«Being patented in the USA is very important when it comes to ICT. Now we can be more open about our solution, and begin to explore opportunities in the US market», says Rong, a professor of Computer Science at University of Stavanger (UiS).
He first developed the idea with fellow researcher Gansen Zhao. The idea, quite simply, was to find a more secure system of encrypting data in the «cloud».
Cloud computing involves the use of remote servers for computer services. Huge server parks around the world have taken over for local storage of e-mail, photos, documents and other information. Dropbox, iCloud and Google Docs are examples of such services.
This is a cost-effective and flexible solution for the individual user, but does require sending your data back and forth over the internet. In turn, this brings with it security challenges.
Lock and key
Providers of cloud storage make sure that your data is locked with an encryption key when you send it, and unlocked again when you retrieve them. But the key remains with the service provider, which doesn’t necessarily accept responsibility if data is compromised.
Several cloud storage systems have been hacked. Therefore, many public and private organizations refuse to use such services.
In Professor Rong’s system, however, the control key lies with the individual user and data at the cloud service provider remains locked by this control key.
«That way, you are the only person who has access to your data and controls further sharing», says Rong.
Helped by the university’s technology transfer office, Prekubator TTO, the solution has now become a commercial product. The Stavanger-based company F5IT has bought the rights and further developed the concept into a commercially viable product.
«Our organization is very keen on innovation. Our 40 employees have great ideas, which we want to cultivate. Cooperation with Prekubator TTO was a result of this process», says Trond Furenes, CEO of F5IT.
The finished product is called «Smart Secure». Furenes sees a big market for this kind of security programme.
«This is a solution that can be built into the customer's existing software. That’s a great advantage», he says.
Professor Rong is not finished with his idea. He will continue to develop the technology so that the finished product can be both faster and easier to use.
Rong is also head of the CIPSI research centre at UiS.