WISeKey – the wisest decision you’ll ever make
Today, everything and everybody is online. There simply isn’t anything you cannot find on the Web – or if there is, I’m not aware of what it is. The “Web revolution” has changed the world and our lives. There are millions – if not billions – of people who are constantly “connected”, because that is the way they live their lives nowadays. For businesses, it could be said that, “If you ain’t on the Web, you don’t exist” (and excuse the use of the informal, but that is exactly the way it is).
All of this, of course, has its good and bad sides. As with most things, everything has its price. And in the case of the Internet and the enormity of the life-changing opportunities, information and inexhaustible possibilities the Web has given birth to, that price is the potential for insecurity, loss of confidentiality and possible usurping of your identity and even, in some cases, your hard-earned money.
I cite a short personal experience to illustrate how easily things can go wrong. I once booked a hotel room on the hotel’s website (I won’t mention the country but it was not Switzerland!). I immediately received an e-mail from the hotel confirming my reservation. The next day, I received two different e-mails that said, “Thank you for your reservation. Your credit card has been charged.” (from “address unknown”, so you could not reply). I thought, “Oh, oh, somebody’s got my credit card details and is going to ring up untold amounts on my card.” I went back to the hotel’s reservation website and discovered that it was not an “https” site; in my haste in making the reservation, I had failed to check this and I had consequently input my card details on an unsecured site! Over the next few days I continually checked my card account online (secured site) to see if any unauthorized charges had been made. None were – and I thought, “OK, some young hacker is only playing a game and I’m alright.” Then, about a month later, a charge appeared for approximately $35 that I had not made and the indicated charge details were only an 0800 telephone number in the US. I phoned and was informed that the company I was calling was only a payment service provider for online purchases and they were unable to tell me who made the charge (they also refused to give me their own company name or location). They did say, however, that they would cancel the charge and refund it to me (which they subsequently did). Suspicions aroused, I immediately cancelled the card; Googled the 0800 telephone number and discovered that literally thousands of persons had likewise been charged the same amount over the last few years. I tracked the company down, phoned the local sheriff’s office where they were located and informed them that a company in their jurisdiction (I now had their name, address, managing director’s name, etc) was fraudulently charging other people’s credit cards. (What happened to the company after that, I don’t know because I was no longer concerned about the matter – I had a new card, my original hotel reservation was OK and, most importantly, I had learned a lesson about using my card on the Web, fortunately with no great cost to me.)
Imagine, however, if the same scenario had happened to a company transmitting important – and highly confidential – financial details, bank details, valuable information or anything else of a highly sensitive nature, the unauthorized disclosure of which could seriously damage the company, if not totally destroy it. I can assure you such things have happened, and probably do happen, every single day somewhere in the world. There is an answer to the problem and taking up the choice could be the wisest decision you’ll ever make.
Achieving trust in the digital world
WISeKey, based in Geneva with operations in the US, France, Spain, the Middle East and India, combined with experience in delivering solutions anywhere in the world, is the leading global information security and identity management company providing specialized security technologies for data protection and effective secure authentication of people and objects to companies, governments, organizations, the military and individuals all over the world, to cite just a few. In the 11 years since its founding in 1999, it has remained committed to – and is successfully fulfilling – its original mission statement: “To facilitate and enable the mass use of secure digital identities in everyday life around the world”.
The company’s objective is to promote trusted computing with digital identities as the foundation for end-to-end security through its technologies that enable reliable and non-refutable identification of people and a multitude of objects (such as organizations, applications and devices) over public and private networks and the Internet. WISeKey solutions are primarily based on encryption and public key infrastructure (PKI) technologies designed with trusted computing principles, utilizing complementary products and components that enhance security and confidentiality, such as biometrics, USB tokens, smartcards and RFID chips.
Among the company’s solutions which have contributed to making WISeKey a world leader in its field are:
WISeAuthentic – An electronic certification system for products’ authenticity, origin, eco-friendliness, sustainability and ethical class: it particularly helps companies to build loyalty and trust with customers who buy their luxury or mass-market goods.
Dematerialization – Store your data with WISeKey and you will never have to worry about storage and security again.
