In-Q-Tel invests in StreamBase Systems

CIA-backed investment stirs health privacy fears

In-Q-Tel, the private venture capital firm created and funded by the CIA, has made a strategic investment in StreamBase Systems, a provider of high-performance complex event processing (CEP) software based in Lexington, Mass.

The two sides announced the investment today but did not release specific financial details.

Troy Pearsall, executive vice president for technology initiatives at In-Q-Tel, said the firm usually invests between $500,000 and $3 million in a company. The undisclosed amount will give In-Q-Tel an equity stake in StreamBase, said Bill Hobbib, vice president of marketing at StreamBase.

Hobbib said financial talks between the two companies have been going on for about a year.

CEP software can instantly analyze rapidly moving data without collecting it first, Hobbib said. “Traditional database management and architectures can’t actually keep pace with the volume and the speed of data that comes into modern intelligence systems,” he said. CEP doesn’t store data for analysis, Hobbib added. “It analyzes it right on the fly, as it is whizzing past.”

For example, he said, if a bank suddenly receives a large amount of incoming traffic from abroad using many different IP addresses, it could mean hackers are trying to break into the network. The instant the CEP software detects that anomaly, “it triggers an alert that will shut them out of the network,” Hobbib said. “The data is actually being analyzed in real time, on-the-fly, when milliseconds or seconds matter.”

Hobbib said the instantaneous response can also be integrated with stored data on hacker profiles to analyze the attack characteristics and make predictive decisions based on those patterns of behavior.

CEP has applications for intelligence, intrusion detection and network monitoring, and battlefield situations, he said, wherever those situations are key to national security.

Pearsall said In-Q-Tel determined that CEP was a critical new tool for intelligence gathering. “We’re looking to accelerate that capability in the marketplace,” he said. StreamBase will develop its own marketing strategy. “We’re just going to supportive of them as any investor would be,” he added.

Hobbib said In-Q-Tel has asked StreamBase to supply the federal government with certain intelligence capabilities. “There is a work agreement in place where we are delivering specific new features needed for the government and the intelligence community,” he said.

With In-Q-Tel’s backing, StreamBase expects to gain a bigger foothold in agencies that deal with surveillance, radio frequency identification sensor networks and geospatial information, Hobbib said. In addition, he added, In-Q-Tel will cite StreamBase as the preferred vendor of these sorts of technology.

Pearsall said In-Q-Tel may make a second investment in StreamBase if it is needed. “The reality is we just completed this transaction, and we’re just happy to be working with them, moving them forward to deliver their platform,” he said.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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