This year, DataTribe announced two winners of the 2021 Challenge. ContraForce and are both moving forward with the potential for $2 million in seed funding.

Read on about 2021 DataTribe Challenge winner, ContraForce.

Q: Tell us about your background.

Stan Golubchik, CEO and Co-Founder

Stan was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan during the degrading years of the Soviet Union. His family was fortunate to be supported through sponsored family services in order to immigrate to the United States prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moving from Tashkent to Texas was quite the culture shock. However, being raised in an environment of technology due to his parents’ careers allowed Stan to become familiar with technology, software development, and hardware early in his childhood. This set the foundational pillars for his growth in the IT and cybersecurity space for the future. In parallel to his enthusiasm for the IT space, came a natural congruent interest in biological systems, and Stan went to the University of Texas at Dallas to focus on Biology and Physics. During this time, it became evident that while biology and physics were passions of his, his home remained within the technology space. He ventured back into the field of technology, first working as a Global Network Operator for a Fortune 500 company.

After cultivating experience in the space of the private sector within a global enterprise, Stan’s career expanded into the cybersecurity vendor space, working in companies such as Intel Security, McAfee, and Armor Cloud where Stan held a multitude of leadership roles. These spanned from cloud security architect, technical marketing, and Go-To-Market and growth strategies. Working with customers across these organizations, along with a distributed landscape of vendors and service providers, allowed Stan to triangulate on the inflection point cyberspace was heading towards, laying the groundwork for the start of ContraForce.

Ricky Melendez, CTO and Co-Founder

Ricky was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico and his family emigrated to the United States a couple days before his 3rd birthday. From an early age, his dad’s meticulous engineering work ethic and his relentless pursuit for a graduate degree cemented in Ricky a desire for higher learning and lifelong education. In school, he couldn’t get enough of math. For as much as he loved math and science in middle school and high school, he did not like the idea of being labelled as analytical or logical, absent any creativity. This motivated Ricky to explore all facets of technology. Then, his first taste of computer programming was his clearest proof that technical fields could indeed be creative. From then on, he fixed, built, broke, hacked any computer he could get ahold of.

Ricky graduated with a Mathematics degree specialized in Scientific Computation from the University of Texas at Austin. This education prepared him for his future endeavors in data science and kept him close to his passion in computer technology. Under a leadership and rotational program, Ricky then had the privilege of joining Intel Security which later became McAfee. At McAfee he later held roles as a Security Analyst, Security Engineer, and Security Architect. He took his Security Operations experience to Armor where the objective was to leverage this knowledge at scale. At Armor, his roles as Lead Consultant and Lead Security Engineer connected him with customers’ SecOps struggles like never before.

Q: Tell us about your business/idea.

ContraForce was founded in 2020 from a world class team of cyber operators and technologists who understood the inherent complexities of enterprise-level Security Operations (SecOps). The core technologies of highly effective Security Operation Centers (SOCs) have become even more complex to manage due to the deluge of data that is generated from sensors, applications, infrastructure, and network data.

At the outset of our work, having the capability to deploy and maintain the SecOps security stack in a simplified manner seemed like a pipe dream. The programmatic nature of these core tools deployed in a SOC requires extensive engineering and data science resources. With ContraForce, we wanted to provide a true security context for our customers. We define security context as high-fidelity detection signals and prescriptive automated response workflows without the burden of tedious onboarding and writing code. Our obsessive focus on simplifying the security operators experience flows through our ethos as we work to democratize SecOps for all businesses.

We solve our customers’ challenges by providing comprehensive threat coverage, detection, and response capabilities across the entire attack surface. This is achieved through our automated security fabric that overlays onto existing security infrastructure and security tools. The fabric abstracts the operators from the mundane work of traditional engineering responsibility, and places them at the helm of an AI-driven countermeasure platform to effectively defend against bad actors’ tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Q: What was the original inspiration for your company/product?

We predicated ContraForce from being on the front line of delivering a scalable global SOC to thousands of customers. That experience showed us that facilitating the orchestration of people, process, and technology was most definitely a war – but the status quo to win it was far from scalable. This story – as we soon found out – was not isolated to our previous experience but was rampant across the industry. A critical component has been the small and medium businesses ranging from the private to the public sector. These entities comprise a substantial part of our target market, as well as our supply chain.

