Duality, a start-up founded by breakthrough cryptographers and data scientists that creates tools to make it easier for businesses to share data and collaborate with each other without compromising sensitive information, has raised funds through some important early deals , including a contract with the US Department of Defense.
The startup, which uses homomorphic encryption – a relatively new technique that allows businesses to analyze and use encrypted data without needing to decrypt it – to create secure, privacy-focused collaboration tools, raised 30 million dollars, in a Series B that includes a number of strategic investors. LG Technology Ventures is leading the way, with Euclidian Capital and Nventures, the corporate venture capital arm of National Bank of Canada, as well as previous backers Intel Capital (which drives the A-series of Duality), Hearst Ventures and Team8.
Duality is not disclosing its valuation and has raised around $ 49 million to date. PitchBook Notes that its valuation in this Series B would be $ 145 million although it does not have the full value of this Series B, so that may be different.
CEO Alon Kaufman – who co-founded the company with a team of other data scientists, mathematicians and engineers, including Shafi Goldwasser (who won a Turing Prize for his groundbreaking work in the cryptographic algorithms which form the basis of homomorphic encryption), Rina Shainski, Vinod Vaikuntanathan and Kurt Rohloff – said in an interview that the plan will be to continue efforts to create more secure collaboration tools.
When it comes to commercialization, homomorphic (HE) encryption is still in its infancy, so the startup will use the funds to keep working on how to evolve and produce the technology, to make it more usable by all kinds of client companies, as well as to continue its R&D efforts, both independently and in partnership with other publishers, which include its strategic funders, but also others such as Oracle.
“It’s clear to us that we can’t expect customers using our product to be experts in homomorphic encryption,” Kaufman said. This is one of the reasons he is working on deals to integrate the technology into other systems that customers could typically use, such as products like Oracle or IBM. “This means any fraud analyst can click the mouse buttons without worrying about what is going on behind the scenes. Most of the work is done by Duality.
There are a number of other companies that are also working on ways to apply homomorphic encryption to corporate networks: they include Awakening, supported by the investment arm of the CIA; Based at IBM and Paris Zama. (And there are others like Evervault who create alternatives that don’t use HE.)
An important part of the traction for Duality is that it is already found interesting customers. Earlier this year, Duality announced a $ 14.5 million agreement with DARPA to work on new hardware, in collaboration with third parties, that can better handle the resource-intensive demands of homomorphic encryption processes.
Along with the DARPA deal, Duality builds and sells tools that blend HE with other data science techniques – which it sells as Duality SecurePlus – the idea being that HE is used for the most data. sensitive, while other tools are applied to other places. . The startup’s other clients include organizations in fields such as financial services, healthcare, and government.
Duality’s technology responds to a fundamental paradox in the world of big data.
On the bright side, data collaboration holds great promise for the corporate world. Used smart, having as large a pool of data as possible from multiple sources can help organizations gain breakthrough medical information, train artificial intelligence models, track fraud or security concerns. , to better understand consumer behavior, etc. And in some cases, it’s a staple of the way things work: not a business choice, but a must.
But on the negative side, all that silver lining comes with a big cloud as well. Organizations run the risk of unintentional or malicious data leaks; and in ownership situations, a business may like the net proceeds of sharing data with potential competitors, but not the idea of sharing its intellectual property or valuable information about its customers.
Data breaches and other cybersecurity issues are occurring more and more frequently nowadays, as data protection regulations and consumer expectations become more stringent, increasing the need for better tools. to manage how data is used.
This is one of the reasons why Duality has caught the attention of so many strategic funders.
LG is an attractive investor in this regard. Duality is headquartered in New Jersey, but has its roots in Israel, a country where LG has become increasingly active as it strengthens its presence in cybersecurity and its applications in specific markets such as automotive. The other week, it made its first acquisition in Israel by acquiring Cybellum, a specialist in cybersecurity for connected cars.
“As privacy challenges increase in our data-driven world, Duality has established itself as a market leader in rapidly developing privacy technologies,” said Taejoon Park, General Manager of LG Technology Ventures, in a statement. “The demand for secure, collaborative computing techniques is skyrocketing – including privacy-preserving AI and machine learning analytics – and will continue to do so as businesses seek to unlock their data treasures while staying on the bright side of increasingly complex privacy regulations. Duality is uniquely positioned to lead privacy-tight computing applications across many industries during this time of rapid change, and I’m excited to see the company expand its highly innovative solutions to even more areas.