value,
  • Integrity – call it reputation, brand, whatever, the foundation of the trust that the market has in us, and that we have in ourselves.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

Much further along, delivering sustained value while still searching for ways to improve. If we are going to be successful in protecting customers’ digital transformation investments, we need to be prepared to transform with them.

Russ Berkoff: A Formidable Leader

Russ Berkoff is a senior-level executive with skills as a manager, leader, and strategist. He has worked extensively within government and commercial sectors in the defense, civilian agency, intelligence community, and technology commercial spaces. He currently serves as President of StealthPath Inc., a start-up having been granted six patents to introduce and establish a novel zero-trust solution to endpoint devices in the worldwide cybersecurity market.

He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, holds Master’s Degrees from Loyola University Maryland, Sellinger School of Business in Finance, and the Naval Postgraduate School in Defense Analysis. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Berkoff is well-traveled, living in both Europe and Japan, with business trips throughout Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Europe. He currently resides in Maryland.

“StealthPath uniquely provides defense-in-depth in an information/operations technology environment teeming with ever-changing cyber threats, including highly sophisticated attacks financed by hostile nation-states.”