Ensuring and enhancing cybersecurity for mission-critical operations in defense and private enterprise
Anthony Lawrence is the founder and CEO of VOR Technology, a cybersecurity firm in Hanover, Maryland. Established in 2012, VOR Technology is a certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) that provides defense intelligence and technology solutions to national security and private enterprise clients. The company has expanded dramatically since its inception, earning inclusion on the Inc. 5000 list of the Fastest Growing Companies in America for 2016, and—most recently—growing through the acquisition of Sintel Group Inc.
For this interview, Tony spoke with Offit Kurman Business Law and Transactions Practice Group Chair Michael N. Mercurio, who helped facilitate the Sintel acquisition.
MIKE MERCURIO: Naming your businesses is very important. Your business’s name is the first thing people intersect with. Why VOR—what does it stand for, and what’s the story behind it?
TONY LAWRENCE: Vör is the Viking goddess of intelligence. I’m very interested in Viking/Norse mythology. I read a lot. I actually went to the library, found a couple of really old books, and I found Vör. Now, at the point in time, that information wasn’t on the internet, so there was basically one other company with the name Vor—they did something totally unrelated to what I’m doing now. That’s how I came up with the name, and originally I shaped the image of the company around Viking mythology, but we’ve kind of changed. We have a more corporate image now.
MIKE MERCURIO: I didn’t realize that. So, we were talking earlier about how cybersecurity is obviously all the rage these days. There are lots of cybersecurity companies out there. What makes VOR unique in this space?
TONY LAWRENCE: As we discussed earlier, I was one of the first deployers downrange conducting cyber operations in a tactical environment. While I was deployed, Russia invaded the country of Georgia. Before they did so, they launched a massive cyber attack against the country, and pretty much took the country out before a single troop or tank stepped on the ground. Once Congress identified that and we found that out, we decided we really needed to focus on cybersecurity here in the United States. If they can do that to a small country like Georgia, we can only imagine what they can do to us here in the United States, because we were not prepared for a cyber attack at the time.
Working for General Alexander, I saw how they took initiatives to change and reshape how the military does operations here in the United States to incorporate cyber operations into the current fight. When I started VOR Technology, I wanted to continue doing that.
One of our largest contracts right now is providing cyber training to each and every military cyber warrior in Pensacola, Florida. The course is called “The Joint Cyber Analysis Course.” Every year we have roughly 1,200 students from the Army, Marines, Coast Guard, and Navy all go through the course to get basic cyber training so they can go to their units and support the cyber fight. In addition to that, the majority of our contracts with the National Security Agency and other customers are focused around offensive cyber operations. We identify bad guys, follow them through the web, identify where they’re located, and report their location to the appropriate authorities. So, we have a very robust enterprise focused around cyber operations.
MIKE MERCURIO: Wow, it sounds like you guys are doing a lot. You have a full platform of services and a lot on your plate, but I know that it’s not limited to the government services. Talk a little bit about your commercial endeavors—Trion, I believe, correct?
TONY LAWRENCE: Yes. Recently we’ve launched Trion Research Laboratories. Trion is an innovative incubator for our engineers and analysts to come up with great ideas.
Most recently we heard that the city of Baltimore was having major issues with fires inside of their row homes. The row homes were unstable. They couldn’t send firefighters in even if somebody was in there or they needed to get in. So we’ve developed a small robot that firefighters can toss through the windows to locate people in the building. If people are in the building, they’ll tell the people to get low to the ground. They can give them instructions—they can say, “Wet a rag, put it over your face, stay away from smoke, follow me out.” We’re currently prototyping that device right now and we intend to sell it commercially, as we intend to for any ideas. You know, we have folks that work for NASA, NSA, DARPA—any ideas that our engineers have, we can build. Any crazy ideas they come up with, we’re starting to build.
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