Advances in internet technology have dramatically changed the way we collect and use personal information, which can be transferred and disseminated globally and more rapidly now than ever before. However, coinciding with this is the heightened rate of cybercrime and cyber predators lurking in the indefatigable online jungle.
Sydney based internet company Cocoon Data Holdings Pty Ltd has developed a tool called ‘Secure Envelopes’ to protect the public and corporate world against this growing number of cybercrime. The cyber-underground is growing ever more sophisticated and hi-tech criminals trading stolen information are thriving rather than suffering in the economic downturn. It has become apparent in the current economic climate the threat from 'inside' the company is as likely, if not greater, than the threat from outsider attack. Cocoon Data has listed with the Australian Small Scales Offering Board (ASSOB) to fund the further expansion of the Company. The offer is only open to sophisticated investors.
Cybercrime reached massive proportions in 2008, according to an international survey conducted by McAfee, costing businesses US$1 trillion globally. This survey has highlighted the challenges businesses face in protecting sensitive information and customer data in a global marketplace. Cocoon seeks to encourage Australian businesses to make data security a priority, with vital business information more vulnerable than ever. Businesses need to be aware of such risks and implement policies and technologies to avoid serious financial loss.
SECURE ENVELOPES- CERTIFIED MAIL FOR THE INTERNET
Cocoon’s Australian engineered ‘Secure Envelopes’ software allows the sender or creator of any type of electronic attachment to easily encrypt, manage and control the attachment, prior and post distribution. ‘Secure Objects’ is the core Intellectual Property owned by Cocoon Data. The technology is a world first, has patents pending and is drawing interest from Europe, Asia and the US. The software effectively empowers the sender to: revoke a certain document or a person/s access post distribution, identify who, how and at what time a document has been accessed and control whether the recipient can print or copy and paste the document.
According to Trent Telford, Ceo, Cocoon Data, “Australian and International businesses need to make data security a top priority, with vital business information more vulnerable than ever. But, as use of email and internet file transfer protocols continues to expand, the need to keep data safe has become more pressing.”
If an email data protection system is to work, Mr Telford says, it must be very user friendly. Until now, he says, encryption systems required knowledge of quite complex technology - public and private keys, encryption software, computer dongles and so on.
"We think of Secure Envelopes as certified mail for the internet," he says. "Even better, imagine being able to revoke access to the envelope even after the person has signed to take delivery of it."
Mr Telford says security is "a term I steer away from because this is not just about (internet) security but about protecting that which is important to a person. It might be an email attachment, medical records, minutes of a company meeting, anything they want to keep safe."
Most data is now kept on computer hard drives or, in the case of large companies, a data centre, he says. "The problem is that to move that data we use the internet and it was never designed to be secure. It is a system for sharing information, not keeping it private.”
"People can protect their data within their own domain, but when it has to be shared there is a problem, because once it is out there you cannot control what happens to it," Mr Telford says.
Thinking about the problem led the Cocoon Data developers to design their Secure Envelopes system. "We looked at encryption and then at security from an identity management perspective and thought that a file does not belong to a file server or to a hard drive, it belongs to a person. The owner should be able to decide who is permitted to see that file by issuing an authority to them."
Before the file is attached to an email it is encrypted and within that encryption is an authority specifying who is allowed to open the file. "The recipient needs to have our reader software installed - an application, a little exe file of about 1.5 MB.”
"The recipient must have an internet connection so that when they click on the encrypted attachment it first of all goes to our server and says, "what's this envelope?' and if it is a valid envelope, it sends a challenge to the recipient to prove who he says he is. If that test is passed - maybe a use-once pass code or a password - it will pass the encryption key from our server, decrypt the file in the background and then the receiver can drag the files out of the envelope."
EXPANSIVE INDUSTRY VERTICALS
While Cocoon has already won a number of contracts from varying sectors, including health, defence and government that demonstrate the diversity of the software’s application across many sectors and verticals, management are initially focusing on the following four key vertical markets:
• Defence – There is perhaps no better example of the importance of Cocoon’s technology than the Defence and Military industry, where compromised data in the military world could mean a breach of national security or lives being lost. The military have numerous issues when faced with Data in motion and data in use, particularly outside of Defence bases or secure network. Cocoon’s technology has been welcomed by the Defence industry as it solves many critical issues – from in-combat to data security on networks
• Banking and Finance - Masses of sensitive data being handled by a myriad of different people mean that the need to protect and control access to confidential data is critical. The finance sector has major issues with managing client communications securely – both retail and corporate. The first banking client of Cocoon is one of Australia’s “Big Four Banks” and the pipeline is strong with opportunities in Australia, Asia and the US. The business case is relevant and replicable across most parts of the banking and financial sector globally – cost reduction, time to market, confidentiality, risk management, audit and non-reproduction
• Health – (Government) – the current issue of patient records being stored and transmitted electronically remains unresolved and Cocoon provides an elegant solution to many issues. E-health records is a major component of the Obama and Rudd Administration. The file and identity credential agnostic approach of Secure Envelopes coupled with a low foot-print (2 megabyte) piece of software means e-health records can be quickly and confidentially sent to doctors or medical centres even when an existing IT relationship does not exist. Cocoon has successfully completed a trial of e-health records in Victoria, transmitting patient health records from hospital outpatients to GP’s. This is anticipated to be a wider roll-out in Victoria in 2010
• Government - most government and public sector departments around the world regularly face issues of confidential data or report leaks – this is a major risk for departments that rely on inter-departmental communications for all items ranging from daily operations through to items of national security. Cocoon is moving rapidly towards deployment of secure objects technology in a range of Australian Government departments.
Cocoon Data Holdings Limited
Cocoon Data Holdings Limited is a Sydney-based internet security Company, with offices in London and New York. Cocoon Data was founded in 2007 to address the growing need for data security in the public, commercial, banking and defence sectors.
Rod North, Managing Director
P: (03) 9510 8309
M: 0408 670 706