Examining the ties between TrapWire, Abraxas and Anonymizer

Examining the ties between TrapWire, Abraxas and Anonymizer

Summary: Rumors are circulating that TrapWire surveillance is linked to Cubic Corporation's Anonymizer. Cubic claims TrapWire there is no affiliation. It's not that simple.

SHARE:

Conspiracy theorists have linked Abraxas Applications' TrapWire to anonymous web browsing software Anonymizer via Abraxas Corp. -- while Cubic Corporation, parent company of Abraxas Corp. has denied any affiliation to TrapWire.

210331-anonymizer_350

Open and shut case, right? Not so fast. History and shareholder responsibilities might be telling a different story.

Technically, Cubic has nothing to do with Abraxas Applications, which is behind TrapWire. But there are some historical vestiges as well as current shareholder arrangements that make the connections between Cubic, Abraxas Applications and Abraxas Corp. far more muddled than initially portrayed. 

People are saying that TrapWire is linked to Anonymizer -- popular among activists and at-risk populations -- because  Abraxas Corporation acquired Anonymizer in 2008.

Abraxas Corporation's parent company Cubic Corporation issued a statement saying that Cubic -- and its Abraxas Corporation -- have no affiliation with TrapWire, which they say is the product of a separate company, Abraxas Applications.

Cubic Corporation acquired Abraxas Corporation in November 2010 for $124 million. Cubic has three units focused on defense systems, mission services and transportation for military operations. Trapwire's software is designed to thwart terrorist threats and criminal attacks. In other words, Cubic and the two Abraxas companies live in opposite ends of the same neighborhood.

It's also true that Abraxas Applications was spun off -- out of Abraxas Corporation -- into its own software business in 2007, before the Anonymizer acquisition.

Abraxas Corporation developed TrapWire beginning in 2004 (PDF link to report of work shared between Abraxas Corporation and Abraxas Applications).

When TrapWire became ready to sell as a commercial product, Abraxas Applications was launched to do so in 2007.

The intent for Abraxas Applications at the outset was to have both Abraxas projects play together under the direction of both companies' former CEO, Hollis Helm, former chief of the CIA's National Resources Division.

From 2007:

Abraxas Applications hits the ground running. Abraxas Corp. previously won contracts to test TrapWire with the New York Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Department of Energy and Marine Corps.

The new company also can tap into Abraxas' work with defense and intelligence agencies and the connections of Abraxas founder and CEO Hollis Helms, who owns both companies.

The Abraxas twins certainly shared the same playground for the first three years of Applications -- and TrapWire's -- development.

Cubic Corporation wasn't the Abraxas Applications parent company during the development of TrapWire.

But here's where the ties between the three companies become a bit more nuanced.

It's important to note that as part of the 2010 merger, Ntrepid Corporation was assigned to Abraxas Corporation shareholders, which in turn received apparent control of Abraxas Applications.

As a condition of the merger, these shareholders were made to change the name of Abraxas Applications to something else: it became TrapWire, Inc. Perhaps three different company names breaks the ties between the entitities, but that's doubtful. 

Why? Anonymizer Inc. is a wholly owned subsidary of Ntrepidowned by Cubic Corporation. 

Topics: Security, Government, Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

0 comments
Log in or register to start the discussion