In 440 B.C., an exiled Greek citizen named Demaratus (who would later become the king of Sparta) secretly sent a warning to his homeland about an attack being planned by Xerxes, leader of the Persians. His message was carved into a wooden tablet and covered in wax. Today, this technique of covered or hidden writing is referred to as steganography, and it is the basis for GlobalCrypto, a new member company in Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).
GlobalCrypto has developed a patent-pending, innovative technology dubbed RealMe™ that embeds cryptographic information in digital images and exchanges pieces of those images between a user and a Web application. This makes online transactions more secure and prevents attempts to steal a user’s financial information and personal identity. Indeed, the market is ripe for such a solution: last year, U.S. banks spent $6 billion to combat fraud and still lost $3.1 billion.
“The idea for the company hatched over coffee one day when a friend told me about a project he was working on that protected bank logins, but had very weak security,” recalled Todd Merrill, CEO of GlobalCrypto. “We knew we could do better.”
The GlobalCrypto solution is user-friendly, low-cost and easy for Web applications to install and operate. Potential customers include e-commerce sites, financial institutions, credit card companies and other Web environments that exchange confidential information online and want to strengthen their anti-fraud protection and user authentication. GlobalCrypto expects to generate revenue through subscriptions, transactions or professional services.
To use the system, end users will activate the RealMe browser plug-in from business Web sites and will be able to validate their transactions by selecting an image from a toolbar visible in the browser. The image is used to protect them from online fraud and phishing without the need to remember multiple passwords.
“All encrypted information between a Web application and an end user must match before a transaction can proceed,” Merrill noted. “This multi-factor authentication is significantly more secure than typical ‘PIN and Password’ protected sites.”
GlobalCrypto first became involved with ATDC through CapVenture, a unique program that educates and equips executives of early-stage companies for smarter and more productive capitalization of their businesses. Since then, the company has generated considerable buzz: it placed second in a business launch competition hosted by the Georgia Research Alliance and the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and was also named one of TAG’s “Sweet 16” most innovative technology companies in Georgia.
In addition to Merrill, GlobalCrypto currently has three employees, including a chief marketing and sales officer, a chief architect and a vice president of engineering. By 2010, the company plans to have more than 40 employees and $12 million in revenue. Merrill expects ATDC will help GlobalCrypto achieve that ambitious goal.
“The ATDC is a fantastic environment for early stage companies. As an ATDC company, we have an incredible amount of resources at our fingertips that we would never have access to otherwise,” he said. “I would recommend the ATDC to any technology startup company.”
About the ATDC: The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) is a nationally recognized science and technology incubator that helps Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies. ATDC provides strategic business advice and connects its member companies to the people and resources they need to succeed. More than 110 companies have emerged from the ATDC.
Headquartered at the Georgia Institute of Technology, ATDC has been recognized by both Inc. and BusinessWeek magazines as among the nation’s top nonprofit incubators. ATDC was formed in 1980 to stimulate growth in Georgia’s technology business base, and now has locations in Atlanta and Savannah. ATDC is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. For more information, please visit (www.atdc.org).
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Writer: Nancy Fullbright