Paul Puey serves as the CEO of Edge, a cyber security company that empowers individuals to take control of their own online data by developing the proprietary tools, software and systems needed to keep their information tightly secured.
Experts argue that secure information should be housed at the “edge” of a network rather than in a centralized location. Following this approach, instead of relying on enterprise server security, edge-security first encrypts data from the user’s device before it ever touches a network or server.
Formerly known as Airbitz, Puey’s first product launch was the Airbitz Bitcoin Wallet and Edge Security platform. The wallet was designed to help make Bitcoin easier and safer to use, delivering a progressive solution to contemporary security challenges. Since breaking into the market in 2014, the Airbitz Wallet has successfully secured millions of dollars in bitcoin.
Following the proven effectiveness of their Edge Security platform, Puey packaged their security tools into a proprietary software development kit adopted by other developers for the purpose of enhancing the data protection of their own applications. Through the use of advanced client-side Blockchain encryption, the Edge Security platform eliminates large-scale data breaches, helping securely propel users into the emerging networks of the future.
I spoke with Paul about the vision behind his company, rethinking cyber security, and how Blockchain solutions can prevent data breaches.
What was the specific void or opportunity you spotted that inspired the idea behind Edge?
Paul Puey: Edge was founded based on the incredible security demand that blockchains require and how this benefits not only the cryptocurrency world, but anyone that needs to secure data or assets. Edge Security is security at the ‘edges’ of a network, which is myself, you and the devices that we hold. This is in contrast to enterprise security, which has fallen prey to costly hacks over the last few years. Instead of centralizing data and trusting a third-party, Edge secures the data client-side, encrypting it on a device that you control. Our idea was to invert the security model and put data back in control of the user, which means that hackers have less of a reward for any one hack, which game theory would tell us will help eliminate the incentives of future attacks.
What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced getting your business off the ground and establishing your space within the industry?
Paul Puey: One of the greatest challenges has been educating both customers and businesses on the underlying technology of Edge. While Edge utilizes complex encryption, data backup, device synchronization, and two-step authentication; all of its complexity is hidden under the familiarity of a simple app login. What may look like a login to a centralized server implements data security that makes even the CEO of Edge unable to access the data and funds of its users. Recent hacks like Equifax, Uber, and Target have brought increased scrutiny to the security conversation, and we’ve found that this has resulted in an increased demand for decentralized security solutions. We also knew that decentralized security had immense value, but that companies and consumers needed more practical tools to help them see the potential applications of this technology. That’s one of the reasons why we launched a Bitcoin wallet first, known as Airbitz, and then started offering secure single sign-in. Once we’d established a real need, we rebranded as Edge and started offering decentralized security solutions for other applications.
What have been some of the biggest blind spots in the space and how does your company aim to solve for them?
Paul Puey: The problem with centralized security is that it takes everyone’s data and puts it in one place. This puts a massive bullseye on that central location for hackers and attackers to target. It’s a lot like a city or a castle. You might have really thick walls, but you’re still at the top of a hill waving a flag, and all it takes is one person, breaking one brick, to start a chain reaction that allows them to get in. It’s the same with centralized security. In fact, this approach to securing information actually incentivizes hackers, because when they get in, they don’t just get access to one person’s data or assets, they get access to everyone’s. When it comes to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency, we’ve seen this create a huge loss of assets. Any time a wallet is hacked, those funds are lost for good, and there is no crypto version of the FDIC to restore them. So, it’s vital that funds are always secure. For other markets, the applications for Edge security are replete. Basically, any major centralized data store that could be hacked can be decentralized and put back in the hands of individual users.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding Blockchain and how should prospective investors be thinking about it?
Paul Puey: One of the biggest misconceptions with blockchain technology is the belief that it helps make data secure. In actuality, data on a blockchain is inherently public and visible to everyone. However, the keys used to access a blockchain need to be very secure, as those keys are now money. Therefore, blockchains have not created a new form of security, they have motivated its creation. Much like bitcoin has motivated the creation of our Edge Security model. There is also an excessive media focus surrounding crypto prices. A lot of people are talking about Bitcoin’s price, debating whether or not it’s a bubble, and if you read industry pundits’ opinions you’ll find wildly differing opinions. This has little to do, however, with the overall value of blockchain technology and its potential applications. Blockchain can be used for smart contracts and identity verification. The ICO space is another arena where investors can get tripped up. With so many companies launching ICOs, it’s critical for investors to understand the application of any technology they’re investing in. That means getting familiar with blockchain and the technologies built on it, so that they can make smarter investments in ideas that will be successful in time.
Describe your business model and what are the core components that drive what you do?
Paul Puey: Edge was formerly known as Airbitz. Airbitz was one of the first mobile Bitcoin wallets and is now transforming into the multi-currency wallet, Edge. Our approach was to provide a secure and easy-to-use cryptocurrency wallet for people of all experience levels. That evolved into other service offerings which included secure sign-in for decentralized apps, and now encompasses our Edge Security platform that helps companies utilize client-side encryption to protect user data and prevent costly hacks.
What is the mission fueling Edge and what primary goals are you looking to accomplish?
Paul Puey: Our goal is to change the definition of what cybersecurity is, and ultimately provide decentralized, blockchain-based security solutions across all markets. We believe that Edge Security can help reduce the number of hacks that negatively impact companies, and industries. Much like bitcoin has decentralized ownership of money, Edge will decentralize the security and ownership of data.
What are the keys to your company being both successful and sustainable?
Paul Puey: Our company relies on the need for decentralized security solutions which is growing rapidly. The blockchain industry is driving that initial growth. When it comes to sustainability, we plan on building on the wealth of partnerships we’ve established to grow the footprint Edge Security has on the industry. We already work with some of the biggest names in the decentralized app space, Augur, OpenLedger, and Cashaa to name a few. That list is growing as more and more people recognize the need for user-friendly, secure solutions.
How do you see your company evolving in the next 3-5 years and what impact do you hope to make on the industry?
Paul Puey: 2017 is going out with a bang for Bitcoin. The sudden spike in media attention surrounding various announcements in the cryptocurrency world have brought the digital currency alternatives into the public eye like never before. This spotlight has led to a broader awareness of the wider world of blockchain. In 2018, I expect that Bitcoin will serve as a gateway through which many people will begin to engage with the wider world of cryptocurrency and decentralized blockchain technologies. In 3-5 years, we predict a world where decentralized apps make up a significant portion of our online presence, from insurance, loans, asset trading, social media, and content creation. Each of these blockchain apps will require users to secure keys that control their digital funds. Today, Google and Facebook control the single-sign-on experience for centralized services. With the quickly approaching world of decentralized and secure apps, Edge will be the go-to solution for easy, familiar single-sign-on with the decentralized security model that Facebook and Google can’t provide.