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12/12/2007
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Maiffret Says Bye to eEye

eEye co-founder Marc Maiffret, 27, has quietly left the security firm he started at age 17

Renowned hacker Marc Maiffret has left eEye Digital Security, the security company he launched ten years ago that used some of his hacking tools as the basis for its flagship product, Retina Network Scanner.

Maiffret actually left eEye back in September, but is only just now going public with the news. He's currently gearing up to launch a new, non-security startup by the end of the first quarter of next year. (See From Script Kiddie to CTO.)

Maiffret says he held off on spreading the word about his departure until the transition was complete, and that the decision to leave was all his. "I know there are always rumors about this sort of stuff, but very simply, I didn't want to get any older before I went out into the world to explore, if you will," says Maiffret, who co-founded eEye with Firas Bushnaq. "And probably for the first time I feel extremely comfortable with the awesome management team we have at eEye -- to be able to let go and not have to be there day in and day out."

Maiffret says he'll remain an adviser to the company and retain his stake in the company. For now, he's working as an independent security and technology consultant: "Everything from application assessments to product architecture/design/market positioning," he says. "A hired-gun CTO."

Maiffret almost overnight went from teen hacker/phone phreaker raided by the FBI to co-founder of eEye, where he discovered several critical Windows vulnerabilities in the late 1990s and later was part of the team of researchers at eEye that was one of the first to detect (and later name) the first major Microsoft worm, Code Red.

Rumors have swirled for months of troubles at eEye, but Maiffret dismisses them. "eEye is the healthiest it has ever been, which is what made my decision easier," he says.

Maiffret, known for his penchant for changing his hair color from bright reds to blues to greens, says he's an entrepreneur at heart. "I am a startup guy. I like having four people and a whole world to tackle," he says. "eEye is not that anymore -- it is an engine that is humming, and while there are always challenges in business, it is well on its way."

He's not ready to give details on his new venture just yet, but Maiffret says it's about mobile phones. "Most people these days are walking around with basically a small 400-500Mhz computer in their pocket, and the most we are doing with it is phone calls, SMS, email, and maybe GPS navigation -- which is kind of a waste, considering the amount of technology we have in our pockets," he says.

Maiffret says he also plans to get back into the trenches doing research, something he had to put on hold as eEye grew and his management duties expanded. "That is another reason why I am excited about doing some consulting -- to be able to roll up my sleeves more," he says.

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    Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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