We knew there was a better way to secure at scale the businesses which were ripe to be targeted by adversarial campaigns and nation station actors. Due to recent catalysts that exponentially increased the speed of digital transformation, the problem and opportunity were solidified for us, and we knew it would be our mission to secure those below the cyber poverty line.


Q: What’s your vision for the future? What will the market you are pursuing look like in 5-10 years?

The future will be one of accelerated consolidation, commoditized security tools, and a significantly lowered barrier to entry to construct complex data models.

The dominant solutions in the market which have driven analytics and correlation for the last two decades will be submerged beneath large scale API meshes that will facilitate the management of many tools by one platform. Operators and engineers will be able to carry out advanced threat modeling and generate advanced detection capabilities that are continuously adapted via feedback loops. This logic will be rooted on the variable state of systems in environments to allow for optimal automated response workflows for current and emerging threats and vulnerabilities. 

The user interface will deviate from overly complex dashboards and tidal waves of data, but rather be presented as a canvas of interactive neural networks for threat hunting and simple, yet intuitive, workflows.

Q: How does your business address pressing cyber and data challenges for the commercial sector?

The cyber and data challenges for the commercial sector are showing no signs of easing up and have been compounding. Supply chain attacks are now common and propagating from indirect side channels involving smaller companies (targeted as they are the weakest link in the chain). The rise and commoditization of Ransomware, Ransomware-as-a-Service, and the resurgence of well-established APTs and malware families are no longer just threats for the established enterprise segments. More now than ever we have witnessed ransomware damage to critical sectors such as healthcare and critical infrastructure. In response, the federal government has begun the rollout of federally mandated compliance frameworks that will now require new standards of security knowledge by the commercial sector.

ContraForce helps address the commercial sector’s challenge by improving their ability to detect and respond to threats, so they can combat cyber attacks in a timely manner. ContraForce is providing an autonomous SecOps platform – our AI-driven platform lets companies onboard any of their data sources within minutes so they can quickly benefit from faster machine-guided incident response to stop threats effectively. We have developed an automation security fabric that overlays on existing security infrastructure and tools to provide an intuitive and simple to use workbench for operators of any skill level to quickly prioritize security alerts, vulnerabilities, and automate detection and response engineering. Our no-code approach removes the need to learn complex query languages or maintain the endless cycle of writing security content, such as detection rules and playbooks. Our unified security platform simplifies the management of compliance and security controls across the increasingly bespoke IT environments of the commercial sector.

Q: What attracted you to the DataTribe Foundry? Why did you choose to participate in the DataTribe Challenge?

I was fortunate to meet with the DataTribe team previously, and was incredibly impressed with their lean-in attitude, and thought leadership approach of leveraging an unfair advantage for bringing disruptive and innovative cyber companies into the market.

We were able to follow up with the team once again shortly after our initial meeting, and their ability to quickly triangulate on market opportunity and understand our vision was a tremendous value-add. Our leadership found the experience and wisdom they had amalgamated while rapidly growing a highly successful portfolio of cybersecurity companies as highly instrumental to align with our near-term milestones and long-term vision.

The DataTribe Challenge provided a unique opportunity at the right time for ContraForce to present to leaders in the space and compete against some of the most promising startups in the space. Our team thrives on challenge, and our customers are grateful for the value we provide by stepping up to it.

Q: What’s your long-term vision for your business?

ContraForce will continue to deliver accessible SecOps capabilities to small and medium businesses, while providing the capability for service providers to promise on consistent and effective security services to their customers. We are focused on expanding coverage for those who are the indirect channel within supply chains attacks, all the way up to the top of the supply chain within the enterprise segment.

Organizations will be able to easily deploy, manage, and optimize against bad actors’ attempts to gain access and disrupt business. ContraForce will become the platform accessible to all to achieve advanced compliance attestation against frameworks such as CMMC, NIST, and CIS. We will help customers execute on highly optimized SecOps capabilities such as zero-day threat detection, and remediation times achieved in minutes – regardless of their vendor choice. Lastly, comprehensive MITRE ATT&CK and D3FEND coverage will provide immediate and long-term threat coverage for any size business without the need to ever write security content.

We are focused on becoming the operator’s interactive interface of choice. One simple place to combine and distill down to the most critical threat signals, and empowering defensive capabilities that rival the most advanced offensive capabilities we see today.