Emre Koskal, CEO of DatAnchor, discusses how DatAnchor keeps data safe and how cybersecurity will globally affect businesses now and in the future. VGV just recently invested in DatAnchor this first quarter of 2019.
Tell me a bit about your background?
I got my undergrad degree in Turkey. I came to the U.S to do my Masters; I went to MIT and worked in the labs there during my studies. I was working on Information Systems during my masters and PhD; my main focus was communications and networking. I always wanted to build a company myself, but by the time I was graduating, not only were there no startups going out, resource labs and companies were starting to close as well. This was a bad time to build a startup. I spent one more year at MIT post-graduation doing research, and then I started as a full-time professor at OSU. My main area of expertise is security protocol, then at that time I moved on towards implementation. I started building networks and got very interested in cybersecurity, and I have built systems for V2X [vehicle to everything] communications. I was working on ideas how to secure that technology, and some of my work from that was published. Then I worked on building a couple of other systems. I started to talk to VCs and people in both security and academia. After those conversations, it then became clear that data security had a significantly larger market than what I was working on. I took that idea of data security and applied that to what I was doing and it became DatAnchor.
I spoke a lot with VCs such as the Ohio Innovation Fund. I started building a management team from the accelerator awards I received from the state of Ohio. With those funds, I set up the company, and we are working on pilots right now. We are acquiring an exclusive list of data testing, which we will expand in the near future.
Tell me more about the technology of DatAnchor and what it does?
We are a data security technology. The problem in data security is that currently many businesses deal with data, and many enterprises are working with very sensitive data. In many cases this data can be in the form of PII (Personally Identifiable Information), or customer or employee data. There are many pieces of data that need to be kept inside the company. Companies are required to keep this data private and secure. We make sure that within these companies, the right people are matched with and have access to the right data. What happens with authentication is, we make sure that the individuals with access to sensitive information are supposed to have access. With that authorization, we ensure that employees know how to handle that information.
So DatAnchor is a solution. We ask businesses who consume data about the data’s physical constraints (such as being connected only to the company’s wireless), we put together all these facets and encrypt the data to suit this. Succinctly we 1) provide the encryption for the data, and 2) provide the encryption key for the access, and 3) enable a dynamic and automatic geolocation. So if you try to take that data out of those boundaries, we make sure that you cannot access that company’s data outside those boundaries.
In addition, we solve the termination problem of past employees; we make sure that past employees cannot have data access or hijack it, and provide a way of tracking who is accessing your data. You can track where your data is being accessed, by who, and by which user, and for how long. This helps businesses keep in line with their legal compliance as well. We push the same level of security all the way to the end users’ devices on which the data is being accessed.
The area covered is very wide, yet there is a growing need at the enterprise level and for small businesses as well. They need good security products. The companies that exist now for security aren’t even coming close to following or tracking everything. There’s a need for more organization, better organization, along with skilled technology that can identify problems within the security network in a mathematically rigorous way, and can quickly solve those problems and find solutions.
Companies are using our beta product currently– we have a software that has covered all of the security loopholes very rigorously. Typically, in security you have to certify the product on both ends for security. For example, if you have a savings account at Bank of America, you have to certify that when you log into your account on the app, that you are communicating with the Bank of America server. So in that case it’s necessary to protect the server side, but also the client side as well. We make sure that it’s almost impossible to breach this.
Where do you see cyber security going in the future?
It is critical to be able to pinpoint a security problem, as there is no one specific security problem that can just be solved: that is the most difficult part. So, currently the problem of security breaches were really affecting mostly the end user, because if someone hacks an account or server they can access all of your personal information. We have breaches that are affecting a huge number of customers or people, hundreds of millions, which have significant compliance issues. I found an interesting statistic recently that states 60 percent of small businesses cannot survive a data breach. So, that’s pretty significant. Even large enterprises cannot sometimes survive that. Also, we are integrating connectivity with mobile systems, which leads to the discussion about security of connected devices. Today security issues could affect the system globally. We are heading to a place where cybersecurity will have a global consequence. So now, we’ll probably get to a state where security will no longer be a feature, but it will be necessary, before you can even carry out your main functions.