FBI Cyber Cop Joins Security-Software Firm

Leo Taddeo, a top cyber cop at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is leaving after more than two decades in government to become the chief security officer at security-software company Cryptzone.

Mr. Taddeo, 49, is stepping down as the head of the FBI’s special operations and cyber division, a position he held for the past two years. He supervised a number of high-profile cases, including the investigation into the online drug black market called Silk Road, which resulted in the conviction and life sentence of its founder Ross Ulbricht. Mr. Taddeo also helped lead the probe into the cybersecurity attack on J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., a breach that affected millions of households.

“In the bureau…he’s credited with getting a lot of those cases from the investigative stage to the prosecution stage, which is very hard,” said Louis Freeh, the former FBI director who now runs his own investigative firm.

In his new role at Cryptzone, Mr. Taddeo is expected to work with the executive board to identify and understand new cyber threats affecting companies. Cryptzone, which was founded in 2007 in Sweden, says it makes software that helps companies secure their data from hackers. Taddeo says the software aims to try and make it difficult for intruders to steal data even if they do successfully penetrate a company’s network.

Mr. Taddeo’s choice to join a relatively young software company is a departure from many of his former colleagues who have left the FBI recently to work at large consulting firms.

Milan Patel, the FBI cyber division’s former chief technology officer, and Austin Berglas, who was in charge of the FBI’s cyber branch in New York, have both left in recent months to join investigative consulting firm K2 Intelligence. Over the past year or so, former FBI cyber agents Christopher Tarbell, Ilhwan Yum and Thomas Kiernan have joined business-advisory firm FTI Consulting Inc.

The departure of Mr. Taddeo and other FBI cyber agents in recent months present an increasing challenge for the FBI to recruit and retain cyber agents, whose technical expertise and law enforcement background make them valuable hiring targets at higher-paying private companies.

Mr. Taddeo is leaving the FBI on retirement. He announced his departure last month but did not disclose where he was going.

Mr. Taddeo says part of the reason he’s leaving is to reunite with his family, who has been living in the Washington D.C. area during his two-year stint in New York. Most of his work will now be done out of the D.C. area, although he will maintain a presence in New York and Boston.

Mr. Taddeo studied physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received his law degree from St. John’s University. Prior to joining the FBI, he served as a tank officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was awarded a Purple Heart, and worked at law firm Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass LLP.

In his 20 years with the bureau, Mr. Taddeo was also the FBI’s legal attaché in Rome and the section chief managing FBI operations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Manuel Medina, the founder of private-equity firm Medina Capital, which acquired Cryptzone last year, said he met Mr. Taddeo about a year ago when they spoke together on a cybersecurity panel. Mr. Medina joked that after a “one-year romance,” Mr. Taddeo agreed to join Cryptzone.

“Leo is the number one draft pick,” Mr. Medina said.

Source: The Wall Street Journal 

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