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Arlington-based Giant Oak raises $10M to expand work with financial institutions

The company's platform factors behavioral science into data analysis to screen for illicit activity, said CEO Gary Shiffman.

By Stephen Babcock

August 7, 2018--(Techinicall.ly DC)--For Gary Shiffman, a key part of analyzing data is studying human behavior.

Back in 2009, Shiffman began contributing a behavioral science approach to government projects using data to identify illicit activities such as drug trafficking and terrorism. He said publicly available data that people leave behind can be a tool for law enforcement, even if it’s in less visible channels of the web than are commonly used.

“Behavioral science works as well in countering ilicit markets as it does in ad sales in licit markets,” said Shiffman, a Navy veteran who served in policy roles at the U.S. Department of Defense and former chief of staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

In 2012, Shiffman founded Giant Oak to grow that combination of data analysis, computer science and social science. The company makes a platform to screen for what it terms “bad actors” called Giant Oak Search Technology.

Security remained a major focus as Giant Oak continued working with the government. In recent years, Shiffman said it also began exploring work with private companies. First among these are financial institutions, where anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and other regulations require vetting of customers to maintain compliance.

After a year-and-a-half of initial work with financial institutions, Shiffman said the company is ready to expand in this area. The company recently raised $10 million from Edison Partners, which will help grow sales and marketing, as well as development of the technology.

Based in Clarendon, the company currently has 15 employees. Shiffman expects hiring as it looks to double in size over the next year.

“We’re going to continue to focus on growing in the government space because we were built for the government space and love serving the public safety and public security communities,” Shiffman said. “With the investment from Edison, we will be able to focus on two verticals.”

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Giant Oak Closes $10 Million in Growth Capital from Edison Partners

Innovative machine learning and AI-based search platform identifies national security and financial sector threats

Arlington, VA, July 19, 2018--(CIO Dive)--Giant Oak, a leader in applying artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics for the security needs of government and industry, announced today a $10 million investment from leading growth equity investor Edison Partners. Proceeds will be used to fuel Giant Oak’s continued growth through expanding sales and marketing, software engineering, and behavioral science-based analytics for its proprietary search platform, Giant Oak Search Technology (GOST®). 

GOST was initially developed to screen the open, deep and dark web, and other data to help national security and law enforcement officials identify human trafficking, terrorist activities, and other security threats. GOST’s capabilities have since expanded into the commercial sector as a leading regulatory technology (RegTech) to help industries, including financial institutions, meet compliance requirements spanning KYC, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, as well as to manage and avoid reputational, regulatory, financial, and crime risk. Where banks previously manually reviewed hundreds of customers to identify suspicious activity, banks can now find the same negative conduct by examining as few as three cases and realize up to 97 percent in total cost savings. The company has seen significant growth across its government and financial services contracts and, importantly, experienced zero customer churn. 

“GOST delivers to national defense and security, law enforcement, financial services and private corporate risk managers the best solution to identify evidence of and manage human threats in a fraction of the time,” said Dr. Gary Shiffman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Giant Oak. “We combine quantitative methods, social science and computer science to screen for ‘bad actors’ and provide a unique, disruptive, and scalable solution with a cost-effective answer. We exist to identify illicit activity and negative media search information of interest to our clients. From screening for benefits like security clearances, customer acquisition, and recruiting, to helping identify terrorists and insider threats, and cybersecurity monitoring, GOST gives decision makers the information they need when it counts.”

Tom Vander Schaaff, General Partner of Edison Partners will join Giant Oak’s board of directors. "Giant Oak has built a security solution that is not only changing but disrupting the way government and industry mitigate risk when performing background investigations on the Internet," said Vander Schaaff. "What this team has developed over the last five years is a major advance in the search and retrieval industry and is demonstrating hard ROI for customers. We're excited to help Giant Oak further accelerate and scale growth.” 

