At 28, Nathan Maurer is the youngest head of IT Security in Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings’ history, and he’s already had the job three years. The global airfreight company, which is headquartered in Purchase, has approximately 2,000 employees in 55 locations, each of which has its own computer network, which Maurer says he has to keep safe “from hackers and espionage and things like that.”
On a day-to-day basis Maurer, who lives in the Bronx, looks for signs of trouble, which might include an unusual amount of traffic in one network or employees sending out sensitive information to foreign countries. And in the longer term, he is always working on implementing the latest technologies to protect the computers.
“It’s kind of a neverending arms race, ‘the good guys versus the bad guys,’” he says. “[The ‘bad guys’] will come up with new techniques for breaking into systems. It’s our job to stay ahead of them by introducing counter-measures and technologies to prevent that kind of thing.”
Maurer knows his job is important. Because it operates for various airlines, Atlas Air’s computer systems contain flight plans and other sensitive information that should not get into the wrong hands. But he is well prepared for his task. He received his Bachelor of Science in IT from Rochester Institute of Technology, where he majored in Networking and System Administration, and worked at pharmaceutical company Merck & Co, Inc., in its Security and Response team before joining Atlas almost five years ago as a member of IT Security (he was promoted to senior manager in 2010).
Maurer even recently worked alongside the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) create new IT security guidelines for a new aircraft, the Dash 8, the first airplane to have an on-board computer network. “They didn’t really have guidance yet, so we ended up working collaboratively with the FAA to determine what sort of protections should be in place,” he says. “This was the first time they ventured into securing the aircraft from a computer standpoint.”
Maurer’s manager, Richard Ross, the company’s VP of IT, says Mauer has “put together an impressive track record of experience and successfully mastered a complex and ever-changing field, emerging as a leader amongst his industry peers as well as within Atlas Air.”