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WISeKey is a global cybersecurity company deploying large scale digital identity ecosystems for people and objects. The company has an install base of over 1.5 billion microchips in their IoT ecosystem, which includes connected cars, smart cities, drones, agricultural sensors, anti-counterfeiting, etc. Its semiconductors leverage big data that, when analyzed with artificial intelligence, help industrial applications to predict the failure of their equipment before it happens.
In this exclusive interview with Identity Review, we sat down with WISeKey CEO Carlos Moreira to hear more about how WISeKey’s technologies are allowing users to create secure ownership over their digital identity.
Based in Switzerland, WISeKey focuses on IoT management. However, in comparison to other identity management companies in the market, WISeKey has also expanded its focus to objects, allowing companies to secure against potential hacks and intruders in everyday tools, whether it’s a camera, a smoke detector or a connected car.
“Imagine all the objects that you have under your control, you don’t control the identity of those objects. So when you pair them with your mobile phone, you cannot trust them because they might be sending malware into your house, or into your car, or into your office,” said Moreira. “So, we provide a layer of identification of objects that allow users to be 100% connected with those objects, but also to trust the object.”
Moriera notes that WISeKey’s solution provides identity and protection at the object level to help prevent security breaches such as the Ring security system hacks that occurred last year.
“On the internet, digital identities are the way that platforms such as Amazon, or Facebook, or Twitter—even Apple—collect data for users, right? Because you have to sign on on their platform and the identity does not belong to you, it belongs to the platform. So the platform can, by offering you free services, basically, do whatever they want with your data. They can sell the data, they can data mine the data, do analytics on your data. So with the WISeKey technology, the identity is under the control of the consumer.”
Root of Trust is an algorithm that is the connection between the object and the internet, meaning that if a user is connected to an object, they must connect through the internet with a 5G or 4G internet connection. Two years ago, WISeKey acquired a microchip company in France to put the company’s Root of Trust into a chip for its current technology. Currently, the company has 6 billion installations of their Root of Trust technology, with their priority to sell software and hardware together with a microchip.
According to Moreira, WISeKey currently has partnerships with companies that are developing large IoT deployments, such as Microsoft Azure, SAP Leonardo and Oracle. These backends get data that are extracted from installed objects.
“We are always looking for partners that can embed our technology in their products. We just announced a drone company is now putting the chips inside their drones in order to protect the security of the drones. Or connected cars—we signed with many automobiles and they are now launching the next generation of connected cars, and they send a lot of data to the cloud and so on.”
In the digital identity space, WISeKey’s technology also helps to solve a different yet significant problem: counterfeiting. In the past, manufacturers of objects such as video cameras, smoke detectors and drones didn’t focus on the security of their products. This has resulted in violations and hacks that have led to negative publicity, driving companies to make an investment in order to add additional layers of security.
“Because if you buy a very expensive watch, first of all, you want to be sure that it’s not a counterfeit one, which is a lot of them in the market. And secondly, you want to be able to prove anytime, to anybody that asks you that question, ‘Wow. You’ve got a Rolex? Is that a real Rolex?’” noted Moreira. “You can prove that by just putting your watch near your mobile phone and establish a secure connection, so the mobile phone shows them this is a real watch.”
Currently, counterfeiters make around $1 trillion from creating fake products. The cost to the industry is also much bigger due to reputation damage and the possibility that these products can sometimes result in injury and even death. This has been especially prevalent during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Now with the COVID situation, a lot of people are buying fake medical products that are endangering their health. So, it’s a big problem. a lot of the medical products have been hacked,” said Moreira. “And that, obviously, has put a lot of pressure on clinics and hospitals to treat the sick people. So it’s a very big problem and we are just at the beginning of solving that problem.”
In terms of the future, the company, although primarily focused in Europe, is also looking to break into the US market.
WISeKey’s technologies are HIPAA compliant and use digital certification for users’ identity. Users can start with a strong identity and add on identity credentials, which are PCI-based credentials. These credentials are stored in blockchain ledgers, which allow users to decentralize the identity map process.
“Let’s say that you issue a digital identity for a clinic, and then different people have different attributes. So if I am a doctor, I can access the operation room, if I am a scientist, I can go to the lab. If I am a nurse, I can go to the treatment floor. And all those credentials are decentralized in ledgers so anyone can check those credentials real-time without the need to go to databases. So, mixing the power of PGI public infrastructure with blockchain technology is actually the final solution, because you create decentralized identity management systems. This is what WISeKey does.”
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