How Ashar Aziz identified the malware problem and created FireEye as the solution

Ashar Aziz, founder, FireEye, Inc.

Ashar Aziz, founder, FireEye, Inc.

NCA Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Technology Infrastructure

Award recipient


Ashar Aziz


FireEye, Inc.


Ashar Aziz, founder of FireEye, Inc., started the company in 2004 when he went looking to identify the next big problem in technology. He read through more than 1,000 research papers and studies regarding the evolution of malware because it was clear that theft of information was going to be prevalent in the future.

Aziz believes malware will become the primary tool for crime, espionage and technological warfare. A small, rogue band could bring down entire governments by obtaining control of banks, power grids, emergency services and other necessary institutions.

Once he’d defined the problem, Aziz spent more than a year working from his home, living on his savings, trying to build the core set of technologies that has become the groundbreaking FireEye Malware Protection System. His work has led to the filing of more than 18 patents.

Aziz recognizes that engineers rarely make good CEOs, so he has put together a management team with the top talent in the IT security business. Aziz himself fills the roles of vice chairman of the board, CTO and chief strategy officer.

But Aziz’s story as an entrepreneur begins as a young boy in Pakistan. He was determined to study at MIT, which led him to a school in Turkey to finally transfer to MIT. From the beginning, he has pursued groundbreaking opportunities regardless of the obstacles.

Until about 2009, the market had serious doubts about the viability of FireEye. The technology was being developed, and few businesses recognized the cyber threat. But after moving from an enterprise to government contract focus, the quality became apparent.

FireEye’s system now protects more than 1,000 organizations, including almost 30 percent of Fortune 100 companies and more than 60 critical federal agencies.

However, the company is always striving to improve — its protection needs to be twice as good as the offensive capabilities of hackers and thieves.

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