Dubbed “the CEO who caught the Chinese spies red-handed,” Kevin Mandia ’92 is featured on the cover of this week’s Fortune. Founder and CEO of Mandiant cybersecurity company, Mandia released a 60-page report in February revealing that a military unit in China’s People’s Liberation Army located in an office just outside Shanghai is responsible for numerous cyber attacks on American corporations, organizations, and government agencies.
Upon release of the report, he was featured in the top story on the New York Times website: “Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S.” The article, “China’s Army Seen as Tied To Hacking Against U.S.,” appeared on page A1 of the New York edition Feb. 19.
Mandia started his company in 2004 after 13 years in the industry. He’d worked as a computer security officer for the U.S. Air Force, followed by high-level stints overseeing computer forensics, incident responses, counterintelligence, and litigation support for Sytex (Lockheed Martin) and Foundstone (MacAfee).
“There was a market opportunity,” Mandia says about his leap into entrepreneurship in 2004. “No other company had grasped the inevitable reality of computer intrusions.”
The company has grown to an internationally lauded business based in Alexandria, Va., with 300 employees in offices across the U.S. and in Ireland. Clients include government agencies, high-profile individuals, and private companies. They’re attracted by Mandiant’s niche: “The only information security company that can both tell a company when it has been compromised and tell what the material impact of the breach is.”
Mandia, a computer science graduate, holds a master’s in forensic science from George Washington University. He is co-author of Incident Response: Investigating Computer Crime and articles for The International Journal of Cyber Crime. He has been featured on CNN’s “Talkback Live,” as well as news programs on NBC, CBS, and Fox.
Mandia received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Greater Washington Award in the technology division. Previous winners, in different cities, have included Starbucks’ Howard Schultz and Rosetta Stone’s Tom Adams.
Mandia says he learned how to handle fast-paced and high-pressure situations at Lafayette.
“When I came out of Lafayette, nothing could rattle me anymore,” he says. “I would deal with guys from MIT who got rattled when things got hard. I became a more well-rounded guy at Lafayette.”
He says the most influential thing about Lafayette was the spirit of the students. “I think we [students] merged closer than those at other colleges. We had a lot more camaraderie here. I’m probably still in touch with 30 or 40 grads. [They] have been very good to me. We all do what we can to make sure each others’ ventures are successful.”
Key among them was Ryan Schedler ’93, a New York City hedge fund veteran, who became Mandiant’s lone angel funder.