SAN ANTONIO 29 Jan. 2018 – Fred Ramirez, Founder of CNF Technologies, was inducted into the city’s renowned Cyber Hall of Honor. San Antonio, a city long since recognized as “Military City USA”, has more recently been coined “Cyber City USA” given our illustrious cyber community and prominent cyber pioneers such as Fred. The SA Cyber Hall of Honor is a unique and prestigious venue that recognizes those who understood, accepted, and overcame risks and challenges by innovatively forging new technological paths in San Antonio, throughout the nation, and globally.
Fred has been deeply embedded at the very forefront of cybersecurity before the term ‘cybersecurity’ was readily accepted. For over 30 years, Fred has been developing and implementing state of the art cybersecurity capabilities, professionally growing and recruiting local cybersecurity experts, and expanding the city’s cybersecurity workforce by creating hundreds of jobs. Fred was a founding member and the first Director of the officially sanctioned Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team (AFCERT), which was one of the first incident response centers in the country and the first ever for the Department of Defense (DoD). A highly successful vanguard within a new technological era and eventual distinct domain, Fred’s leadership in the AFCERT led to a 1995 GAO (Government Accountability Office) report proclaiming the AFCERT as the premier hacker incident response team. Throughout his time in the Government, Fred led the development and deployment of numerous groundbreaking network security technologies across the Air Force (AF) enterprise, providing global monitoring/intrusion detection capabilities that detected malicious activities to over 100 worldwide locations and over 350,000 AF users. In 2000, Fred left the government and joined the private sector, leading and winning several multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration (GSA), AFCERT, and the Department of Homeland Security. Fred Co-Founded Vast Security LLC, a professional consulting services. In 2002, Fred led the San Antonio team that was selected over 21 competitors for a multi-year, multi-million-dollar, contract with the VA to establish a Computer Incident Response Center (CIRC). When he left this small company, almost five years later, the company’s revenues went from less than $1 million to over $42 million. INC Magazine ranked this company the 14th fastest growing private company in the country on their list of the Top 500 Companies.
In 2005, Fred founded CNF Technologies with a focus on providing cyber security and systems engineering services. Today, CNF is a highly recognized leading cybersecurity provider in San Antonio and a premier local small business partner for cyber solutions. Applying exceptional expertise and extensive experience, CNF is a proven provider in developing, testing, fielding, sustaining, and employing cyber weapon systems and technologies for Offensive and Defensive Cyber Operations, Cybersecurity Risk Management, and support to Law Enforcement and Counterintelligence operations. The biggest challenge today, facing companies like CNF, is finding top notch cyber security professionals. To address this challenge, CNF has established an annual Cybersecurity Scholarship and a paid internship program with UTSA. CNF has worked with the Alamo Colleges to recruit interns and part-time employees. They have partnered with Northside Independent School District (NISD) and sponsored a four-week, Cyber Camp for a group of select students and participated in the recent Cyber Shadow program with Northside and Workforce Solutions. CNF also sponsors Warren High School’s CyberPatriot Team. Fred’s contributions over the last 30 years, and today through CNF Technologies have been instrumental in building San Antonio’s reputable cyber ecosystem.
Cyber Hall of Honor-Bullets and Narratives
- First director of the AFCERT
In late 1990, Fred Ramirez was tasked to stand up a vulnerability assessment and incident response capability. In 1992, the AFCERT was formally established. It was one of the first incident response centers in the country and the first for DoD. Mr. Ramirez grew the AFCERT from an initial 3-person operation in 1991 to over 80+ personnel when he left in 1997. Under Mr. Ramirez’s watch, the AFCERT worked with the DoD to establish thresholds for reporting incidents, establish standard data schemas, and standard reporting mechanisms. His team also authored the initial concept for the INFOCON system. This INFOCON reporting system was adopted across the Navy, Army and the rest of DoD. The AFCERT responded to hundreds of incidents including a significant attack that led to the arrest of two British suspects in 1994. During this incident, the AFCERT developed several revolutionary concepts including “hack back”, “hot pursuit”, and “honeypot”. In 1995, a GAO report to Congress proclaimed “the AFCERT as the premier hacker incident response team in DOD”.
- Led the development and deployment of groundbreaking network security tools
In 1991, Mr. Ramirez’s team deployed the “first-ever”, in-house developed anti-virus tool across the AF enterprise. In 1993, the AFCERT developed and deployed a global monitoring capability (ASIM) for detecting malicious activities across the AF network enterprise. This ASIM capability was deployed to over 100 worldwide locations monitoring over 350,000 AF users. In 1994, this team also developed and implemented a centralize, remote, on-line vulnerability scanning capability (OLS). In 1997, Mr. Ramirez was promoted to head up the Countermeasures Division within the AF Information Warfare Center. In the Countermeasures group, he led the development and implementation of the “first-generation”, network-based, event correlation and management engine (CIDDS) for the AF. This group also developed and deployed an innovative computer network defense and response system (CNDRS) that allowed the virtual isolation and containment of unauthorized activity using a Honeypot model. In 1998, his team also helped establish a computer security laboratory within the Computer Science department at UT-San Antonio by providing equipment and funding. In 1999, He led the demolition, build-out, and equipping of a 16,000-square foot facility (Building 179 in Port San Antonio) for consolidating all division personnel from 4 separate operating locations.
- Co-founder & General Manager of VAST Security LLC
In 2000, Mr. Ramirez left the government and went to work for a small network security company. At this small company, he led efforts to win multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), GSA FEDCIRC, AFCERT, and DHS. As a member of executive team, he was responsible for several business units including the company’s VAST Security LLC (that he co-founded), professional consulting services, and their managed security operations. In 2002, Mr. Ramirez led the San Antonio team that was selected over 21 competitors for a multi-year, multi-million-dollar, contract with the VA to establish a Computer Incident Response Center (CIRC). He provided technical guidance and management oversight to over 200 engineers, computer scientists, and technicians. When he left this small company, almost five years later, the company’s revenues went from less than $1 million to over $42 million. INC Magazine ranked this company the 14th fastest growing private company in the country on their list of the Top 500 Companies. Under the VACIRC contract, his team implemented a “first-ever” cyber security operations center that integrated incident response, security monitoring, and network management of the largest Federal network infrastructure outside of DoD. The team architected, acquired, implemented, managed and operated 4 internet gateways for the VA network enterprise that supported over 200 medical centers. The team acquired, configured and installed over 250 network-based Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) in a period of 7 months across the VA enterprise. The team also developed and implemented a VPN solution that supports over 30,000 VA users. Within 12 months, the VA SOC was monitoring and managing 1300 enterprise embedded security components to include vulnerability scanning platforms, anti-virus servers, VPN concentrators, and multiple-vendor IDSs. The team successfully integrated data from these embedded security components into a single management and event correlation system.
- Founder, Owner, and Principal of CNF Technologies Corporation
In 2005, Mr. Ramirez founded CNF Technologies with a focus on providing cyber security and system engineering services. With the principal’s background in the AF, they focused their efforts on pursuing AF/military opportunities and had success. CNF participated on the team that virtualized the AF gateways and entire network infrastructure at every AF base. CNF led several development efforts to build innovative technologies to secure virtual machines/networks and provide boundary protection to airborne networks. CNF was part of the team that operated the “provisional” AF Cyber mission at Barksdale AFB and helped transition the mission to Lackland AFB. CNF led the effort to build the “next generation” of intrusion prevention system and data analytics and correlation engine. CNF has enjoyed significant growth based primarily on its extremely talented and experienced workforce.