An interview with local high tech company Referentia Systems, Inc., conducted in April, 2012.

Please tell us a little bit about Referentia: its history, current status, and future directions.

Referentia Systems Incorporated provides cybersecurity technologies and solutions for the federal government, the Department of Defense (DoD) and other organizations. We are an applied R&D company dedicated to addressing critical cybersecurity concerns threatening IT modernization. The company has received numerous awards and has a CMMI Level 3 certification. The Referentia Cyber Collaboration Center in Honoulu provides an operational testbed for developing cybersecurity solutions for our national defense and the smart grid.

referentiaWe have created four building block technologies for cyber-defense: LiveAction, an advanced network performance management tool with data collection, forensics, analysis, and visualization;  Time-Series Data Warehousing, a high performance, open solution for forensics, root cause and predictive analysis; CyberWalls, which wraps mission-critical applications in a secure encasement to thwart Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) and to prevent network leakage of critical information; and Secure and Flexible Data Exchange, a secure data exchange with semantic filtering based on plug-in data model adapters. Referentia continues to conduct research and development of technologies that can help make Hawaii a leader in the cybersecurity industry.

Can you tell us about one or two high tech projects Referentia is working on that would be of interest to the ICS community?

LiveAction transforms an existing network infrastructure into a real-time sensor to improve cybersecurity and maintain mission-critical operations. It provides both macro- and micro-level network visibility by leveraging IP flow technology, application data, secure enclave, Cisco QoS policies, and routing control in existing network devices.

referentia2smallThe development of LiveAction presents many interesting technology challenges: working with various vendors of network devices (Cisco, Juniper, HP, etc) and their APIs;  high volume storage of time-series of various forms of network data;  cybersecurity and forensic algorithm and analysis development;  graphical user interface design to best convey the information to the user; and client/Server and distributed architecture design.  More details can be found at ActionPacked Networks, a Referentia spinoff company.

Another interesting product is T-REX, a technology for time-series data warehousing and mining.   Many of today’s commercial government and military systems and technologies generate massive amounts of data.  T-REX is a high performance time series database that is specially designed to provide the real-time data accessibility needed to enable planning and operational decision making. T-REX provides native high performance interfaces for MATLAB, Python, .NET, and Java. Secure sharing is accomplished by combining T-REX with Referentia’s Sprocket product.

This system will benefit any application that involves the collection and analysis of large amounts of time-series sensor date. Example application areas include integrating renewable energies onto the smart grid and support vehicle health and reliability

What kinds of software development and high tech skills are you looking for?

We are always looking for strong software engineers and system engineers. Both are important to the development of our building block technologies at Referentia.

For entry-level software engineers, we are looking for:  a solid foundation in software engineering, with competencies in data structures, algorithms, software design, and development processes;  experience in ongoing software development through in-class and outside-of-class project work; and a solid foundation in object-oriented programming languages such as Java, C++, and C#

For mid-level software engineers, we are looking for the entry-level capabilities plus:  experience with big data and big analytics using tools such as Cassandra and Hadoop; experience with distributed architectures; knowledge of networking fundamentals; and skill in user interface development.

One thing we value in our engineers is the ability to learn new domains and technologies and apply them to our current problem. Because we focus on applied research and development, we often work on problem areas where no one has come up with a solution. We rely on our engineers to help create new solutions. Sometimes that means taking a different approach than has been previously taken or applying a new technology that has not been previously used. We value engineers who can flourish in these situations and aid in creating novel and relevant solutions.

If an ICS student was interested in working for Referentia in the future, what advice would you have for them?

First, apply for an internship at Referentia. Interns at Referentia work on real projects, have real tasks, and are just as much a part of the team as our full-time engineers. It is the best way that we know of for a student to acquire the skills and experiences needed to be successful at Referentia.

Second, work on projects inside and outside of the classroom. We have found that students who work on longer term projects are able to demonstrate a deeper knowledge of a specific area. These students are better equipped to hit the ground running at Referentia and immediately add value to a project. We look for students that have that extra experience.

For more information, please follow us on Twitter @Referentia or Facebook, contact us via email at refinfo@referentia.com, or call us at +1 800-569-6255.