By Maureen Werther
In Greek mythology, Soter was the god of safety, preservation and deliverance from harm. When Shaun Wiggins, George Dew and Sam Wiggins decided to start a cybersecurity and data analytics firm, they borrowed from the Greek myth to give their company, Soteryx, its name.
With backgrounds in the military, CIA clandestine services and law enforcement, the three men are positioned to offer cybersecurity, risk management, and crisis response, as well as data analytics, audience engagement and business intelligence.
Shaun Wiggins and George Dew met and became friends during their time working for the CIA and they talked about opening their own company back in the late 1990s. Sam Wiggins also worked with the CIA in clandestine services, but moved to law enforcement, working with the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before becoming associate administrator of the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security. He is now the executive vice president and president of Soteryx’s Business Intelligence Division.
In 2016, the three men decided it was time to start a venture and they acquired a small public relations firm in the Albany area. The company that emerged, Soteryx, works to help businesses “better engage” by more effectively utilizing data to achieve their goals.
According to their company’s website, Soteryx employs a “four-pillared platform that includes date security, data analysis, data-driven engagement, and data intel.”
Soteryx recently relocated its eastern U.S. office to 18 Division St. in Saratoga Springs. In addition to the Saratoga office, the company has locations on the West Coast, in Latin America and Europe. They work with businesses that use a network of computers and store or transmit confidential information.
“A business can only manage just so much information,” said Shaun Wiggins. “We help clients accomplish their goals and objectives in a new world order.”
He has achieved global recognition as a leading authority in analytics-based online and offline engagement. In addition to his time with the CIA, he has worked with companies like General Electric and Royal Dutch Shell.
George Dew, Soteryx’s executive vice president and president of its cybersecurity division, is a former Navy SEAL and CIA member. He also has an MBA from Georgetown University. After his time with the CIA, Dew ran a computer-networking, software-development and cybersecurity company for 18 years.
“Companies that store large amounts of personal identifiable information must be extremely careful with how they store that data, both at rest and in transit,” he said. Companies can be vulnerable to external penetration and compromise through what he referred to as “socially engineered attacks.”
“We worked with a CEO, whose administrative assistant was responsible for both his and his wife’s personal and financial information. The assistant received an email from her boss, who was traveling overseas, to transfer $1 million so he could purchase a piece of art.
“The assistant complied and soon thereafter, she received another request, this time for an additional $800,000. She started to think there might be a problem,” said Dew.
The CEO did not buy any art and he did not get his money back. The company had no mechanisms to ensure the authenticity of the emails that would verify or deny the validity of the sender.
Soteryx’s cybersecurity division focuses on these and other types of cyber-attacks through a combination of data protection, threat identification, breach mitigation and disaster recovery. The Soteryx team agreed that the data protection component is key, saving clients a lot of time, pain and money.
Sam Wiggins and his team focus on improving business operations by delving deeply into the people, deals, investments, social media footprint, past history of senior level executives and other areas of a corporation. They identify possible “insider threats” to the business and ensure that the company is not vulnerable to damaging attacks from within.
Sam Wiggins said that, as technological resources become more affordable to smaller and mid-sized businesses, they are better able to combat damages. But, it can be costly for a small or medium sized company to employ full-time personnel to manage the data intel and other components that a company like Soteryx manages.
Another key area of concentration for Soteryx is in audience engagement. Shaun Wiggins offered the example of companies that are mapping the human genome.
“We’re looking at public acceptance issues in these kinds of sensitive projects.” By working with companies to collect and analyze data, they can help craft the right message for a target audience.