Virtually present - SwissStyle Article on WISekey


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Virtually present - SwissStyle Article on WISekey

  1. 1. Business Style> Marton RadkaiVirtually presentThe Internet does bear some resemblance to the much ballyhooed American Wild West,with its somewhat anarchic disposition.Fortunes are made and lost online, and robbersand con-men lurk. But like the Wild West, the Internet, too, is gradually aging, the wildoats are growing into nicely tended fields, and some semblance of order is appearing. Oneof the policemen on the block is Carlos Moreira. And Swiss Style caught him between trips.I t’s midnight. Do you know where crypting data is the kind of stuff you “People wondered why you needed that your data are? Seriously? It may have to do each day, it’s like brushing level of security and segregation,” he re- sound flippant, but as things are your teeth.” calls. Today, of course, online security isevolving in the world of information becoming essential. In spite of its appar-technology, there will come a time in a Safety first ent shapelessness, the Internet is any-not-too distant future, when this little Moreira, who moved from work in thing but some ephemeral space. It con-needling thought could cause a few academe to consulting and security sists of real hardware stashed in a widesleepless nights and long headaches for various international organisa- variety of locations that is vulnerable toin the business community. For Carlos tions including the ILO and EFTA, attack. And what happens on the webMoreira, CEO of Wisekey and peripa- can have very real consequences in thetetic promoter of online security, the real world, like businesses collapsing. “I “Segregating and encryptingquestion is crucial to the evolution used to say the Internet was in the con- data is the kind of stuffof the digital world. Especially con- tact phase, that is, people made contact, you have to do each day, it’ssidering the drumfire of news about through Facebook, LinkedIn, and otherbanks “losing” data to tax authori- like brushing your teeth.” social media,” says Moreira. ”Now weties, CDs bearing names and account are in the contract phase, where peopleinformation of heavy-duty German bundled his knowledge and experi- are able to do major contracts throughtax finaglers winding up with the ence and founded Wisekey in 1999. ID the Internet, and the ‘R’ that turns con-Finanzamt, or companies and agen- management and security, the com- tact into contract stands for ‘regula-cies getting penetrated in cyber at- pany service as it were, were some- tions’, because using the Internet as atacks. “We are not talking about thing of a niche area in the post dot. contractual tool, people will demandsome hacker in China trying to shut bomb era, and so the business grew by regulations to guarantee secure trans-down the electrical system in New leaps and bounds. The key in Wisekey acting online.”York,” says Moreira. Cloak-and-dag- is an X.509 standards-based certifi- The WEF, which likes to draw in-ger type warfare has been going on cate containing information shared ternational attention to certain topics,since World War Two and the famous publicly and used as a form of digital made cyber-security a major issue. NotENIGMA encrypter, he points out. identification. It can help protect an in- surprisingly, Carlos Moreira was up in What happened in Switzerland dividual’s PII (Personal Identifiable In- Davos earlier this year – not his first vis-with the private banks was low-tech formation). The user is also equipped it to the hallowed grounds – expound-stuff, individuals getting a hold of the with a private key to be kept confiden- ing on the subject with other interestedright identity and entering the bank’s tial. This one is used to encrypt and de- parties, including none other than Billdatabase. “Some banks are still using crypt sensitive communications. This Gates. His company was even given thedBase [one of the oldest database manage- system is a powerful tool in maintain- WEF blessing as one of the world’s “hot-ment systems, the Editor] and systems ing privacy online, and when extend- test” 25 enterprises. The WEF accoladefrom the 1990s, with the client name ed to be used for the identification of is important, Moreira feels, because im-and address in one file,” says the long- objects and data, it goes a long way to portant people are beginning to take atime specialist in electronic and infor- making the Internet a more trusted en- serious look at the problem he is tryingmation security. “Segregating and en- vironment. to correct 24/7. “It’s a boardroom con-28 – Swiss style
  2. 2. Carlos Moreira, the key to Cloud securitycern,” he says. “A few years ago, cyber- ers are encrypted as well, as are email plications available ubiquitously, is an-security was the domain of engineers, programmes and other systems used in other one of those somewhat odd meta-experts in the company, but now it’s daily work. As such, the country has be- phors to rename the Internet.the board that is interested, because come something of a hub of innovation For Carlos Moreira, the Cloud – orthe company valuation could be annihi- in the world of secure Internet, though cloud computing – is the future, andlated in a single day given a successful it has learned the hard way. it is upon us, with all its bells, whistlesattack.” Indeed, about USD 1 trillion are and warts. Essentially it means thatlost each year to cyber criminals. “The new