GOST, a patent pending SaaS platform, combines behavioral science, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that constantly improve themselves across each domain and each search, leading to better results and user experiences. The platform allows users to build custom information domains for high-speed, large-scale, and customer-specific screening, minimizing false positives in investigations to optimize human time and conduct continuous evaluation on large entity data sets.  The company is well-positioned for continued government and financial services traction and naturally fits with a much broader set of industry customer bases and use-cases. 

“Edison is an ideal partner for Giant Oak, and for more than our capital needs,” said Dr. Shiffman. “Their team possesses expertise in our business model and target markets, and access to their Edison Edge platform gives us an extra boost of capability to realize our vision and growth plans.”

Dr. Shiffman, a Georgetown University professor and former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has worked on anti-terrorism and homeland defense issues, advised U.S. Senators as a National Security and Senior Policy Adviser, and served policy, planning and operational positions in the U.S. Department of Defense. He is also a decorated U.S. Navy Gulf War veteran.

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Giant Oak Closes $10 Million in Growth Capital from Edison Partners

ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Giant Oak, a leader in applying artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics for the security needs of government and industry, announced today a $10 million investment from leading growth equity investor Edison Partners. Proceeds will be used to fuel Giant Oak’s continued growth through expanding sales and marketing, software engineering, and behavioral science-based analytics for its proprietary search platform, Giant Oak Search Technology (GOST®).

GOST was initially developed to screen the open, deep and dark web, and other data to help national security and law enforcement officials identify human trafficking, terrorist activities, and other security threats. GOST’s capabilities have since expanded into the commercial sector as a leading regulatory technology (RegTech) to help industries, including financial institutions, meet compliance requirements spanning KYC, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, as well as to manage and avoid reputational, regulatory, financial, and crime risk. Where banks previously manually reviewed hundreds of customers to identify suspicious activity, banks can now find the same negative conduct by examining as few as three cases and realize up to 97 percent in total cost savings. The company has seen significant growth across its government and financial services contracts and, importantly, experienced zero customer churn.

“GOST delivers to national defense and security, law enforcement, financial services and private corporate risk managers the best solution to identify evidence of and manage human threats in a fraction of the time,” said Dr. Gary Shiffman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Giant Oak. “We combine quantitative methods, social science and computer science to screen for ‘bad actors’ and provide a unique, disruptive, and scalable solution with a cost-effective answer. We exist to identify illicit activity and negative media search information of interest to our clients. From screening for benefits like security clearances, customer acquisition, and recruiting, to helping identify terrorists and insider threats, and cybersecurity monitoring, GOST gives decision makers the information they need when it counts.”

Tom Vander Schaaff, General Partner of Edison Partners will join Giant Oak’s board of directors. "Giant Oak has built a security solution that is not only changing but disrupting the way government and industry mitigate risk when performing background investigations on the Internet," said Vander Schaaff. "What this team has developed over the last five years is a major advance in the search and retrieval industry and is demonstrating hard ROI for customers. We're excited to help Giant Oak further accelerate and scale growth.”

GOST, a patent pending SaaS platform, combines behavioral science, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that constantly improve themselves across each domain and each search, leading to better results and user experiences. The platform allows users to build custom information domains for high-speed, large-scale, and customer-specific screening, minimizing false positives in investigations to optimize human time and conduct continuous evaluation on large entity data sets. The company is well-positioned for continued government and financial services traction and naturally fits with a much broader set of industry customer bases and use-cases.

“Edison is an ideal partner for Giant Oak, and for more than our capital needs,” said Dr. Shiffman. “Their team possesses expertise in our business model and target markets, and access to their Edison Edge platform gives us an extra boost of capability to realize our vision and growth plans.”

Dr. Shiffman, a Georgetown University professor and former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has worked on anti-terrorism and homeland defense issues, advised U.S. Senators as a National Security and Senior Policy Adviser, and served policy, planning and operational positions in the U.S. Department of Defense. He is also a decorated U.S. Navy Gulf Warveteran.

