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Alexandra Cravotta - 2/06/2016 the Inria start-up that is simplifying cryptography

The goal of, the brand new startup from Inria Nancy – Grand Est, is to make the implementation of corporate data encryption simpler and more accessible.

The project was born of necessity. “As the Information Systems Security Manager (ISSM) at Inria, I sought to expand the encoding of hard disks. I had to manage a multitude of different data encryption keys and passwords. I was looking for an existing solution that could ensure secure data storage but there wasn’t one, so I decided to develop my own tool,” explains Bertrand Wallrich. If someone who has encoded their disk forgets the password used to unlock it, the data will be irretrievable. “Most users try to memorise their password, but some write it down on a Post-it that they tuck away in a drawer or under their computer keyboard, which is not very secure. Also, the ISSM must be able to obtain the key to access encrypted data if he is required to do so.” Effectively, the ISSM has to be able to retrieve such data if the police ask him to or if a colleague goes absent.

A solution with high potential

The aim was to be able to develop a totally secure online safe that could cope with cases where a colleague might mislay his encryption key or password or might not be able to get into their system for any reason. “The ISSM can centralise the keys, but then he or she becomes the target of potential cyber attacks”, explains Bertrand Wallrich, who decided to design a solution that would enable a quorum of people to share the decision to recover secret data stored in this virtual safe, known as LEMS.

The project quickly caught the eye of Arnaud Laprévote: as a member of the Technology Transfer, Innovation and Partnerships team (STIP) at Inria Nancy - Grand Est since May 2014, his job was to assess the potential of the different projects and software packages developed by colleagues at the centre, with a special focus on cyber security. The two men together chose to take up the challenge of becoming entrepreneurs and founded as a startup with the aim of promoting the LEMS system, revised and debugged by research scientists from the centre. Today, they are focusing their attention on the sales structure of their company: “We have met withla Banque Postaleseveral times. They are interested in our work and we are looking at support from other partners.”

Cyber security: a surging market

The aim of is to supply its customers with simple turnkey solutions to protect their data.

“The value of corporations is increasingly bound up with their digital data.

These digital assets must be protected against cyber attacks”, explains Arnaud Laprévote. The use of digital encryption is the only viable solution to protect confidential or sensitive data. However, even though the use of point-to-point encryption is relatively simple and is no longer a technical challenge today, its deployment within organisations runs up against issues of moving to scale and coverage. These problems still cause businesses to hesitate when it comes to extending the routine use of encryption.

 “We need to tailor our offer to meet the needs expressed by businesses and corporations, while trying to increase their awareness of this critical challenge”, adds Arnaud Laprévote. They are currently working with IT Translation, an investment fund in which Inria holds 1/3 of the shares. The purpose of the acceleration phase is to find the right bridgehead, the right market to address. The phase is set to last several months yet.

Find out more on the site.

Keywords: Start-up Cryptography Computer security Collaborative Technology transfert