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Hungarian developers Istvan Lam and Szilveszter Szebeni have put a bounty of their own heads to lure some of the most talented “white hat” hackers in the world.
Starting today, Lam and Szebeni, who are self-described “security freaks,” are offering a $25,000 prize to anyone who can hack the layers of defenses protecting their startup, Tresorit.
Tresorit is intended to be a cloud-based, more secure version of Dropbox. Top hackers in Europe developed its tech in 2009, and the fledgling firm counts Levente Buttyan, a professor of cryptography and the head of the CrySyS Lab, among its advisers. The founders often boast that their infrastructure is complex and potentially even “indecipherable.”
Tresorit leverages patented encryption methods, incorporating the AES-256 protocol (which government agencies use), to protect its software from hackers. The founders believe that only the most talented developers from institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT have a shot at breaking through layers of encryption.
“The average hacker-wannabe [could not penetrate] hundreds of thousands lines of code and our multilayered security,” said Tresorit spokesperson Szabolcs Nagy. Tresorit has made a copy of their entire infrastructure, uploaded it, and added fake user profiles.
Tresorit plans to promote the challenge to hackers on community sites like Reddit and HackerNews as well as reaching out directly to security experts at top universities.
The Tresorit team, who are graduates of Hungary’s top technical university, the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BUTE), told me it had initially intended to build products to “protect cyber-criminals.” However, the pair had a change of heart, and decided to focus on cloud-based security for businesses and individuals.
It may seem like a publicity stunt, but the founders believe that inviting hacks will expose potential holes with their system. “Our aim is to kickstart continuous, large-scale penetration testing of Tresorit [by] asking top experts in the field to test our technology,” said Nagy.
In 2012, Tresorit raised a $1.7 million first round of funding led by Euroventures, and eight angel investors.