Berkeley Research Group announced the addition of five of the world’s foremost cyber security experts. Thomas Brown, who leads the group, has been named as BRG’s Global Leader of Cyber Security/Investigations, while Matthew Edman, Ph.D. and Christopher Tarbell will be directors. Ilhwan Yum and Thomas Kiernan join as associate directors.
Brown, a former federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, teamed with Tarbell, Edman, Yum and Kiernan—then with the FBI—on some of the most significant cyber investigations of the Internet era. The group spearheaded the investigation, arrest and prosecution of the operators of Silk Road, a notorious $1.2 billion underground drug website. They also investigated and prosecuted the leadership of the prolific “hacktivist” groups Anonymous and LulzSec. A movie based on the Silk Road case is currently in production by 21st Century Fox.
At the Southern District of New York, where Brown supervised the Complex Frauds and Cyber Crime Unit, he developed and led a range of cutting-edge and technologically complex investigations. They included the hacks of NASDAQ, Citibank and PNC Bank; Rove Digital, a massive botnet of more than four million computers; Liberty Reserve, an online digital currency used by criminals worldwide to launder over $6 billion in illegal proceeds; and Samarth Agrawal, who stole high-frequency trading code from Société Générale. Aside from his extensive cyber experience, Brown also led significant investigations and prosecutions of a wide variety of white collar offenses, including FCPA violations, tax fraud, economic espionage and theft of trade secrets, money laundering, securities fraud, bankruptcy fraud, identity theft, and criminal copyright theft, among others. He was also responsible for creating an innovative strategy to combat online piracy, which formed the basis for a continuing international intellectual property rights enforcement program by the Department of Homeland Security.
Brown told Security magazine: "Even in an age of both an increased awareness of the cyber threat and spending on information security, companies still face major cyber risks. We see companies still vulnerable to attacks by insiders who take advantage of their privileged access within a secured system to steal or destroy data. Moreover, many high tech attacks start through low tech means: a simple phone call, for example, requesting a password or a social security number can be all that a hacker needs to breach the most carefully protected network and cause havoc and mayhem. Finally, we see the Internet of Things as presenting an increasing security challenge. Although digitally connecting devices may simply users’ lives, at the same time it may complicate their online security. Every connected device must be protected at all the times for the whole to be secure, while an attacker need only breach a single connected device just one time to gain access to multiple sources of user data."
After leaving government service, Brown, Tarbell, Edman, Yum and Kiernan joined the private sector at an international consulting firm, where for two years they advised private- and public-sector clients on cyber security management and investigations. The group also regularly consults with government agencies seeking their expertise on cyber security matters.
“Clients value our unique insight and proven track record, so BRG’s depth of talent and breadth of knowledge are exciting for us—they give us the opportunity to create synergies across various practice groups and capabilities,” said Brown. “Our strength lies in our experience—not only in critical cyber security issues and crises, but in working together—and we’re confident this will lead to top-notch results for our clients.”
Edman is a computer scientist who specializes in cyber security and investigations. He previously worked as a lead cyber security engineer for a federally funded research and development center, where he provided specialized computer network security research and development to federal law enforcement on a number of cases. He also worked as a senior vulnerability engineer for a global financial services, software and media company based in New York. He has been recognized within law enforcement and the U.S. intelligence community as a subject-matter expert on cyber investigations related to anonymous communication systems, such as Tor, and virtual currencies like Bitcoin.
Tarbell buttresses his vast law-enforcement experience with a master’s degree in computer science and information security. His work as part of the FBI’s preeminent cyber crime squad allowed him to develop deep working relationships with law enforcement partners around the world. Tarbell regularly teaches cyber investigative techniques to law enforcement officers and lectures to business and government groups on various cyber threats.
Yum is practiced in cyber-event response and analysis, and also regularly provides trial support and data analysis for high-profile cyber investigations for the U.S. government. As a special agent with the FBI, Yum led numerous investigations, including many involving botnets, attacks on financial infrastructure by Eastern European-based cyber criminals, and hacktivists.
Kiernan worked as a computer scientist for nearly 25 years at the FBI, where he supported numerous cyber crime, terrorism and national security investigations by analyzing electronic evidence and conducting extensive technical research. In recognition of his exceptional talent and experience, Kiernan has been a recipient of both the U.S. Attorney General’s Award and the FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Cyber Investigation.