About Giant Oak

Arlington, VA-based Giant Oak is a data analytics software company led by behavioral scientists, security professionals, and software engineers who expertly apply technologies to support law enforcement, national security, compliance, trafficking, fraud, and other illicit actives. Founded in 2012, Giant Oak software employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to support behavioral-science based analytical tool development. The company's software-based solution, GOST, simplifies negative media searches and searching in publicly-available information, tasks which historically produce overwhelming amounts of false information. For more information, visit www.giantoak.com.

About Edison Partners

For more than 30 years, Edison Partners has been helping CEOs and their executive teams navigate the entrepreneurial journey and build successful companies. Through the unique combination of growth capital and the Edison Edge platform, consisting of operating leverage, the Edison Director Network, and executive education, Edison employs a holistic approach to accelerating growth and creating value for businesses ($5 to $20 million in revenue) in financial, healthcare and enterprise technology sectors. Edison investment objectives also include: buyouts, recapitalizations, spinouts and secondary stock purchases. Edison’s active portfolio has created aggregate market value exceeding $10 billion. Its long-tenured team based in Princeton, NJ manages more than $1 billion in assets throughout the eastern United States.

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NPR Interviewed Giant Oak CEO Gary Shiffman

NPR interviewed Giant Oak CEO Gary Shiffman on the use of big data for national security. In the interview, Gary Shiffman addressed the concerns about the use of algorithms and machine learning for identifying threats to the United States, explaining that the technology is focused on enhancing human decision-making and not turning critical choices over to some AI. Current U.S. policy does not permit robots or artificial intelligence to make final decisions about important national security issues, and nor is technology at the point where it can make autonomous decisions of this scale. Nonetheless, U.S. security agencies are tasked with protecting the country from an ever-increasing number of threats on a daily basis without a commensurate growth in personnel to analyze and vet the data generated. Due to labor limitations, mistakes are likely, and the public's tolerance for errors is low. Instead, Gary Shiffman argues that people should focus on how "technology improves everyday," and how the U.S. government can take advantage of these improvements to empower individuals to make better decisions. 

You can hear the full interview here.

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Gary Shiffman, CEO of Giant Oak Contributes to New Anti-Money Laundering Report

The Clearing House Publishes New Anti-Money Laundering Report

https://www.theclearinghouse.org/~/media/TCH/Documents/TCH%20WEEKLY/2017/20170216_TCH_Report_AML_CFT_Framework_Redesign.pdf


Leading experts and practitioners recommend reforms to improve AML/CFT effectiveness

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Clearing House released a report entitled A New Paradigm: Redesigning the U.S. AML/CFT Framework to Protect National Security and Aid Law Enforcement.  The paper analyzes the current effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime, identifies fundamental problems with that regime, and proposes a series of reforms to remedy them.

The report reflects conclusions reached in two closed-door symposia, in April and October 2016, that convened approximately 60 leading experts in this field.  The group included senior former and current officials from law enforcement, national security, bank regulation and domestic policy; leaders of prominent think tanks in the areas of economic policy, development, and national security; consultants and lawyers practicing in the field; FinTech CEOs; and the heads of AML/CFT at multiple major financial institutions.  The first meeting focused on problems with the current regime; the second focused on a review of potential solutions.  The conclusions on both are set forth in the report.

Said Greg Baer, President of the Clearing House Association, “Today’s report reflects a remarkable consensus on how to substantially increase the effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime.  Those participating in the effort come from a wide range of disciplines and reflect a variety of interests, but have reached a common diagnosis of the problems with the current regime and in their prescription for reform.”

