October 22 2021

Why I Joined Skydio: Jeff Horne, Head of Security

Jeff Horne

Here in the United States, October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month —our yearly reminder to lock our work computers, avoid clicking on suspicious links, and refrain from sharing (or re-using) our passwords. Of course, cybersecurity isn't just something we need to think about in our personal or professional lives—it's a core issue impacting national security, and the safety of our critical physical and technological infrastructure.

I started my career in security at the age of 18, when I was hired by Internet Security Systems in Atlanta. Over the years, I've been on the frontlines of a number of cybersecurity issues—from conducting security vulnerability analysis via patch differentials and making exploits more reliable, to antivirus engine research and malicious code detection. I worked for many years as a security consultant helping large companies manage security breaches that involved malicious code. Often in these instances I would find myself in the position of leading their security operations in the interim—a position I really enjoyed—and ultimately decided to leave consulting and pursue security leadership. Since then, I’ve headed both cyber and physical security at several companies including SpaceX and Optiv.

My years in the industry showed me that strong cybersecurity has to be at the core of any company's values—a fact that is even more true when it comes to drones. As drones have expanded in scope from being consumer toys to critical tools for infrastructure and national security, we're seeing increasing demand for trustworthy solutions. This is particularly relevant as the cybersecurity and privacy demands of mature and highly regulated industries now extend to the cloud and security models like zero trust architecture are quickly being adopted.

When I first encountered Skydio, I knew the company had something very, very special. A future where autonomous technology transforms industries is on the horizon, but the vast majority of companies working in this space have yet to move beyond the theoretical to practical, customer-ready innovations. At Skydio, that future is already here.

At Skydio, we make drones useful by making them intelligent. And we have a vision to move the industry forward from inefficient manual operations to remotely operated drones-as-a-service housed in docks around the world, capable of delivering valuable services around the clock. But we also know that data security is critical to realizing the promise of these autonomous operations, and U.S. companies like ours can provide higher levels of data security for enterprise and public customers. That's why I'm so excited to join the team as Skydio's new Head of Security.

Skydio combines innovative technology and strong security to build drones with trustworthy autonomy that gives regulators confidence to enable more advanced operations. We design, assemble, and support all of our products in America—developing our software in-house and sourcing our core processors from U.S. companies. This allows us to provide a high level of supply chain security and serve as a trusted partner to customers with demanding security requirements.

Our Skydio X2 is designed to deliver enterprise-grade cybersecurity, offering signed and encrypted vehicle firmware, encrypted storage and data link encryption.

The only way to trust a connected device is to trust the manufacturer and the legal framework in which they operate. Skydio’s products have earned the trust of the world’s most exacting customers. The U.S. Defense Department has concluded that Skydio’s defense and enterprise products satisfy demanding supply chain security requirements required by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). For these reasons, Skydio X2 was selected as a trusted drone platform for the U.S. Department of Defense as part of the Defense Innovation Unit’s Blue sUAS program.

I knew I wanted to work for a company that had a great, easy-to-use product that could help keep people safe and make their work more efficient. And from my very first meeting with Skydio it was evident that the team also had something else that means a lot to me—passion. Along with being highly skilled and technical, the teams are passionate about their work, dedicated to making the products better and committed to truly helping our customers unlock the promise of autonomous drones.

Leading both the cyber and physical security teams comes at an interesting time for the company, and the industry itself. I’m excited to work with the team to develop the next generation of security protocols for autonomous drones and ensure Skydio continues to lead when it comes to cybersecurity.