CryptoPhoto

CryptoPhoto founder Chris Drake is attempting to solve one of the online world’s biggest problems from right here on the Sunshine Coast. 

CryptoPhoto is an authentication technology designed to prevent online fraud by using images, rather than codes, to verify a user’s identify. A user attempting to log in to a website or application is shown a random image; in order to gain access they must select the same image from a selection of photos sent via message to a registered smartphone.

The technology is simple, fast and easy to use, and according to Chris it is the only available protection for phishing, which causes the majority of online security breaches. 

Existing security systems 'don't work'

Chris became interested in security during the early 1980s while working in video game copyright protection. After roles with IBM, BHP and a stint in overseas internet sales, he returned to Australia in 2000 and launched one of the earliest email tracking software platforms.

The business was an immediate success and still boasts more than a million customers worldwide, which allows Chris to focus on his real passion - helping businesses and customers prevent online fraud.

“It’s frustrating to watch people get hacked and see organisations haemorrhaging money and accounts when the problem is relatively easy to fix.”

He says the greatest challenge is convincing banks and large retail companies that their existing security systems simply don’t work.

“In order to prevent phishing, most organisations adopt what’s known as two-factor or biometric authentication,” he said.

“The problem with this technology is that it doesn’t work. Nine out of 10 hacks are still caused by phishing, and some of the world’s largest websites and domain registries are regularly compromised because their users can be tricked into revealing passwords - whether it’s online, in person or over the phone.

“It’s frustrating to watch people get hacked and see organisations haemorrhaging money and accounts when the problem is relatively easy to fix.”

Protecting personal information

CryptoPhoto relies on human recognition to authenticate a user, and allows users to easily block transactions they haven’t initiated. It is used by one of the world’s most secure domain name registries and has attracted interest from a Philippines-based bank as protection against widespread skimming fraud.

However, Chris says with around 78 percent of all online attacks aimed at governments, protecting citizens’ personal information is also increasingly important.  

“We recently saw four consecutive hacks of the United States (US) Office of Personnel Management, which compromised the personal records of more than 22 million past and present US Government employees and their families,” he said. “The hackers were also able to get an enormous amount of personal information about each person, including their biometric data, such as fingerprints.

“If you’re going to try to commit online fraud on a large scale, having this type of personal information makes it so much easier to create the impression of a legitimate transaction.”

...with around 78 percent of all online attacks aimed at governments, protecting citizens’ personal information is also increasingly important.  

CrytoPhoto has been awarded a Commercialisation Australia grant and is speaking with the Queensland Government about how its technology could protect Queenslanders transacting online.

The company also took out the Applications Tools and Platforms category at the Queensland iAwards in July 2015, and was a Merit Award recipient in the Finance Category.

The Coast’s tech future is secure

After living and working in Europe, the Americas and a large portion of the developing world - and choosing to base his company in Peregian Beach - Chris says the Sunshine Coast’s lifestyle is the “biggest drawcard” for the local tech industry.

“In Silicon Valley the living expenses are ridiculous and if you’re a tech business trying to find staff is impossible, because everyone talented already works for someone else,” he said.

“So companies offer their staff more money, which they accept in the hope they’ll one day be able to afford to buy a house where they want to be.

“But in a place like the Sunshine Coast, talented workers don’t have to choose between their work and their lifestyle - they can enjoy both at the same time.”

For more information visit cryptophoto.com/