This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Cybersecurity series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and cyber security.
In this interview we speak with Doug Wick, CPO at ALTR, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the cyber security business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What is the story behind ALTR? Why and how did you begin?
DW: ALTR was started by a group of engineers who had worked at a financial tech company in the options trading space. At that company, they had encountered really intractable data security and governance issues – and they had also learned about the security and governance architecture used to secure money. With ALTR, they set out to bring the same infrastructure that prevents the theft of money to data.
2. Please describe your use case and how ALTR uses blockchain:
DW: Central to the problem around data usage and storage is one of trust. It's not just about keeping the data from being stolen, it's also about maintaining its integrity. ALTR has developed a data security and governance platform that uses blockchain's tamper-resistant structure to store all audit records of data access, as well as the data itself. This private, permissioned ALTRchain technology was developed from the ground up, as other blockchain projects don't feature the performance and flexibility needed to support most enterprise use cases.
But just as important as the core ALTRchain technology is how we bring it to today's enterprise in a pragmatic way. Here we took a major cue from the financial space, where all of the risk checks against the flow of money are embedded in the critical path between the people, who want the asset and the asset itself. Our platform embeds in the critical path of data through a thin layer of technology wrapped around database drivers, which all applications use to connect to their databases. Through ALTR's Smart Drivers we act as the data broker – monitoring all data access, governing what types of access are permissible, and even redirecting requests for data to our blockchain storage when sensitive data has been moved there. We don't replace any existing infrastructure, in fact the impact of our platform is incredibly low.
This is a challenge for blockchain writ large, which is to apply it to a real, tangible problem – but also invest in ways for today's enterprise to adopt it without having to throw out the systems they use today.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
DW: ALTR recently announced our biggest customer to date. Q2 is a public financial software company that provides online banking, bill pay, lending, and other digital banking services to more than 400 banks and credit unions, who service over 13 million end customers. Q2's deal with ALTR is to integrate ALTR technology into all of their products, and we are already live in their Bill Pay products, where we are fragmenting cardholder data out to a blockchain and monitoring any access to it. Q2 Trustview, as they have branded it, is powered by ALTR.
4. What other blockchain use cases in cybersecurity are you excited about?
DW: Just about any data integrity problem, of which there are many – from identity data to configuration data – is fertile ground for the application of high-performance blockchain. Also, it's a good way for multiple parties to collaborate around sensitive data, which is increasingly important as businesses seek to advance key initiatives in financial, health care, and manufacturing industries.
5. Where will ALTR be in five years?
DW: Five years is a long time in the life of a startup. But by then I believe we will have succeeded in large part in delivering on our mission to address the rampant problems around data security and privacy that everyone is experiencing today. We are entering a phase in the development of connected computing where digital trust becomes a central issue, and ALTR is well-positioned to make a huge positive impact there.