WHERE WE CAME FROMAIS was founded as a software company focused on critical Air Force and DoD cyber technology requirements research. We staffed and operated the Adversarial Sciences Laboratory (ASL) within the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Information Directorate in Rome, New York, handling all areas of cyber operations. Since then, we have grown to become a national leader in this highly dynamic and emerging field, supporting customers throughout business, industry and the federal government.
The Pirate Flag Story
If you’ve ever walked through the front doors of AIS headquarters, you may have seen the pirate flag proudly waving on the flag pole.You may not know, though, that this flag has been an essential part of AIS’s identity since the beginning – even before the company officially existed.
Technology PioneersOur technical staff are highly credentialed professionals, many with advanced degrees or professional certifications in disciplines such as computer science, computer engineering, mathematics, software engineering, electrical engineering, and operations research.
WHO WE ARE
At the ForefrontFrom testing drones, searching for vulnerabilities in secure software, to building tools to support the warfighter, AIS leads groundbreaking efforts in all areas of cyber and information security.
Get To Know AISAIS was named by Cybersecurity Ventures as #101 on the prestigious Cybersecurity 500 list for 2018. The company was also the recipient of the Mohawk Valley EDGE’s Leading EDGE Award.
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Who We Are
We provide government and commercial customers with industry leading cyber and information security capabilities and services, specializing in research, development, consulting, testing, forensics, remediation and training. At AIS, we remain at the forefront of creating and defending a secure cyber and information space. We envision our clients, their customers and our nation’s citizens being able to safely operate and conduct business with efficiency and confidence.
The Pirate Flag Story
Back when Charles Green, CEO of AIS, worked in the ASL at AFRL, the pirate flag was an important symbol. So much so, that when the decision was made to start AIS, the flag became a part of the company’s identity right away.
“The flag was pre-AIS, but we were formed in the ASL, so we inherited it from them,” said Green. “They had adopted the flag because we were being challenged to do things differently.”
Eric Thayer, who is now AIS’s Principal Investigator for the Systems Analysis and Exploitation Group was also working in the ASL with Green before AIS became a company. The lab was doing a significant amount of cyber research, which at that time was not the norm.
“At that point the flag signified ‘the hacker’,” said Thayer. “We had a hacker mentality and approach from the beginning; we had an unconventional way of looking at things and doing things.”
To AIS, being different means more than just standing out from the competition. Having a fun and easy-going company culture was, and continues to be, one of the most important ways the ASL, and later AIS, stood out from the rest.
“In the Lab, we were dressing and behaving differently and just trying to buck the system, but with our government leadership’s encouragement to do so,” said Green. “It wasn’t always met with the best receptions. Some other people in the Lab didn’t like how we were doing things, and different leadership came in and out having different opinions about it, but we still did our own thing.”
Dan Kalil, AIS Vice President of Commercial and Marketing, was working close by in the Forensics Lab at the time. The ASL and the Forensics Lab were either in the same room or right next to each other, so they were always connected. Since the labs were so close, they both adopted the idea of breaking the mold of a traditional work environment.
“Our superiors were charged with helping to define, develop and deploy a discipline that was truly in its infancy at that time, so they knew they needed a team that thought and operated differently,” said Kalil. “As a result, they let us establish an almost dorm-like atmosphere where we could get quality work done, while also not taking life too seriously. I remember one-time cooking breakfast for everyone and blowing all the circuits in the kitchen upstairs. While we were still respectful, we didn’t concern ourselves with the business side of things or stereotypical office behavior.”
Kim Howard, Information Systems Security Manager, remembers that when AIS moved out of the lab and into a new office on Hill Road in 2005, employees kept their senses of humor.
“The floors were so cold at that office in the winter that everyone wore slippers, and you’ve never seen such crazy slippers,” said Howard, with a smile on her face as she remembered some of the most interesting slippers employees would wear while at work.
Working hard while still being true to yourself is a difficult task, especially when working in the cybersecurity field. Having the pirate flag waving tall reminds employees about how essential that balance is, and how maintaining that balance everyday makes us different, like the company has always been. When the Rome office on Brooks Road was built in 2011, it was important to incorporate the flag to represent the company’s heritage. Raising the flag was a way of adding AIS’s own touch into a seemingly corporate building.
“We had a nice new fancy building that looked like a corporate environment,” said Thayer. “Clean walls, shiny floors and big offices, but it didn’t quite have our own flavor. A couple of us went on a mission to the hardware store and got some cables, then we went out after hours one night, lowered the flag, and put the pirate flag up and raised it. It’s been that way ever since.”
The cybersecurity industry’s landscape has grown drastically over the years, but AIS has endured the test of time and continues to thrive. Assuring employees know their purpose and the journey this company has been on creates a connection between the employees and the company, as well as each other.
“To me, the flag represents longevity,” said Kalil. “We’ve been doing this for almost 20 years and if you think of all the companies that have come and gone since us, it’s really something to be proud of.”
Each employee contributes to the writing of AIS’s history, whether they’ve been with AIS since the beginning, or are newly hired. The story of the pirate flag unites the company, keeps employees grounded in our values and helps push AIS toward the next part of our story.
“We’ve had to grow up a little bit, but it reminds us where we came from and who we are at the core. We cannot let go of that,” said Green.
Our corporate and business staff are among the best in the industry, valued for their responsiveness and attention to detail.
Researchers at AIS have many opportunities to work on a diverse range of exceptionally challenging problems, and are routinely encouraged to define new research programs that align with their personal interests. Many of our teams are made up of the unique combination of experts in cyber security, engineering and computer science.
We support and acknowledge the accomplishments of our exceptional staff members, who are responsible for our growth and national recognition.