An EPIC Winner
This year’s challenge was simple … that is, if you’re David Vigna, founder of Frost Mountain LLC and winner of AFCEA International’s Emerging Professionals in Intelligence Committee’s (EPIC) 2022 App Challenge.
After proving his app’s idea, experience and implementation to a panel of seven judges, Vigna went home filled with pride and accomplishment—and a grand prize $13,000 check. The 2022 App Challenge was sponsored by CGI, Leidos, Riverside Research and TRSS.
“I started with error handling and auditing for a sensitive dashboard I was working on, and I just kept adding modules … one of the judges said, ‘You just made an end-to-end zero trust framework’ and I was like, I guess I did,” Vigna recalled.
The objective of this year's challenge was to identify, describe, demonstrate and defend against current cyber threats by combining multiple open source satellite data sets—such as the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Explorer, NASA Earthdata Search, National Oceanic Atmospheric Association Data Access Viewer, DigitalGlobe Open Data Program and more—to create an application, data visualization or presentation, and demonstrate how the growing amount of satellite data is crucial to solving current-day problems.
Earlier iterations of the annual App Challenge focused on the development of software applications to address specific and relatively narrow national security technology challenges. However, due to an increase in severity, complexity and frequency of state and nonstate attacks to malignly influence and damage various targets, the EPIC competition broadened its aperture of acceptable solutions to include not only custom software applications but also demonstrations of security techniques and digital forensics.
AFCEA’s EPIC group is comprised of professionals under the age of 40 in the intelligence and national security community who focus on developing leaders, encouraging networking and contributing to the intelligence community.
As Christopher Scolese, director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), mentioned during the Intelligence & National Security Summit 2022, the technological and cost barriers to space access are decreasing. Satellite production, launch, exploration and spaceflight operations are taking place in more countries than before. This means more data sets are readily available to malicious actors.
“My project started a few years ago,” said Vigna, “and in 2019, I formed my LLC to start working on patents and a proof of concept in my spare time, between full-time contracts. My focus was creating a more secure dashboard with embedded report widgets that could be shared between different user groups.” Vigna went on to call the project “For Reporting of Sensitive Tables and a MOUNTAIN of data” which is how his company name Frost Mountain LLC came to be.
Our framework should help with collaboration between server and database administrators, internal and external development teams and the cyber team.
The now fully patented processes provide additional drill downs to various functional user groups to protect applications’ functional structures of folders, subfolders and file access for different user groups and access levels. “The core modules are designed to proactively secure data at the modeling level when creating applications and reports,” Vigna noted. "Our framework should help with collaboration between server and database administrators, internal and external development teams and the cyber team."
“There is no question that space is a more conflicted environment in today’s ever-changing threat environment,” said Ray Cross, AFCEA’s vice president for Intelligence. “With the deluge of open source and other available space-based data sets, it’s crucial we uncover innovative ways to mitigate the threats posed by all this widely available data. This year’s AFCEA EPIC App Challenge serves as an ‘innovation igniter,’ particularly among small businesses competing in the defense and security tech sector.”
A huge congrats—and $3,000— also go to second place winner Lernaean Hydra.