Among those participating in the symposia and supporting the report are the following individuals, acting in their personal, non-institutional, capacity:

  • Gary Shiffman, CEO, Giant Oak
  • H. Rodgin Cohen, senior chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell;
  • David D. DiBari, managing partner of Clifford Chance, Washington office; 
  • James H. Freis, Jr, former Director of FinCEN; chief compliance officer, Deutsche Börse Group;
  • Aaron Klein, policy director, Center on Regulation and Markets, Brookings Institution;
  • Sharon Cohen Levin, former Chief, Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York; partner, WilmerHale;
  • Joseph Myers, former Director, International Financial Affairs in the Office of Combating Terrorism, National Security Council; vice president, Western Union;
  • Chip Poncy, former senior Treasury official; President, Financial Integrity Network; Senior Adviser, Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance;
  • Vijaya Ramachandran, senior fellow, Center for Global Development;
  • Elizabeth Rosenberg, senior fellow, Center for a New American Security; and
  • Juan C. Zarate, former senior Treasury official; former Deputy National Security Adviser; Chairman, Financial Integrity Network; Chairman, Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance.

 
In addition, the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF) at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has also endorsed the report.

The report identifies eight reforms for immediate action:

·         The Department of Treasury, through its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI), should take a more prominent role in coordinating AML/CFT policy across the government;

·         FinCEN should reclaim sole supervisory responsibility for large, multinational financial institutions that present complex supervisory issues;

·         Treasury/TFI/FinCEN should establish a robust and inclusive annual process to establish AML/CFT priorities;

·         Congress should enact legislation, already pending in various forms, that requires the reporting of beneficial owner information at the time of incorporation, preventing the establishment of anonymous companies;

·         Treasury TFI should strongly encourage innovation, and FinCEN should propose a safe harbor rule allowing financial institutions to innovate in an FIU “sandbox” without fear of examiner sanction;

·         Policymakers should incentivize banks to work on investigations and reporting of activity of high law enforcement or national security consequence; 

·         Policymakers should further facilitate the flow of raw data from financial institutions to law enforcement to assist with the modernization of the current AML/CFT technological paradigm;

·         Regulatory or statutory changes should be made to the safe harbor provision in the USA PATRIOT Act (Section 314(b)) to further encourage information sharing among financial institutions, and the potential use of utilities to allow for more robust analysis of data; and

·         Policymakers should enhance the legal certainty regarding the use and disclosure of SARs.

Giant Oak adds new video on how to use GOST™

If you've been wondering how GOST™ can help you triage your identities fast and efficiently, watch the new video below, or on our product page, and sign up for a free live demo with the live demo button under this post, or in the footer.

http://www.giantoak.com/products/#gost

Want to get a Live Demo of the Giant Oak Search Technology (GOST)? Click the link below!

Giant Oak CEO Gary Shiffman quoted in article on BSA/AML from TCH Conference in NY

At the Clearing House Annual Conference in New York, experts and
observers discussed how BSA/ASL compliance can benefit from some
changes. Panelists posited that the currently regulatory framework
should focus more on tracking malicious actors, preparing for
potential breaches, and improving incentives for banks to share
information that supports AML efforts. Giant Oak CEO Gary Shiffman
also argued that requirements are constantly added in the AML regime,
but priorities are never updated. According to Dr. Shiffman, instead
of simply introducing new requirements, regulators, law enforcement
agencies, and banks themselves will achieve better results if they
regularly coordinate to establish clear priorities.

To learn more read an article from SNL here:

https://www.snl.com/interactivex/article.aspx?cdid=A-38595159-11557&KPLT=8&Multiview=0

How Can Banks Use Advanced AML Tools to Stop Funding for Terrorists?

This Sunday, November 13th, the CEO of Giant Oak, Gary Shiffman, will be featured as a panelist at the ABA Money Laundering Enforcement Conference. Mr. Shiffman will be discussing how advanced search capabilities used by the government to track human and drug traffickers can be adopted by financial institutions to stop the flow of money to criminal and terrorist organizations. 

