Vicksburg man takes high road from hacker to computer executive

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 20, 2000

Vicksburg native Luke Koestler, 20, the owner of Silent Knight computer company. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

From hacker to the head of a computer company is not a road untraveled, and it is the voyage taken by Luke Koestler of Vicksburg.

At 20, he’s the president of Silent Knight Inc., specialists in software security and, investors hope, well on the way to profitability.

Koestler said he has been interested in computers since he was 11 or 12 years old. But his interest has not always been just in playing games or surfing the Internet.

“I was kicked out of Warren Central (High School) in the 10th grade for hacking into the school computer,” he said.

After that, he decided school wasn’t for him, so he spent some time at Hinds Community College, getting his GED certificate. That was followed by a short stint in college.

Again, school was not for him, especially when he finally decided his future was in starting his own business.

Koestler, the son of Danny and Lynn Koestler of Vicksburg, started out doing freelance consulting and only later decided to develop his own products.

With his knowledge of how to get into a computer system, it was a natural for him to have some idea of what’s needed to keep people out.

The business “started out as security,” he said. “Security is my forte.”

As a result, he developed a program that can be added to a business system to make it more difficult for people to get into the system. That was followed by another program that helps users of Microsoft’s popular Windows operating system get the most out of it.

Koestler claimed his security system is one of the most secure produced.

“We offer a maximum of a 256-bit encryption system,” he said. “That means I can take a password and encrypt it so that it would take a Pentium 500 processor 96 years of computing time to crack.”

The program that helps out Windows has two functions, Koestler said. First, it helps keep the system from crashing. Second, it helps the system operate faster.

In addition to those products, Silent Knight also offers a group of programs for businesses that need accounting and billing systems.

“On those, we go into a business with an accountant and do a due diligence,” Koestler said.

Basically, Silent Knight looks at what the business has, what it needs to do and other aspects of an operation and then adapts a suite of office products to the company’s specific needs.

“That can take us up to a couple of months to do,” he said.

Developing the products has been the work of about three years, although Silent Knight has existed as a corporation for only 11 months.

Although Koestler is young, as is Joel Dimmette, vice president of corporate development, a lot of progress has been made.

“We have about 100 people associated with us,” Koestler said.

Others working with Silent Knight include Steve Coleman, another partner, and Bob Dearing of Natchez, the state senator for Adams, Franklin, Amite and Pike counties, who is in charge of marketing and sales.

Koestler said he does not intend for the company to be just another small, local business. He and his associates are already talking to some major distributors of computer hardware and software. There are also tentative plans in the works to eventually take the company public.

“I would be happy in two years to be a quarter the size of Microsoft,” Koestler said.