The first thing Barrett Lyon will tell you when he gets on stage is his age. At a youthful 27 years old he is rapidly becoming one of the most influential technologists of the day. He is founder of Prolexic Technologies, an Internet hosting service that defended dozens of its customers against everything cyber extortionists could throw at them. Many will know him as the motivating force behind the Opte Project that is mapping the entire Internet and creating beautiful images such as this one.
Barrett got started running a Bulletin Board Service (BBS) turned ISP. It was there that he began his lifelong battle against hackers. That experience was useful years later when he was asked to architect a defense for a sports information network that supplied scores and such to Las Vegas sports betting operations. He successfully helped them ward off a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). His work there drew the attention of the on-line gaming industry that, at the time, was under concerted attack from Eastern European cyber extortionists.
That led to the creation of Prolexic Technologies. Prolexic is a hosting service that proxies a client’s website, DNS, and email servers. Thanks to huge amounts of burstable bandwidth, negotiated with Barrett’s friends in the backbone business, and hardened servers and routers, Prolexic is able to defend a customer’s Internet presence against the simultaneous attacks from tens of thousands of zombies.
This past spring Barrett parted ways with Prolexic thanks to a dispute over control with the hired management; an all too common occurrence in fast growing technology firms: the founder and visionary gets displaced by the hired guns. Perhaps ironically, Prolexic failed to withstand an attack immediately following Barrett’s departure that came about because Prolexic was hosting UltraDNS which was providing DNS services for BlueSecurity which was distributing the BlueFrog software for fighting spammers. The spammers launched an attack that took out BlueSecurity forcing them to give up the battle while incidentally disabling most of Prolexic’s customers as well.
It is hard to catch up with Barrett these days because he is immersed in his next project. What would someone who grew up with the Internet and has learned its inner workings do next? His answer:
I'm currently building BitGravity (http://www.bitgravity.com). We are the next generation of content distribution. For the first time in a while, innovation is being pushed by the applications on the Internet. Businesses are incorporating more immersive and media rich content into their websites and people are finding successful models in Internet based video. Unfortunately, they are limited to the current networks that were designed in the mid 90's. I can't go a single day without seeing a video clip that does not play well or at all. BitGravity's network is designed to scale beyond those problems with a number of innovations that allow faster and more reliable delivery of content.