The panel is named "Interaction Monitoring--The Next Frontier?" and will be held from 10 am to 12 pm, and then again from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM. The ABA Money Laundering Enforcement Conference will be held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. and is for AML and fraud professionals in the legal and banking industries.  

Mr. Shiffman will be joined on the panel by senior AML executives from Santander Bank, PwC, and Wells Fargo. 

http://www.giantoak.com/events/2016/10/31/aba-money-laundering-enforcement-conference

Giant Oak CEO, Gary Shiffman in an Interview with NextGov

Giant Oak CEO, Gary Shiffman, recently sat down with NextGov reporter Mohana Ravindranath to discuss Giant Oak's unique approach to finding bad guys with big data and behavioral science. Dr. Shiffman explained that many other companies approaches are rudimentary: they check and see if a name is on a list. Giant Oak, on the other hand, understands that while they may not appear on a list, "the clever people are going to behave in ways that are understandable and predictable." That means that we can find them with the right tool, which is where our search tool 'GOST' comes in. 

Read more about Giant Oak & GOST here: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2016/10/agencies-try-tool-digs-what-google-doesnt/132730/

Giant Oak's founder & CEO, Gary Shiffman, recently published an article with The Clearing House's Banking Perspectives on technology, banking regulations, and law enforcement.

Dr. Shiffman discusses the breakdown in communication between banks, regulators, and law enforcement, and points out a missing piece of the equation: technologists. Emerging technology, he argues, provides opportunities for banks to keep up with regulation requirements while helping law enforcement meet their mission.

Read the full article here:  https://www.theclearinghouse.org/research/2016/2016-q3-banking-perspectives/aml-tech-factor

 

Giant Oak's founder Gary Shiffman was quoted in the new Center for a New American Security

CNAS report on OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE & THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, by Ben FitzGerald, Peter L. Levin, and Jacqueline Parziale.

The report details several use cases of Open Source Software in the DoD, and reflects on the advantages and critiques of using Open Source Software in such an environment. With more commercial and government software stacks incorporating open source components, and DARPA's continuing Open Catalog project, these topics are important to consider for any software development.

Read the report here: https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/open-source-software-and-the-department-of-defense

Giant Oak's founder Gary Shiffman was quoted in this morning's New York Times discussing credit card fraud and the Brooklyn rap scene

The recent arrest of several members of the rap group 'Pop Out Boyz' has shed light on the prevalence of credit card theft taking place over the internet. In the group's song 'For a Scammer,' the rappers boast “I’m cracking cards ’cause I’m a scammer." In response, Dr. Shiffman states, "You don’t need to be a criminal mastermind to pull this off; it’s not that hard to get the numbers."

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/…/rappers-based-lyrics-on-their-cred…

   
  
 
  
    
  
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   Members of the Brooklyn Rap group Pop Out Boyz and their associates were arrested on charges of grand larceny on April, 26th. -Alec Tabak

Members of the Brooklyn Rap group Pop Out Boyz and their associates were arrested on charges of grand larceny on April, 26th. -Alec Tabak

GIANT OAK PRESENTS AT HUMAN LANGUAGE TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE MARCH 31, 2016

This past Thursday, March 31st 2016, Giant Oak’s President and CEO, Dr. Gary Shiffman, and Dr. Sherry Forbes, a social scientist at Giant Oak, presented at this year’s Human Language Technology Conference (#HLTCon) at the Ritz Carlton in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. As a whole, this year’s HLTC used the context of the current refugee crisis as a platform for discussing big data analytic solutions to important world problems. For more information on HLTC, visit: http://www.hltcon.org/

 Dr. Shiffman and Dr. Forbes contributed to the conversation with their presentation, discussing how Giant Oak has used Natural Language Processing (NLP) to help our work combating human trafficking, and in countering the trade in endangered species domestically and abroad. For more information, see the HLTC website, search the hashtag on Twitter or contact us directly. 

