Sepior Raises Seed Round For Protecting Cloud Data Against Hacking
Funding allows company to ramp up its operations in the face of growing cyber threats
Aarhus, Denmark (September 24, 2013)
Security vendor Sepior has raised a seed funding round led by SEED Capital, Denmark’s biggest venture capital fund. The investment will enable Sepior to further develop its technologies and products for protecting data in the cloud. Sepior’s offerings use the advanced cryptography approach known as secure multi-party computation, which is ideal for protecting data in cloud storage services such as Amazon S3, DropBox and Google Drive. For companies and IT managers concerned with security vulnerabilities posed by web-based storage, Sepior provides an effective solution that enables employees to use the popular services with full protection from data breaches.
As a growing number of central IT systems are run by cloud suppliers, businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about the risk of unauthorized access to data in the cloud. These concerns have become even more urgent with the disclosure of the U.S. government’s NSA monitoring of the Internet, which gives authorities almost unobstructed access to data from many of the most popular cloud suppliers. Many companies have therefore tried to limit their employees’ use of popular cloud storage services. In practice, however, preventing employees from using cloud storage service is very difficult to enforce: surveys show that employees commonly use cloud services behind the back of IT managers.
“Despite the fact that cloud suppliers devote a lot of resources to IT security, many experience attacks where hackers get access to potentially sensitive corporate data,” said Nicolaj H. Nielsen, co-founder of Sepior. “Therefore, an increasing number of companies are realizing that they need encryption to protect cloud data. In fact, IT managers globally have come to understand that sending confidential corporate data unprotected to various cloud suppliers is completely unacceptable. In the years ahead, encryption of cloud data will be a standard procedure for any company concerned with sensitive information.”
“A number of companies have tried to solve the problem using encryption technology to encrypt data before they reach the cloud supplier, yet the existing solutions for encryption of data in the cloud are just not good enough”, says Jakob Pagter, CTO at Sepior and manager of the Security Lab at Alexandra Instituttet. “These encryption products either require implementation of hardware and/or software locally, which is too expensive and inflexible for most companies, or they are based on transfer of data to a trusted third party in the cloud who then encrypts the data before they are sent to other cloud suppliers. But these approaches only move the security problem from one cloud supplier to the other. A more effective approach is needed, and Sepior is providing that solution.”
Sepior’s solution is based on a type of encryption known as secure multi-party computation (MPC). In brief, this technique allows calculation on encrypted data. Sepior has succeeded in solving the paramount problem of using MPC to protect cloud data: speed. Sepior’s technology increases computational speed to the extent that the practical application of MPC in connection with cloud security is possible. ”No one wants to wait 10 seconds for a file to appear onscreen. With Sepior’s solution we can decrypt files so quickly that the user will not perceive that the decryption process has even taken place. We are the first in the world to have accomplished this,” said Nicolaj H. Nielsen.
Contrary to existing solutions, the MPC solution from Sepior is 100 percent cloud-based, eliminating the need for local installation of hardware or software. Sepior is in the process of finishing development of its first product, which will be launched commercially early in 2014. The company has also initiated negotiations on license agreements with cloud suppliers who want to implement Sepior’s MPC technology in their products.
The technical team at Sepior consists of a number of internationally recognized encryption experts, including Ivan Damgård. Damgård is one of most quoted cryptography researchers in the world and is the co-founder of the IT-security company Cryptomathic. Jakob Pagter is the CTO at Sepior. Pagter holds a PhD in computer science and has many years of experience in the development of encryption software through his position as manager of the Security Lab at Alexandra Instituttet. He is also the co-founder of Partisia, the first company in the world to commercialize MPC.
Nicolaj H. Nielsen is the co-founder of Sepior. Nielsen is a serial entrepreneur and also co-founder of the Danish IT security company CodeSealer, which developed a solution to protect online banks and payment processors against hacking. CodeSealer has recently received venture capital from VF Venture, and a number of Nordic banks are included in its customer base.
In addition, the founders include Alexandra Instituttet A/S, which has major experience in applied cryptography, MPC and modern cloud- and smartphone-based solutions. The lead investors are SEED Capital (largest early stage venture fund in Denmark) and DTU Symbion Innovation (government-funded innovation incubator) which together have invested an undisclosed sum in the company.
Founded in 2014 as a spinout from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, Sepior develops key management solutions for encrypting data on the public cloud. Using patented cryptographic protocols, Sepior’s RSA award-winning team of cryptography experts have developed a practical virtual Key Management Service (KMS) using secure multi-party computation (MPC), a technique for splitting cryptographic keys between different providers that results in distributed trust. As the industry’s first true cloud-native KMS based on MPC, Sepior gives businesses full control over the encryption keys used by their SaaS-providers without relying on any single SaaS-provider, and at SaaS economics.
The company is partially funded by a grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Technology program.