Global innovation win sets Perth security entrepreneur on expansion fast track

'You can't hack what doesn't exist', fintech innovator argues in World Cup Tech Challenge win

An Australian security-technology entrepreneur is hitting the streets of Silicon Valley to keep up with surging interest after his company's secure-computing technology this week won its category in the Silicon Valley Forum's highly-competitive World Cup Tech Challenge.

A reworked version of the core technology that CEO Graeme Speak and his Perth-based team developed to launch hosted-desktop provider GoPC, the new BankVault offerings have been designed to offer highly-secure transactions through a Web browser.

Originally conceptualised as a way to help laggard Windows 98 users conduct secure online banking on an inherently insecure platform, the cloud-based BankVault service is a security-focused version of GoPC technology that sets up and rapidly decommissions virtual PCs for short-term use.

Each time a new system is spun up, the template-driven service assigns it completely new operating parameters including a random IP address that logically isolates the user from whatever online resources they are browsing to. When the session is done, the virtual machine is spun down and deleted – erasing the user's history and any trace of the fact that they were online.

This approach – which abstracts the online-transaction interface from the user's own device and, more importantly, keeps the secure-transaction stream away from ZeuS and similar banking Trojans, man-in-the-middle attacks or other malware techniques – offers an alternative to conventional security approaches that focus on security-hardening full-scale PCs with persistent storage and every chance of harbouring unseen and unknown malware that can cause problems down the track.

“The whole industry is trying to do clever things to harden machines that have an array of different software products from different vendors,” Speak told CSO Australia. “Nobody is able to take responsibility for the security of this solution.”

“We have gone the opposite direction by providing an absolutely secure environment while you're doing those online transactions. There is no way a hacker could get in to see what you're doing during those 5 minutes or so – and when you're finished, it evaporates without a trace. You can't hack what doesn't exist.”

Built on a stripped-down Linux core and available in USB-carried, Web-delivered or app-based versions, the BankVault technology won plaudits at the 2016 World Cup Tech Challenge – held on Microsoft's Mountain View campus – which attracted entries from over 50 countries that were winnowed down to a final roster of 23 entries in six categories.

BankVault faced off in the Fintech category against Danish blockchain innovator CapDesk and French remote device-management vendor FAMOCO and the event's venture capital-heavy judging panel ultimately chose the “unique new tool that stops hackers at the source” as the category winner. The win has already opened doors for Speak, who has previously secured some $5m in venture capital for the business and is now looking to take its cloud-based architecture global with further backing.

And with banks increasingly evaluating their exposure to customers' security postures, he's confident that the security technology will continue to find enthusiastic supporters. “As long as these security considerations are continuing – and we know cybercrime is expanding exponentially at the moment – we know there are big problems,” he said.

“We're finding that people are really concerned, and want to do something about it.” The win validates Speak's earlier decision to push the technology into Silicon Valley, where a thriving startup culture has opened doors more quickly than in Australia's risk-averse investment community.

Investment “can happen here so easily”, he said, while Australian investors “are risk averse because so many people have made so much money out of mining and property development, and that's where the wisdom is.”

“I've been pushing this barrow uphill for 20 years now,” he said, “but as we pivot into cybersecurity now, everyone gets it. I can talk to anybody about this and they get it with half a sentence.”

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags security technologiesBlockchainWindowscore technologycapdeskWorld cup Tech Challengesilicon valley

More about BuiltCSOLinuxMicrosoftMountain View

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by David Braue

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place