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27 Jul 2023

Dispatches from the CTO: Houston; We Have a Roadmap

Ben April

Hi, I’m Ben April. I’ve been the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Maltego for almost a year. It’s long past time for me to introduce myself. I hope you can forgive my tardiness; We’ve had lots of news and exciting developments keeping us busy:

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Who is this guy and why does he think he can make a difference at Maltego?

Who am I 🔗︎

I started in network engineering in the late 90’s. At a small local ISP, I got my hands into everything Support, billing, cabling, routing, sysadmin, essentially everything. I was fortunate to follow the path upstream, learning the ins and outs of operating bigger and bigger networks at every step along the way. After the dot com bubble popped, I found myself at Trend Micro with a focus on security, particularly looking at Internet infrastructure. It was during this period when I got my first opportunity to use Maltego. As a researcher, it changed my life. Before I knew it, I was building Transforms for every source of data I could find.

After Trend Micro, I moved to Farsight Security where I applied my expertise in Internet infrastructure to the passive DNS ecosystem as a data provider. It’s critical to keep the perspective of data providers in mind when thinking about the future of Maltego. Data is the fuel for the Maltego engine - Data comes from various sources, but it’s incredibly important that the quality, structure, and reliability of data meet customer expectations. My time as the CTO at Farsight ended when we were acquired by DomainTools in November of 2021, and I became the Chief Architect at DomainTools.

What A Difference A Year Makes 🔗︎

I have always loved Maltego and saw the opportunity to lead the Product & Tech team here as a chance to make a positive impact on the security of humanity. After multiple trips to Munich to get to know the Maltego team and trips elsewhere to get to know some of our users, I am even more convinced that the work we do makes a measurable difference and with focus and drive, we can have an even bigger impact.

After joining Maltego and studying the state of the Product & Tech organization, I set about making some initial changes while building the new product roadmap. First up, we had to refactor the release plan. There was a 5.0 version of the Maltego Desktop Client in development when I started. While this release came with several amazing new capabilities, it came with a steep cost. The new platform was backwards incompatible with the products that came before it. As exciting as 5.0 was, I took the decision to refactor the roadmap. The new plan is to deliver the new capabilities in a stream of carefully layered incremental releases that preserve backwards compatibility while getting the new capabilities into the hands of our users faster.

Capabilities, Quality, and Stability 🔗︎

Our aim is to balance new capabilities with quality and stability, which is the theme ingrained in our new product roadmap. To achieve that, we are building a release cadence that will deliver 3 minor version releases of the Maltego Desktop Client per year. Each release should include both new capabilities as well as stability and quality of life improvements directly incorporating feedback from our user community.

First Step: Desktop Client Version 4.4.1 🔗︎

You might have already noticed that you have been invited to update your Maltego Desktop Client to 4.4.1 (quickly following 4.4.0) in April 2023. This release includes significant updates to the look and feel of the user interface, several bug fixes, and improved pop-up messages related to Transform quotas.

Maltego Desktop Client Version 4.4.1

If you are a Mac user, you will be glad to know that you should now be able to double-click on a graph file to open it automatically (if not, try installing v4.4.1 again. Your settings will be preserved).

But Wait, There’s More 🔗︎

I am excited to show you more about the elements of our roadmap in the coming weeks. We’ve got UI improvements, protocol enhancements, updates to the Entity model, and even entirely new interfaces coming.

There are a few additional ways to learn more about our plans. If you are an Enterprise customer, reach out to your Customer Success Manager. If you are a data partner, reach out to your Partnership Manager in our Data Hub team.

You can catch myself and our team at upcoming events such as Black Hat USA. You can also follow Maltego on Twitter, LinkedIn, Mastodon, or sign up to our email newsletter.

Be careful out there!

About the Author 🔗︎

Ben April

Ben April

Ben April is the Chief Technology Officer at Maltego Technologies GmbH. Prior to Maltego, Ben was the CTO of Farsight Security, Inc. (acquired by DomainTools LLC). In his time at Farsight Security, Ben and his team drove advances in the fields of real-time privacy centric Internet telemetry and Passive DNS technology. Ben is on a lifelong crusade to eliminate the technical and policy barriers that impede robust data-sharing among white-hat security researchers. Ben is also a volunteer sysadmin and coder for some trusted-community security projects.

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