The CEO of a controversial cybersecurity outfit has been put on leave following an FBI raid of its headquarters.
Federal agents raided Tiversa's Pittsburgh office earlier this month looking for evidence in a long-running investigation of its business practices.
Soon after the raid, CEO Robert Boback was placed on leave and the company dropped a defamation lawsuit against two people who have publicly claimed the company was operating an extortion racket.
Boback and his corporate tactics have been under investigation by a Senate subcommittee for two years following claims that the firm was threatening to report companies to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if they did not subscribe to its services (which came with a $475-an-hour price tag).
Things came to a head when former employee Richard Wallace gave testimony in May 2015 in which he claimed Boback instructed him to falsify records that appeared to show confidential information from cancer testing laboratory LabMD was accessible on publicly available networks. Wallace was given immunity from prosecution before giving his testimony.
The falsified records were shown to LabMD by Tiversa, which offered its services to deal with the problem. When the company turned down the offer, LabMD founder Michael Daugherty claimed Boback threatened to report it to the FTC. Soon after Daugherty refused a second time, the company found itself the focus of a formal investigation by the FTC.
Those events have resulted in numerous lawsuits between LabMD and Tiversa, as well as LabMD and the FTC. Daugherty claims the FTC's unwarranted investigation into his company caused its collapse.
The Congressional report [PDF] into Tiversa was damning. Titled Tiversa: White knight or hi-tech protection racket?, it dug into the claims and concluded that the company had "provided intentionally false information to the United States government on more than one occasion" and that Boback had "provided false testimony about fabricated documents to the U.S. House of Representatives."
Most eye-catching in the allegations was the fact that Tiversa's widely reported claim to have found the blueprints of the President's Marine One helicopter on an Iranian computer had no evidence to back it up.
It wasn't just LabMD either – the Congressional committee also heard from a number of other companies who reported similar behavior. The executive director of the Open Door Clinic, David Roesler, stated that his company had also been contacted by Tiversa and informed that its confidential information had been found on public sharing networks, along with an offer for Tiversa's services.
Roesler testified that it was twice contacted by Tiversa, but turned it down after internal investigations of its network revealed no peer-to-peer sharing software. The Open Door Clinic was also formally investigated by the FTC and found itself at the end of a class action lawsuit.
Boback has repeatedly denied the many allegations laid against him, even writing a letter to The Wall Street Journal in December in which he argued that "Tiversa acted legally and appropriately in all its dealings."
Boback also noted that the company had decided to sue LabMD and Richard Wallace for defamation – the same defamation lawsuit that the company dropped followed this month's FBI raid.
We contacted Tiversa to ask about the FBI raid, Boback's current employment status and reports that a number of staff have quit their jobs. The company responded with a short statement:
"Tiversa is fully cooperating with the ongoing government investigation. There has been no interruption in Tiversa's services to its clients and business operations continue as normal." ®