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U.S. Air Force Awards Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Funding to Area 1 Security for Cloud Email Security

Area 1 Security will engage in a program designed to introduce its cutting-edge anti-phishing solutions and technology to Air Force teams.

Area 1 Security announced it is the first integrated cloud email security company to be awarded the coveted Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the United States Air Force. The funding will be provided through AFWERX, a U.S. Air Force initiative focused on accelerating innovation by engaging entrepreneurs within the service’s programs. Established by Congress 50 years ago, the SBIR grants seek to empower the U.S. Air Force and its service members through innovative and forward-thinking technology partners, such as Area 1 Security.

As part of SBIR Phase I, Area 1 Security will engage in a program designed to introduce its cutting-edge anti-phishing solutions and technology to Air Force teams and develop a framework for future projects, including technical and other services.

With the funding, Area 1 Security, which has been recognized by Gartner as a Representative Vendor in the 2021 Market Guide for Email Security, will demonstrate its cloud email security solution to the U.S. Air Force. It is the first and only preemptive, cloud-native email security provider capable of stopping phishing campaigns 24 days (on average) before they launch. The company’s solution keeps inboxes clean of phishing threats, which cause 95% of cybersecurity incidents. Over a 12-month period, Area 1 Security prevented more than half a billion dollars in direct losses for some of the world’s largest healthcare, financial services, retail, and consumer goods brands.

Threat actors routinely target the Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) with email attacks that could lead to data breaches and agency compromise. One such high-profile attack took place against SolarWinds in December 2020. Russian hackers staged a successful phishing expedition that ultimately impacted more than 200 private and governmental agencies. In another attack last July, the U.S. and its allies condemned China for a cyber assault on Microsoft email servers. The hackers, believed to be supported by the Chinese government, carried out ransomware or cyber-extortion attacks for millions of dollars.

“We believe Area 1 Security could have helped prevent these attacks. The initial entry points for most nation-state cyber attacks are Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks that infiltrate the government’s trusted partners and technology providers. This can set off a chain of credential theft and other events that expose data and other critical assets,” said Patrick Sweeney, CEO of Area 1 Security. “We help organizations overcome these threats by protecting them across all phishing attack vectors — email, web, social and network — and ensuring that inboxes stay clean and free of threats. Our technology has proven that it can prevent these attacks across many commercial and governmental customers, and it is ready to adapt to the critical requirements of the U.S. Air Force.”

The DoD is not immune to BEC and other threats that typically target the private sector. For example, there has been a surge in military “spear phishing” as many personnel switch to telework. The 502nd Air Base Wing issued a warning about phishing email scams affecting countless airmen; as Col. Anthony Thomas, AFCYBER Operations director, has previously noted, “Spear-phishing attacks are a persistent threat to the integrity of our networks.”

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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