You might attend one of the large cyber security trade shows or a national conference on defeating hackers and keeping your company's data safe, and emerge thinking "hackers don't have a chance of getting in". And then you see yet another headline on yet another big data breach, and reality kicks in. We're far from winning you think. But wait, there's a new technology in town, which has the ability to start levelling the playing field.
If a set of technologies clearly don’t work well, should you blindly keep on using them? That’s the question we asked ourselves several years ago when looking at today’s inadequate authentication systems and products. We could see that all of them suffered from major flaws. Perhaps the biggest is that they all require users to give up something valuable - like a mobile number or fingerprint (to name just two) - which can ALL be stolen.That’s worth repeating. Virtually all current authentication systems depend on user secrets or objects which can be stolen, rendering them weak and vulnerable. So we set out a number of years ago (around 2005) to create something where the user’s all-important “secret” could not be stolen, is never exposed, only resides in the user’s head, and does not depend on users having to carry extra bits of plastic (including phones) to prove who they are. Shayype technology we believe is the first real advance in cyber security for decades. Now users can enjoy the convenience of passwords, with the strength of 2FA - without the clutter and cost of having to use extra devices. Not even phones! Shayype displays a different code (a one-time passcode or OTP) on the user’s screen, meaning it’s far more secure than say vulnerable “two-step” authentication systems where users are sent codes by text. These can so easily be diverted to hackers’ own phones simply by taking over a user’s mobile account. We also hope to save the world from the burden of having to use longer and “stronger” passwords, which just get harder to remember – so end up being written down or stored en masse. All that’s now inthe past. The future now looks more secure for all of us, as at last cyber security can (pardon the pun) Shayype up.
Jonathan is the founder of Shayype having pioneered pattern-based authentication in Europe as long ago as 2005. His background is in communications, media (both as print and broadcast journalist), public relations and conference organisation. In 2008 a company he set up to begin exploring the potential of device-less OTP authentication was awarded “Cool Vendor”status by Gartner, and in 2009 the same company won UKTI’s Franco-British Award for Innovation. Now as part of the Shayype team he hopes to save the world from the burden of passwords, replacing them with what is arguably the first new knowledge-based “factor” for use in human authentication in decades.
Paul is responsible for commercial development at Shayype.He is an experienced corporate business builder, having led Companies acrossEMEA, including playing a key role at FedEx, where he created a newdivision to focus on e-commerce activity to address the new needs of thedigital age. For the past 10 years he has been a hands-on Investor,helping early stage tech businesses across multiple sectors start and scaletheir operations. Three companies he has supported have featured in the SundayTimes Fast Track 100 – and his goal is to add Shayype to that list, based onthe value the company will create for its customers.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
No. That would betray your secret pattern. You just read off the numbers and input them on a separate keypad (on the device or using a stand-alone one on-screen). One of the strengths of Shayype is that it’s practically impossible for someone watching you to work what your pattern is – as there are at least seven of each digit. Which ‘5’ did you use, which ‘4’ etc.
Yes. Like having multiple passwords, you can have more than one pattern. However (although this is up to individual users) you may decide having just one, or even two, patterns is enough.
You’ll be able to re-set your pattern securely. (Talk to us directly to find out how user security is maintained.)
Yes. In fact, we want to build a system which will allow things like Google password and phone-based two-factor to be replaced by Shayype. Google Authenticator with its QR codes and phone-based OTPs clearly isn’t the answer most people want. The system has been around for approaching a decade, yet a year or so back one of the Google security engineers revealed that less than 10% of users have it. So, we’re aiming to build an alternative: whenever you need to authenticate, a Shayype matrix will pop up and you’ll just read off and input a securely delivered OTP to prove it’s you. We’re going to welcome support from people like you in exchange for getting hold of early versions. Watch this space.
Due to its flexibility, Shayype is an ideal ‘extra’ factor or ‘fallback’ system, which could operate if other systems have failed. For example, if a biometric system – such as a fingerprint reader – couldn’t operate due to several factors (e.g. user’s fingerprint has worn away) Shayype could still operate.
Certainly. Shayype is a new ingredient in the security ‘mix’, able in theory to replace all fixed user-ID codes including PINs (personal identification numbers) as well as much of the hardware (sleeve-readers, key-fobs, cards). It could therefore replace or enable updating of, most of the systems currently in use. For instance, credit and debit cards could work with Shayype OTPs instead of fixed PINs, enabling them to be used securely online; vulnerable fixed passwords used in web-banking (albeit only exposed in parts – but still vulnerable) could be replaced. Etc.
Absolutely. Users of Shayype combined with most of the state-of-the-art IAM packages on the market allow users to authenticate just once rather than having to do it again each time they want to use individual applications. This means that your applications don't have to deal with login forms, authenticating users, and storing users – which hugely raises security (as there are no longer multiple places where possibly ‘shared’ passwords are stored). Once logged-in to an IAM via Shayype, users won't have to log in again to access a different application.
Typically, you’d be directed (perhaps via an email link) to a webpage containing a ‘blank’ grid. You then just click on a few dots to create a secret pattern or shape (guided by a neat ‘strength’ meter). The system then suggests you try out your pattern by seeing a dummy ‘real’ grid and reading off numbers. If you can do that OK, the system will ask if you want to save your pattern, and you’re done. It’s as simple as that.
There are over 33bn on a 5x7 – which is our ‘everyday’ or default size matrix. Increase the size of the matrix, and security goes up exponentially.
Yes. Compared to existing systems such as MS Active Directory where encrypted passwords are stored, the Shayype system offers far higher security as users' secret patterns are not actually stored in their original form.