generation is any device features a far simpler ar- Part of the problem has been a the C-gen, you could chitecture for the average user, at anyperceptional error. In Switzerland, for say, connect, click, rate: “The new generation is the C-gen,example, the “fortress mentality”, as communicate.” you could say, connect, click, commu-Moreira calls it, held sway until fairly nicate,” he suggests. “They are in frontrecently. “The bad guys were out there, of their computers and don’t want toand all one had to do was load up on Seventh heaven worry about hard disks, or where theirsoftware, hardware, firewalls, biom- As for the Internet itself, it remains an data is, or how to transfer the stuff frometric systems,” says Moreira. The prob- unregulated environment with power- an iPod to a laptop, to a television.” Oflem, he tried to tell many banks, was ful advocates for maintaining the open- course, the Cloud is more than just athat the enemy was actually inside the ness – with all its copyright issues and way to have lots of digital fun or checkbank, with a USB stick or a cell phone web pages crowded with advertising. out what some virtual friend has eatencamera, simple technologies to collect And the next great transformation is al- for breakfast at the Kuala Lumpur Star-information and bring it beyond the ready in the making, announced almost bucks. It offers genuine business oppor-massive defensive walls. Nowadays, discreetly for some years now through tunities as a centralised system wherehowever, banks seem to be adopting the convergence of telephony and com- people can buy space, set up services,more effective measures. They main- puting and by the proliferation of iPads, provide their subscribers or users withtain greater control over staff members, iPods, and other lightweight, highly a secure and unique ID. “You don’t havegive them digital IDs that permit bet- mobile technologies. “The Cloud”, used to worry about data services, maintain-ter tracking and restrictions. Comput- by Apple to make services and other ap- ing servers, and so on,” says Moreira. »»» issue n° 225 – 29
  3. 3. Business StyleVirtually present by Marton RadkaiWhatever the interface, it will no longer data stored in the Cloud has to be en- are, after all, vulnerable to local laws,need all the heavy programmes that crypted, so an account manager travel- of course, and even encrypted data canslow down computing or have to be up- ling and needing, say, to read and sign a be seized by warrant or by force. On thedated every week. In fact, the computer contract, will just have to log on with a one hand, there is growing demand foritself is no longer smart, it is merely a secure ID, pick up the document, do his servers and data centres to be set up inconduit. or her business, and log out. Objects and specific areas or even countries to en- This brave new world of comput- content are also given IDs, thus enhanc- sure sovereignty over the data. On theing, which puts ever greater physical ing security and trust for extra security. other hand, many organisations aredistance between the owner of data and In a virtual sense, the area of attack is calling for so-called private clouds, ar-the data itself, will have important re- kept to a minimum. eas that are only accessible to author-percussions on companies and organisa- ised people and not shared with the hoitions – including government – particu- Ground floor polloi of the Internet. “It’s like being inlarly those having to deal with masses Of course, the Cloud is not a misty thing a disco or a stadium with a VIP area,”of highly confidential information. “The that floats above the earth. It has shape says Moreira, “everyone is watching theold situation with VPNs, for example, and heft, just like the servers making same match, but some have special cre-was shaky,” says Moreira, ”losing a lap- up the Internet. Even in its relatively in- dentials and can access certain servicestop meant losing emails, documents, choate current form, it is beginning to and data that others cannot.” All theyeven entire databases! That could com- evolve as users make demands on physi- will need is the right key to get into thepromise the entire organisation.” Today, cal location. Servers and data centres golden door. ««« Future connect Essentially, the Cloud is noth- ing new, rather, it is the con- tinuing evolution of what Secure Marshall McLuhan already conceived as the Global Vil- lage, with computing becom- ing as simple, ubiquitous and natural as switching on a light. Naturally, given hu- man history and the tendency your enterprise of power structures to want to control as much informa- tion as possible, not only will regulations be needed for se- curity, but also to guarantee the integrity and privacy of individual users. The greenness of the Internet and by extension the Cloud is also an issue that needs ad- dressing, since cooling thou- sands of whirring servers costs a great deal of energy. On the positive side, how- ever, easier accessibility and multi-terminal services will also reduce the need to travel. Moreira himself often confers with clients and engineers in your data India and Vietnam, for exam- ple, and he sees no problem with larger meetings being done virtually. It’s a ques- your identity tion of paradigm, and that is shifting ever so quickly. And to think that just a few brief decades ago, Dick Tracy’s two- way wrist TV was so cool and absurd at the same time, it had to be relegated to the fun- nies page.30 – Swiss style