Founders: Hernan Matute and Diego Matute
What They Do: Cyphercor helps companies ranging from SMBs to large enterprises and government organizations to provide better multi-factor authentication for clients to access corporate resources and online services.
The worldwide information security market is worth more than $71 Billion annually and growing. Experts now say cyber security is a constant risk to all businesses. The sentence “It is no longer an issue that concerns only information technology and security professionals; the impact has extended to the boardroom” stands out in this recent report. New stories about “data breaches” or “identity theft” keep mounting. Regardless of these warnings, the consensus is that business and people are still bad at protecting themselves.
It’s a trend that Hernan Matute has been watching for the better part of a decade. He left a high level position with BCE to strike out on his own. The desire was to create a security solution that was both unique and cost effective. After launching two-factor authentication for mobile, his firm Cyphercor has recently launched the world’s first non-OTP two-factor authentication Chrome app. Matute sat down with Invest Ottawa to discuss the gaps in the information security market and his take on the Ottawa technology ecosystem.
How would you describe, in general terms, two factor authentication?
HM: In two-factor authentication you have two dimensions you need to solve—something you have and something you know. So like a phone or desktop and then their username/password. By addressing those two dimensions, you mitigate the risks of account takeover or disclosing your private information.
This isn’t a new service, what does Cyphercor do to stand out in this space?
HM: First is scale. Existing solutions do not scale easily. Say the government wants to give 300 thousand digital certificates to their employees and pensioners, the investment in deploying and administering those services is huge.
Second, we leverage new technologies which include: mobile devices, cloud computing and virtualization. So we give customers a much lower cost for adopting our solution.
And finally, the one which will really shift the industry is contextual information. No other vendor in the world tells end users what they are accessing during an online access attempt. Info of a phishing attack or a scam can be passed in real-time to the end user, so they can deny access.
Can you expand a little more on “contextual information”?
HM: The first thing you may see in a contextual message is perhaps a logo (say a bank or company logo). You will see a user name, the one tied to that asset. LoginTC also integrates into fraud detection systems. If you are in Ottawa trying to access your online banking and your LoginTC mobile or desktop notification shows that this request originated in Bulgaria, then you can take appropriate action. Currently this real-time information is not available to end users. That is the beauty of this contextual model Cyphercor provides.
When did you have the idea for this company?
HM: As you said, there were already two factor authentication solutions. But I realized there were some gaps in the market. In the 2000s hacking and cyber-crime started to grow, then the revolution of the smartphone. I knew there was a gap in security access and wanted to create something that works. But it had to be easy to use, easy to scale, easily administrated, secure and cost-effective. We managed to combine those characteristics in LoginTC.
One thing I find interesting about your career path is that you worked for a large legacy organization in Canada, with thousands of employees at the time-
-And you went from there to launching your own startup, talk a bit about that transition. What were some of the challenges you faced?
HM: I was a senior executive and would be sent to speak with multi-million dollar accounts. With the Bell label I could walk through any door. With Cyphercor, it’s not that easy. So even though people say, “Yes I remember you Hernan” I also get, “So…what do you do now?”. It has been a hard decision but on the other hand, the focus, the vision and the reaction of the customer has been so positive. I think we have something exciting here and a formula that will work.
How would you say the Ottawa ecosystem has helped you grow your organization?
HM: Invest Ottawa has been an amazing, amazing supporter but the investment community is brutal. Here the ecosystem for investment is not really geared for startups. Believe it or not our first customer was a European company. Ottawa needs a new breed of people in the investment community, in the same way the Silicon Valley investment community supports their own ecosystems.
Is there an opportunity to change this?
HM: In Ottawa, yes! Obama recently appointed the first CIO in the USA. We need something like that here. Someone at either the federal level or the local level, who champions what we are doing in the IT community. Remember, we are more than 50,000 people in the Ottawa IT community.One thing never to underestimate?
Internet and media campaigns, they have a lot of value. We’re in magazines, tomorrow we have another review and next week we will do another press release. We are pushing and pushing. The power of social media, blogs, and our own direct campaigns has worked very well in the industry. Recently a press release led to an invitation to be an official Blackberry enterprise partner.
Hernan Matute, CEO of Cyphercor
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