From 2004 to 2014, Justin Zeefe spent time overseas tracking and interacting with cyber threat actors as an operations officer for the U.S. government.
He watched as these actors became increasingly formulaic and attracted the attention of traditional organized crime groups seeking collaboration.
“That shift meant a reduced focus by these actors on state-sponsored efforts to collect intelligence and a new focus on generating profit,” said Zeefe, president and co-founder of Nisos. “In turn, well-established organized criminals began pumping cash into these confederacies to reorganize their efforts toward monetization.”
The U.S. intelligence community watched closely. But operations officers like Zeefe and former intelligence officers and criminal analysts like Landon Winkelvoss, current Nisos co-founder and vice president of content, felt the private sector was unprepared for a dramatic increase in risk.
“Landon and I strapped on our skates and followed where we knew the puck was headed,” Zeefe said. “We formed Nisos to bring together the best minds and tackle this problem on behalf of the private sector, which is the backbone of our representative democracy and where the vast majority of critical infrastructure lies.”
What Nisos Does
Nisos provides managed, multi-source intelligence that enable security, intelligence, and trust and safety teams to protect their companies from threats. Thanks to Nisos’ data collection and its team members’ understanding of the adversarial mindset of bad actors, its services help clients deliver smart defense and build a more effective response against cyber attacks, disinformation and digital abuse.
Zeefe and Winkelvoss hoped to protect businesses by leveraging offensive, defensive, engineering and open source intelligence skill sets in their work. They also wanted to scale intelligence service offerings and impact threats by delivering timely, actionable intelligence; not just data.
“We formed Nisos to bring together the best minds and tackle this problem on behalf of the private sector.”
“This vision would enable us to demonstrate differentiated value to our customers,” said Winkelvoss, vice president of content. “We also wanted to establish a value system that encouraged empowerment. Those goals come from a strong purpose, transparency, accountability and a sense of urgency.”
It was from this mission, vision and value system that Nisos created threat intelligence as a managed service.
What are your roles and responsibilities?
Co-Founder and Vice President of Content Landon Winkelvoss: I lead Nisos’ research investigations focused on disrupting fraud and threats to enterprise physical and cyber security. I also sit on the Nisos board of directors and regularly collaborate with executive leadership on our go-to-market and product strategy.
“We provide each of our remarkable teammates what we promised when they joined: unyielding camaraderie, mission-driven purpose, complex but rewarding problems to solve and the opportunity to excel.”
President and Co-Founder Justin Zeefe: I ensure that messaging alignment matches market demand and emerging use cases for our services, and I lead our efforts to broaden market awareness of Nisos’ capabilities. While these responsibilities are critical to our success and I enjoy the hell out of them, they are not the responsibilities that drive Landon and me as founders. What gets us up early and keeps us up late is the same sense of obligation to our teammates with which we started. That is to build and sustain an organization where we provide each of our remarkable teammates what we promised when they joined: unyielding camaraderie, mission-driven purpose, complex but rewarding problems to solve and the opportunity to excel individually and collectively through meaningful impact.
When you think of other companies in your industry, how is Nisos unique?
Winkelvoss: Nisos provides our clients with turnkey expert services that combine the people, process and technology necessary to deliver actionable intelligence. We also excel at attribution, which is critical to understanding threat groups, their tactics, techniques, procedures and the human motivation behind them. This human context is often missing from the analysis in competitor intelligence reports. Our analysis provides greater clarity for our enterprise security stakeholders allowing them to empower other stakeholders and generate disruptive outcomes and harden their defenses.
Zeefe: We’re addressing a fundamental misunderstanding in the commercial market as to what “intelligence” is and how it can and should be employed to measure, monitor and mitigate risk. Intelligence is timely, actionable and relevant information. Most of the intelligence that is of concern to enterprise exists entirely online. It is vital that those charged with uncovering it be domain experts with deep reach and experience solving complex problems. When we answer questions about disinformation, platform abuse and election integrity, we drive meaningful changes that frustrate bad actors and provide risk transparency to our clients.
What sets Nisos’ product apart
Nisos’ intelligence is client-specific and analyst-led, which reduces risk. They don’t just collect and aggregate data, which can lead to too many alerts and overwhelm security teams. To execute its strategy of threat intelligence as a managed service, Nisos combines the disciplines of technical cyber security and open source corporate intelligence with engineers who build tools and aggregate data allowing their analysts to identify material threats, attribute adversaries and scale technology.
What is your employee value proposition for those thinking about joining your team?
Winkelvoss: Our team helps Nisos be a trusted partner that solves intractable security challenges with threat intelligence. Employees have access to the Nisos network, and working for Nisos allows them to understand pervasive security threats across industries. They will learn the critical aspects of go-to-market, operations, analysis, product management and engineering. There are numerous career tracks for promotion and gaining expertise.All employees have equity stake in the company, are rewarded for performance and share in accountability.
Zeefe: Our teammates are the ones who choose to join and remain at Nisos despite the tremendous opportunities in the market. Their competency and experience mean they can work wherever they desire. Even before Landon and I had a clue of what to sell, we were resolute in building an incredible team. We realized our dream of fostering an environment where high-caliber people feel welcome, energized, valued, and are afforded a sea of interesting work and opportunity. Everything flowed from that.
“We realized our dream of fostering an environment where high-caliber people feel welcome, energized, valued, and are afforded a sea of interesting work and opportunity.”
What’s next for Nisos?
Winkelvoss: Our long-term vision is to become an established platform for threat intelligence and a source of intelligence enrichment and context across cyber security, physical security, fraud and national security. We have plans to exceed around 150 personnel by the end of 2023 with revenue expected to grow significantly in the foreseeable future. We completed our Series B investment round in March 2022, and have the resources and funding to achieve our goals.