Alumni Hope to Make the Internet Safer

IT alumni

Left to right: Alumni Matt Donlon, Kevin Rogers and Art Payne are pictured during a recent visit to the university.

Are you cyber-ready?

That’s the question two Radford University alumni are asking institutions and organizations as they build a company designed to provide its customers with innovative learning solutions and critical skills in cyber security.

“The goal of Cypherpath is to securely educate people and take them down a path where they are continually updated with the right skills and knowledge,” said Kevin Rogers '87, who along with fellow alumnus Art Payne ‘87 founded Cypherpath in 2010. “One reason for this education is to protect their data, and another reason is to protect their organization.”

Rogers and Payne created Cypherpath, which moved into the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon in September, to meet an urgent need for organizations to protect themselves from cyber threats. They are being advised by Matt Donlon '82, an entrepreneur and business developer who once served as director of security and intelligence with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which advises the U.S. military on cyber security issues.

Cypherpath, which has 11 employees and hopes, Payne said, to expand to 25 in 2012, serves two- and four-year educational institutions and will begin working with high schools soon, Rogers said. Other clients are the U.S. State Department, Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association, Anne Arundel Community College/ Global Corporate College and CyberWatch Center.

“We saw the federal government’s standards were changing quickly to secure a critical infrastructure of our country, and I looked at most of the companies that were supporting this, and they didn’t have any solutions that solved the problem,” Rogers said.

Rogers said Cypherpath takes a proactive approach. “We look at an individual’s competencies and job rolls, and we send learning updates based on what they do,” he said. “Many organizations do a training event and that’s it. They leave the trainees alone. Ours is a continual learning model.”

Another proactive approach taken by Cypherpath is predicting the next threat and teaching clients how to prepare and respond.

“We have a cyber intelligence advisory, which predicts the future in cyber terrorism, cyber warfare and cyber espionage,” Rogers said. “These are sent to top executives at the top level of the Department of Defense and other intelligence agencies. It’s put together by a group of worldwide ‘spies’ who come together collectively to share this information.”

As for the training, Rogers said, Cypherpath teaches this extremely technical information to its clients through easy-to-learn lessons.

“We do it in simple terms for the executives to understand so they can intelligently respond to the threats without taking a lot of time,” Rogers said. “Executives don’t have a lot of time to work on a lot of this stuff.”

Rogers cited connections with the trio’s alma mater in describing the successful launch of the company.

“We find that Radford University provides the true brain power, talent and hard work needed to support a startup company like Cypherpath,” he said. “Our future success is built on partnerships with institutions like Radford University, which enable us to bring great products and services to market.“

Rogers is widely recognized as an expert in the education and training industry. He began his career as a founder and vice president of sales with Knowlogy Inc. in the 1990s. Payne said he and his Cypherpath co-founder have been in the training industry “for the majority of time since we were out of college until now.” 

And they work well together. “We have a good sense of our personalities, our business savvy and our business styles,” said Payne, who has been in the computer training and education business since 1992 and focuses on branding and sales for Cypherpath. “We think similarly, and together we complement each other in working toward a common goal.”

Dec 1, 2011
Chad Osborne