WISeEvent – Digitally encrypted badges and ID cards that are impossible to duplicate make your events safer and feel more exclusive than ever.
Citizens’ ID – Duplication-proof ID cards and codes to allow access to government services online such as voting, tax-paying, etc.
The Digital Fan Club – A biometric or digitally encrypted USB key that serves as a passport to exclusive offerings and communities on your website for your most loyal fans, clients and partners.
The next generation: The gravity centre is shifting
However, with all that already under its belt in the few short years since its beginning, WISeKey is not by any means standing still. It well recognizes that in today’s fast-moving digital world, it’s strategy must stay not only attuned to what’s happening but also, and more significantly, it must follow a course that is one step ahead of what the future is bringing.
And that future at the moment – and all you need do is look around when you’re walking down the street for proof of this – is that everyone has gone mobile. Mobility is what’s happening and there is little doubt that this will only increase as time – and devices – move on.
In the words of Carlos Moreira, WISeKey’s founder, current chairman and CEO, “The gravity centre of the Internet is shifting from search to social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, becoming predominant, coupled with the fact that everybody’s accessing everything from mobiles.”
And this, of course, is where the problem lies. With numerous passwords and various card details to manage, users are at risk in exposing themselves to fraud, spam, unauthorized access, etc. It’s all well and good that the access software knows you’re checking into a certain hotel and then provides you the address of a good restaurant nearby, but do you really want that service provider to know everything else about you?
As a provider for the past 11 years of high-quality IDs for businesses (making it the largest ID provider in the world), WISeKey has the solution – convert those various IDs and details to one virtual digital ID, thereby enabling you to do a multitude of things with it without compromising your identity, security, confidentiality and anonymity. WISeID encrypts all card details to your mobile so that you no longer need that card to, say, pay a restaurant bill and thereby expose its details to all and sundry – the restaurant merely scans the details from your mobile.
With currently some 4.5 billion people with mobile telephones in the world, WISeKey has set its target at 1 billion users for its WISeID solution through an active programme aimed at those countries with the largest populations, namely the US, Russia, India and Brazil. Moreira’s strategy is “Let the user do it”, meaning that users, who already have, say, an ID for their phone, can simply download the WISeID software from WISeKey’s cloud without resorting to the Telcos, which, because they have the bandwidth, can tell manufacturers what to do. The system, currently available for Apple, will soon be available for the Windows 7 platform and Blackberry.
Such focus on the large-population countries is in-line with WISeKey’s global expansion strategy and, more to the point, the WISeID system gets around the problem of different encryption systems of countries by decentralizing – rather than employing a centralized – encryption system, enabling every country to continue to apply their own national rules on encryption, with WISeKey only handling the ID label. “It’s like the two keys needed to open your bank vault – the bank has one key and you have the other,” Moreira says.
The road ahead
According to Moreira, the WISeID will become the “core” of the company around which the various satellites, such as the counterfeiting technology and other WISeKey solutions, will revolve, given the fact that with the numbers, the market for virtual IDs is, in fact, limitless. And, unlike Google and others akin to it that are advertising-revenue based, the WISeID operates like a Visa card – WISeKey receives a small percentage of the charge made with it.
In addition, with the WISeID applet’s flexibility to add on top all your other cards, for example, frequent flyer programme, hotel privilege cards, bank accounts, etc, the WISeID digital card gets aggregated – it grows, becomes bigger and better because it knows more about you. What’s more, security is safeguarded – the master password is encrypted and backed up on the WISeKey cloud so that users can simply download it again if needed. “The beauty of the system,” says Moreira, “is that it grows with the more things it knows about you – the possibilities are endless.”
Recently cited by a major Swiss daily as one of four or five hot coming IPOs that are eagerly awaited in the tech sector (which Moreira believes will take off within the next year), WISeKey is in the “IPO mode” – “We’re on the roadshow, raising capital, restructuring the board, organizing the joint ventures, operating already as if the IPO will happen tomorrow – that’s the message,” Carlos Moreira concludes with a smile as he looks forward to the upcoming Meeting of New Champions in Tianjin.
Article by Richard Casna