In the classic hacker career narrative, a juvenile genius breaks into the Internet’s most sensitive networks, gets caught and then settles into a lucrative corporate gig selling his skills for defense. Nate Fick is trying to pull off the same story with an entire company.
Fourteen months ago Fick took over as chief executive of Endgame, perhaps the most controversial name in Washington, D.C. cybersecurity contracting. For years Endgame’s elite hackers worked in the shadows of the Beltway to build and sell “zero-day exploits,” an industry term for malicious code that abuses a previously unidentified vulnerability. As a contractor to military and intelligence agencies including the NSA, it enabled some of those customers’ most intrusive spying practices by offering ways to break into software from the likes of Microsoft MSFT +0.61%, IBM IBM +0.42% and Cisco for millions of dollars.