Why Enveil founder Ellison Anne Williams believes she’s found the “holy grail of cryptography”

From: RegTech Analyst

Spun out of the NSA, RegTech100 company Enveil is bringing a whole new level of cybersecurity to the financial services space.

Ellison Anne Williams (pictured), founder of Enveil, the cybersecurity startup, has described practical homomorphic encryption as the “holy grail of cryptography”.

She’s not wrong. People have been trying to solve it for four decades as it would provide people with the ability to enjoy continuous security, even whilst working on a file.

“If encryption is a vault protecting your sensitive data, traditional practice requires taking the data out of the vault every time it needs to be used or processed – when users perform a search or apply analytics,” Williams tells RegTech Analyst.

But taking the data out of the vault means it is being exposed to the risk of attacks and liability.

“Homomorphic encryption allows these critical actions to take place within the vault, eliminating the need for data exposure at any point,” she continues. “It allows organizations to securely search, cross-match and derive insights from third-party data sources without ever revealing the contents of the search or analytic or compromising the security or ownership of the underlying data.”

However, as important as being able to secure data while it’s being used or processed, making it a reality is far from easy. “The challenge all comes back to usability,” Williams explains. “No matter how great a technology is, if it can’t work within an existing workflow in a business-relevant timeframe, it is very unlikely to be used.”

Williams eventually succeeded whilst working for the National Security Agency (NSA). She subsequently launched Enveil in 2016 by signing up to a technology transfer programme created at NSA to help spin out projects like hers.

DataTribe, the venture capital seed investor that specializes in helping teams bringing technology out of the government and commercializing them, also signed up as a backer at this stage.

As a side note, DataTribe participated in cybersecurity company Code Dx’s $2m funding round in December, 2019.

Williams and her team spent the next few months working on a minimum viable product that impressed In-Q-Tel, USAA, Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg Beta so much that they all decided to participate in Enveil’s $4m strategic round in 2017 was born.

Enveil has used its money to go through an accreditation and certification process to make it the the only Data in Use security company with NIAP Common Criteria-certified products, according to Williams.

Enveil’s ZeroReveal product is an API-based solution created to work alongside companies’ existing systems, enabling clients to interact with their data the same way that they did before, only at a higher security level.

Williams is confident that this is only the beginning. “There is great amount momentum in the market right around secure data collaboration use cases, especially in the RegTech and FinTech communities,” she concludes.

The company is currently working finalizing its Series A funding  as well as new product lines in the months ahead.

You can read more about Enveil and the other RegTech100 2020 companies by downloading our summary here.

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