After four years in stealth, Altr announced today that it has raised $15 million to build software that uses blockchain technology to provide cybersecurity.
Amid rising adoption of the cloud and microservices, native mobile apps, and the internet of things, new threat vectors to data are continually emerging — and cybercrime is predicted to have an $8 trillion impact on the global economy by 2022.
The Austin, Texas-based company built its platform on Altrchain, currently the only high-performance, enterprise-grade blockchain technology for ultra-secure data access and storage.
The Altr platform is a data security solution that lets organizations monitor, access, and store critical information. Moving beyond failed and outmoded perimeter systems, Altr is trying to create a fundamental new paradigm in cybersecurity.
The company raised its funding from institutional and private sources in the cybersecurity, IT, and financial services industries, including participation by angel John Stafford, CEO of Ronin Capital. The funds will be used to extend the Altr platform’s reach into the enterprise and bring additional Altrchain-based products and solutions to market.
Altr is led by CEO David Sikora, a software industry veteran and former executive chair at Stratfor, developer of the world’s leading geopolitical intelligence platform. Sikora is known for executing the first internet software IPO in Texas with the ForeFront Group, and he previously served in key leadership roles at Digby, Motive, and Pervasive Software.
Asked how the company uses blockchain, Sikora said in an email, “Blockchain provides highly secure storage for data itself. Altr’s proprietary blockchain technology has been optimized for this purpose, and that is where most of the company’s patent portfolio is focused. It also provides an immutable log of all data-access requests and responses, administrative changes and anomalies — ‘digital truth’ that everyone who is accountable for data can be trusted.”
The company’s board of advisors includes Mike Maples, former software executive at tech giants IBM and Microsoft; Fred Burton, who is among the world’s foremost security experts and former deputy chief of the counterterrorism division at the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service; Michael Hermus, former CTO of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; John Swainson, who led Dell’s software group and is a former CEO of cybersecurity titan CA; and Scott Abel, who cofounded Spiceworks and Motive and previously led professional services for NeXT and Apple.
Altr believes the expanding attack environment represents a mixture of temptations and economic incentives that reward bad actors who are always one step ahead of security providers, trapping providers in a losing cycle of software patches, new applications, and overwhelming complexity.
“We have a choice between change or breach,” said Sikora, in a statement. “Network-focused security isn’t enough, because it never really puts a dent in the sheer number of vulnerabilities. Rather than patching the existing attack surface, Altr has found a way to significantly reduce it. In fact, with Altr’s full solution in place, the threat vectors for data move to nearly zero. Digital trust can finally be restored.”
The mission to engineer a new security architecture is what led Altr to blockchain, and not the other way around. While no technology is as security-hardened as blockchain, its original application to cryptocurrencies does not require the flexibility, privacy, and performance needed to secure critical corporate information.
Leveraging Altrchain as a foundation, the Altr platform applies blockchain’s virtually inviolable structure to data security. It is designed to eliminate threats to data through core approaches in private blockchain, in-line data techniques, real-time alerts, and reporting for business enablement.
Sikora said, “Three things are necessary to restore trust around data usage. It is crucial to see and understand access needs and to share this view among executives and IT so that everyone knows the truth. There also needs to be a means to cut off access when it is inappropriate or defies policy, and to protect data in a way that reduces or even eliminates the ability to steal it.”
Data integrity is about more than just security. The Altr platform puts technical and non-technical staff — the CEO, the CISO, the CCO, and IT professionals — on the same page to foster meaningful collaboration on data security. It also gives them a broad view and control over how an organization’s data assets are used or seen and by whom.
Information is pulled directly from the driver level and immutably stored using Altrchain, revealing key operational insights that inform corporate strategy, as well as security strategy.
Improving the quality and automation of real-time data protection, which until now has mostly been based on retrospective detection of fraudulent activity, the Altr solution creates a blockchain-stored record of any attempt to impact data or network resources. This permanent, unalterable evidence serves as a disincentive for offenders.
The Altr platform comprises Altr Monitor (for monitoring and auditing incidents), Altr Govern (for controlling data access), and Altr Protect (for storing sensitive data in a decentralized way.
The platform seamlessly integrates into computing networks without any changes to existing hardware or software infrastructure — with support for all major database platforms, including Microsoft, Oracle, and open source stacks, the company said.
Altr has 12 issued patents and 30 pending. The company was founded in 2014 and currently has 25 employees.