High-tech startup finds home in Central Vt. - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

High-tech startup finds home in Central Vt.

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Cords, wires and plugs -- things we often don't look twice at. And that's what Berlin company Pwnie Express counts on -- they want their products to blend in.

"It's a play on words to 'pwn' means to take control -- it's a gamer or hacker term," said Jonathan Cran with Pwnie Express.

This plug may look like an air freshener, but it's actually a device used to find security breaches for businesses. "It's meant to be sneaky, so you can plug it in and no one will notice. But they should notice it's on the network and doing malicious things, so it's kind of a training exercise to find that micro computer," Cran said.

Securing data is vital in an age when technology advances daily. Protecting things like credit card numbers, bank accounts or privileged information is paramount. Businesses pay big bucks for data security from companies like McAfee. That's where Pwnie Express comes in -- testing those security systems to make sure they're doing what they say -- not fixing problems, but finding them.  "The U.S. Government wanted us to make these to promote awareness that this could be done -- hackers have been doing this for years," Cran said.

The products allow companies to see how far a hacker could get in and what data they could steal.  Its newest product is an off the shelf tablet that Pwnie Express installs its own tools on.  It's different than its other products because it's meant to stand out and be portable. "What it allows you to do is take it with you and test wireless security and show enterprises that their wireless security isn't as strong as they might think it is," Cran said.

So to test the new product, this reporter logged onto an open wireless network. The Pwnie Tablet was able to see everything.

Reporter Gina Bullard: So this can tell exactly where I'm going and what I'm doing -- every move I make.

Passwords, Facebook data -- every move on the Internet up on the tablet.

Pwnie Express says on average, a company loses $5.5 million every time there is a data security breach.
The company started three 3 years ago. It employs nine people and has 1,500 customers that range from small businesses with two employees, to Fortune 500 companies, to what Pwnie would only define as 'high levels of government.'  This techie start-up company has found a hot spot.

"last year we did $700,000 and this year we're projected to do $2 Million," Cran said. "That's great for us."

Most of its devices cost around $1,000, but these self proclaimed geeks say securing data with products Made in Vermont is priceless.

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