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Startup profile: StrongKey aims to make passwords ancient history

Sep, 15 2017, 1:24 PM

StrongKey is a new venture being spun out of StrongAuth, its lead product being an encryption solution for all the data created and maintained by a business, small to large.

StrongKey recently opened an office at American Underground on Main and is preparing to ramp up hiring.

The emerging company will be talking encryption and moving past the history of passwords while presenting at the CED Tech Venture Conference on Sept. 19-20.

"For too long, individual professionals and small businesses have had inadequate tools to fight an increasingly volatile world full of cyberattacks," says CEO Jake Kiser.

"Their computers are now being used as launch-points for 'Denial of Service'” attacks (as in the BBC attack), to breach large enterprises (as in the case of Target's breach), or to target the theft of personal health information (growing at triple digit rates). We are focused on bringing enterprise-grade security to this poorly-served segment, at a price point and complexity accessible even to single-person offices."

This profile is the latest in a series of profiles about Tech Venture participants that are written, edited and published by WRAL TechWire in partnership with the CED.


Profile: StrongKey

​The Q&A:

To rely on passwords in today's Internet is to shout to the world – “I'm here to be hacked!” To not encrypt all sensitive data is to put your customers and your business at risk; to not preserve the integrity of your data is to leave you blind to more sophisticated attacks (where a forensic report, clinical research or a medical diagnosis is subtly modified and no one is the wiser – almost all systems, from even the largest computer companies in the world, are susceptible to this attack today).

For too long, individual professionals and small businesses have had inadequate tools to fight an increasingly volatile world full of cyberattacks. Their computers are now being used as launch-points for “Denial of Service” attacks (as in the BBC attack), to breach large enterprises (as in the case of Target's breach), or to target the theft of personal health information (growing at triple digit rates).

We are focused on bringing enterprise-grade security to this poorly-served segment, at a price point and complexity accessible even to single-person offices.

Small-to-medium sized businesses, and individual practitioners, are being increasingly targeted. At the current rate, it is more likely than not that an SMB will be hacked (55% of SMBs were attacked in 2016).

From Day 1, our product protects our customers' data and allows them to securely access and share it, without relying on 50-year old, vulnerable technology: passwords. Looking to the future, our product can be the foundation upon which new kinds of secure applications can be built.

SMBs have little control over their security today: the passwords they use to authenticate themselves on computers and websites are vulnerable to attack from anywhere in the world. The files they store in Clouds are compromised because they do not control the cryptographic keys that encrypt those files.

Unless you are an enterprise with the resources to protect your data with sophisticated hardware (typically used by the military and banks), as soon as a you sign up for a cloud-based service, you hand over control.

Our product designed from the ground-up to give SMBs control for the first time. It is deliberately physical, and brings with it the strength and security that only a physical product can offer. The core cryptography hardware embedded in the box, combined with the cryptography hardware in their hands or keychains, not only ensures that only our customers can encrypt and decrypt their data, but also guarantees that the encryption keys to decrypt that data always live within that box even if their encrypted files are in any cloud in the world.

With StrongKey, users retain exclusive control over their data. Our product also harnesses the power of a rising authentication protocol from the FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance, which removes the burden of passwords, and is already being implemented by Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and over 300 other organizations.

In brief, the massive potential to scale. To structure sequentially from launch to vision:

(1) Our product is unique in the niche we have targeted. Small businesses don't have solutions available to them that are affordable and appropriate, while still being secure.

(2) StrongKey has the potential to become a complete ecosystem. Our product contains foundational security capabilities currently employed only at the largest and most security-conscious environments; this foundation enables any application serving SMBs to be secure in ways that were previously impossible or unaffordable.

By providing this foundation, StrongKey can serve any number of industries through specific software. Imagine a StrongKey box loaded with all the relevant software that a tax accountant needs to run his practice, highly secure, while not relying on passwords.

Similar industry-specific boxes will be developed across diverse industries. Just as the iPhone created a new ecosystem of applications when Apple addressed complex hardware-related problems, we are building a platform that lets application developers focus on building better and more secure applications because our platform addresses the cryptographic hardware-complexity.

(3) As Internet of Things devices proliferate, our product will serve as an aggregator to authenticate users to their devices.

We are currently financed through a friends and family seed round of $250,000, and are in the process of raising a larger round of funding.






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