Photo credit: Carl Hoffman (@cwh02139) pic.twitter.com/rLN0BQWGLV

GIANT OAK'S JACOB SHAPIRO WITH ELI BERMAN IN POLITICO MAGAZINE, ON WHY ISIS WILL FAIL ON ITS OWN

December 29, 2015

In the accelerating public discussion of ISIL, it’s easy to become focused on what we don’t know: its elusive leader, its shadowy connections abroad, the gruesome propaganda emanating from somewhere on the Internet. Much about the group suggests a mysterious terrorist entity with an apocalyptic ideology that aspires to strike everywhere, including here in America. Reporting on ISIL is extremely inconsistent, its leaders rarely appear in public and its extensive social media machine makes it hard to tell its propaganda from fact.

MORE - http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/11/why-isil-will-fail-on-its-own-213401#ixzz3tB9XUr00

GIANT OAK'S JACOB SHAPIRO WITH STEPHEN BIDDLE ON THE WASHINGTON POST'S MONKEY CAGE, DISCUSS HOW TO CONTAIN ISIS

Critics have long called the U.S.’s Syria policy feckless. But the Paris attacks brought this to a head, with renewed calls for escalation to end the Islamic State’s threat and prevent another Paris.


But the critics’ policies won’t end the threat either. More than a decade of continuous warfare against militants in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere have taught us a great deal about what works, what doesn’t, and why. And that experience suggests that to defeat the Islamic State — defined as eliminating its ability to carry out Paris-style terrorism — would require a vastly greater effort than almost anyone now proposes, and a vastly greater effort than the American public is likely to support.
U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles taxi the runway after landing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Nov. 12, 2015. Six F-15Es are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and counter-Islamic State missions in Iraq and Syria. (USAF/Tech. Sgt. Taylor Worley/Handout via Reuters)
MORE - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/12/01/heres-why-we-can-only-contain-the-islamic-state-not-bomb-it-back-to-the-stone-age/ 

GIANT OAK'S JACOB SHAPIRO ON NPR'S ONPOINT WITH TOM ASHBROOK, ON THE STRUCTURE OF ISIS’S ECONOMY

ISIS, Inc. The terrorist organization is raking in billions –from oil, grain, antiquities, and taxes. We look at how to break the ISIS bank. Plus, Turkey downs a Russian plane. We’ll have the latest.

This photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 shows fuel tanks hit during the attack of Russian warplanes in Syria. Russian warplanes on Monday attacked oil extraction, transport and refinement facilities in areas controlled by Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

MORE: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2015/11/24/isis-economy-finances-oil

DARPA’S NEW SEARCH ENGINE PUTS GOOGLE IN THE DUST

February 13, 2015 By Hallie Golden Nextgov

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s foray into fighting hackers and other malcontents on the Web can be summed up in a single probing question.

“How can I make the unseen seen?” Dan Kaufman, the director of DARPA’s information innovation office director, said last week in a feature on “60 Minutes.”

The answer, Kaufman said, is Memex. Developed by DARPA, this search engine on steroids dives deep into the realm of the “Dark Web” and spits out a data-driven map detailing all of the patterns it’s unearthed.

After only one year in use, Memex has already played an important role in about 20 different investigations, according to officials.

MORE - DARPA’s New Search Engine Puts Google in the Dust

WASHINGTON EXECUTIVE PROFILES GIANT OAK CEO GARY SHIFFMAN

As President and CEO of Giant Oak, a software company focusing on big data and behavioral analytics, Dr. Gary Shiffman keeps busy, which keeps him happy.

“Being the CEO of a small and growing company is the most fun I could imagine having in the office,” he said. “It is a process which requires one to do 50 different things every day, and I love the pace.”

But running a successful company is far from being the only thing Shiffman has on his plate. He has been a professor at Georgetown University for the past 12 years, the place he describes as the source of his greatest intellectual challenges. And this is perhaps the key

MORE - Washington Executive Profiles Giant Oak CEO Gary Shiffman