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I worked at BBN from 1996 to 1999. Not mentioned within the PDF is the role that BBN played in the Information Security space - a large portion of the L0pht (L0pht Heavy Industries / L0phtcrack / @stake, etc) worked at BBN. 4 out of 7 folks worked there. Peite Zatko (Mudge), myself, and later Chris Wysopal (Weld Pond / VeraCode) all worked in the IT Security department and were responsible for just about all things security related. Brian Oblivion also worked at the L0pht as an electrical engineer working on RF & satellite related work. Hobbit, author of netcat, also did some stints there in the late 90s. A large number of l0pht advisories came out the research and work we did to secure internal systems/software. We had some early access to Marcus Ranum’s new venture at the time - Network Flight Recorder and wrote some of the first modules. In early ‘99 I left BBN to work full time on the L0pht to write a set of hybrid protocol analysis/IDS signatures for NFR to help it become a true IDS system.

BBN was an amazing place; if you had a question about a protocol for example, you could track down one of the original authors of the RFC - sometimes they were located right down the hall.

BBN believed in employees and looked for people with passion, honesty and the desire to continually learn. I met my late wife at BBN. With a masters in Italian Literature and some scattered technical experience (satellite internet uplink/downlink stuff) she applied for a position at the company. They looked at her resume, lack of experience, and asked what Italian lit had to do with the Internet - “absolutely nothing” she replied, but expressed her interest in understanding how the Internet worked. They hired her in the CSC - Customer Support Center and slowly gave her training. She had great mentors and quickly jumped into becoming a Network Analyst, from there Infrastructure Engineer and finally to one of the peak technical groups (on the BBN Planet / networking side) - Network Engineering. Prior to BBN being sold out to GTE, she was one of two people that worked on peering arrangements for customers and other network providers. She knew the main backbone like the back of her hand and would haggle with companies to ensure that peering arrangements were fair and not one sided. Before the downfall, she argued internally as well - throwing salespeople under the bus when they’d over promise bandwidth from a local POP that was already approaching capacity. She started off with minimal technical experience and networking knowledge, but left with deep technical knowledge of Cisco router internals, BGP, and all things Internet/peering related. BBN believed in her, saw promise and invested in her - as they tried to do with everyone.

BBN was an awesome place - there was a hydro-acoustic submarine testing tank, some anechoic chambers, an amazing library, and some really cool technology. There was a meeting to show off “bullet ears” which involved a hidden sniper in a garage. The technology could identify the path of the bullet as well as the location of the sniper. For the 90s, it was an amazing place to be.

.. it always broke my heart when we were sold off to GTE to become GTE Internetworking. It eventually was bought by Verizon and spun off to become Genuity, which tanked. Level3 swooped in like vultures and picked over the remaining folks - you could keep your job if you moved to Denver or Atlanta from what I recall. Of the folks that moved, most of them were laid off in a few years. Sadly, BBN had ASN1, which Level3 scuttled in favor of their ASN - 3356.

It was a great place.


We overlapped there. I worked in a different security team in 97-98, the one that sold a certificate solution and where Stephen Kent was designing IPSec. Wish I’d spent more time learning from him, bright guy.

The GTE acquisition occurred one month after I moved to Boston and started there. Definitely a weird time.

thank you

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