Jeffrey Lipson serves as CEO at Layer 8 Security, a cybersecurity consulting, advisory, and technical services company. From risk management and assessments to staffing, training, monitoring, and incident response, Layer 8 Security helps clients meet rigorous and evolving security and regulatory needs. In his role at the company, Jeff draws on his 26 years of military service, intelligence and communications experience, and cybersecurity industry expertise.
EDWIN WARFIELD: How did you get your start?
JEFF LIPSON: I’ve had an unusual civilian and military career. We have had the Global War on Terror since 2001. I have been mobilized several times in between and so I have kind of flowed in and out of uniform.
My last active duty assignment was at Marine Forces Cyber Command. I was mobilized in 2010 and it was a great opportunity to be a plank holder in something new. A plank holder is someone that start something brand new. As reservists we were not full-time, but I went full-time. MARFORCYBER, Marine Forces Cyber Command, is part of US Cyber Command, which is co-located at Fort Meade with the National Security Agency. It ended up being one of the best jobs that I ever had, initially I was supposed to be mobilized for a year, but I ended up staying three and a half. In the cool factor, it was a 10-plus, and my experiences there led directly to my founding Layer 8 Security.
Military people—we call ourselves sheepdogs because we believe we’re that thin line that protects society and our community from the wolves that are at the door, if you will. We feel pretty strongly in this manner. We have a benevolent call to help others. Everything we do we’re pretty passionate about. It physically pains me when I hear about somebody in the community who have been scammed by hackers, or whose networks have been breached, or whose networks have been locked out by ransomware.
Layer 8 Security is a play on words. It actually comes as a euphemism from the seven network layers of the OSI model. In geek speak, there are seven network layers from the application layer all the way down to the transport. But within the cyber community—within the technology community—when we refer to the eighth layer, that’s people. Often when you see cyber scams being perpetrated it’s not because hackers have hacked their way through rings of defenses; it’s really because someone has clicked on a link or fallen prey to some simple scam. We find that the people layer is often the one that needs the most reinforcing when it comes to cybersecurity.
Initially, we had this idea that we wanted to help businesses defeat the Russians and Chinese and other bad actors in cyberspace, because that was the experience we had at the Fort. However, we quickly realized that that really didn’t resonate in the business community. Within the business community, it was really about the legal, regulatory, and compliance issues that they were facing and the way to meet those—but at the same time, better securing their businesses from various nefarious actors. And so we evolved, and I think that’s something that we’re pretty proud of as Marines. You’ve probably heard this: Marines adapt, overcome, and survive. We believe we that we did that in our business.
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