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BRG Adds Cyber Security Firepower with Renowned Team Led by Thomas Brown

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Former federal law enforcement officers led successful Silk Road investigation; Brown named Global Leader of Cyber Security/Investigations

February 23, 2016
BRG press release

Berkeley Research Group announced the addition of five of the world's foremost cyber security experts. Thomas Brown, who leads the group, has been named as BRG's Global Leader of Cyber Security/ Investigations, while Christopher Tarbell and Matthew Edman, Ph.D. will be directors. Thomas Kiernan and Ilhwan Yum join as associate directors.

Brown, a former federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, teamed with Tarbell, Edman, Kiernan and Yum—then with the FBI—on some of the most significant cyber investigations of the Internet era. The group spearheaded the investigation, arrest and prosecution of the operators of Silk Road, a notorious $1.2 billion underground drug website, seizing $200 million worth of Bitcoins in the process—the largest such seizure ever. They also investigated and prosecuted the leadership of the prolific “hacktivist” groups Anonymous and LulzSec. A movie based on the Silk Road case is currently in production by 21st Century Fox.

“Tom and his team aren’t your run-of-the-mill cyber security consultants—they’ve been at the tip of the spear on cases where the whole world was watching,” said BRG Chairman Dr. David Teece. “Given the immense scope of cyber security today, both geographically and on a sector level, we have no doubt that this veteran team will be of incredible value to our clients across the board.”

“I am excited to be working with Tom and this team again. They are among the most respected, talented and sought-after cyber security experts in the world,” said the Global Leader of BRG’s Global Investigations + Strategic Intelligence practice, Allen D. Applbaum. “Their technical expertise coupled with deep investigative experience and skill will provide our clients with the cutting-edge solutions they need to address their most complex cyber threats.”

At the Southern District of New York, where Brown supervised the Complex Frauds and Cyber Crime Unit, he developed and led a range of cutting-edge and technologically complex investigations. They included the hacks of NASDAQ, Citibank and PNC Bank; Rove Digital, a massive botnet of more than four million computers; Liberty Reserve, an online digital currency used by criminals worldwide to launder over $6 billion in illegal proceeds; and Samarth Agrawal, who stole high-frequency trading code from Société Générale. Aside from his extensive cyber experience, Brown also led significant investigations and prosecutions of a wide variety of white collar offenses, including FCPA violations, tax fraud, economic espionage and theft of trade secrets, money laundering, securities fraud, bankruptcy fraud, identity theft, and criminal copyright theft, among others. He was also responsible for creating an innovative strategy to combat online piracy, which formed the basis for a continuing international intellectual property rights enforcement program by the Department of Homeland Security.

After leaving government service, Brown, Tarbell, Edman, Kiernan and Yum joined the private sector at an international consulting firm, where for two years they advised private- and public-sector clients on cyber security management and investigations. The group also regularly consults with government agencies seeking their expertise on cyber security matters.

“Clients value our unique insight and proven track record, so BRG’s depth of talent and breadth of knowledge are exciting for us—they give us the opportunity to create synergies across various practice groups and capabilities,” said Brown. “Our strength lies in our experience—not only in critical cyber security issues and crises, but in working together—and we’re confident this will lead to top-notch results for our clients.”

Tarbell buttresses his vast law-enforcement experience with a master’s degree in computer science and information security. His work as part of the FBI’s preeminent cyber crime squad allowed him to develop deep working relationships with law enforcement partners around the world. Tarbell regularly teaches cyber investigative techniques to law enforcement officers and lectures to business and government groups on various cyber threats.

Edman is a computer scientist who specializes in cyber security and investigations. He previously worked as a lead cyber security engineer for a federally funded research and development center, where he provided specialized computer network security research and development to federal law enforcement on a number of cases. He also worked as a senior vulnerability engineer for a global financial services, software and media company based in New York. He has been recognized within law enforcement and the U.S. intelligence community as a subject-matter expert on cyber investigations related to anonymous communication systems, such as Tor, and virtual currencies like Bitcoin.

Kiernan worked as a computer scientist for nearly 25 years at the FBI, where he supported numerous cyber crime, terrorism and national security investigations by analyzing electronic evidence and conducting extensive technical research. In recognition of his exceptional talent and experience, Kiernan has been a recipient of both the U.S. Attorney General’s Award and the FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Cyber Investigation.

Yum is practiced in cyber-event response and analysis, and also regularly provides trial support and data analysis for high-profile cyber investigations for the U.S. government. As a special agent with the FBI, Yum led numerous investigations, including many involving botnets, attacks on financial infrastructure by Eastern European-based cyber criminals, and hacktivists.

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