The surveillance bombshells revealed by Edward Snowden
have prompted many Americans to reconsider what they say and do online.
Hoping to seize upon amplified privacy concerns, a former National Security Agency architect launched a free service this week that allows users to easily encrypt their Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook emails.
Virtru, which has received $4 million in angel financing and emerged from stealth mode to attracted significant interest from a number of potential corporate customers, including big Wall Street banks.
“There is mass concern about privacy. The issue is people don’t know where to go to take action. We’re trying to meet that need,” said John Ackerly, a former White House official who co-founded Virtru with his brother Will.
While working at the NSA, Will Ackerly helped invent an encryption format that has become the standard for sharing sensitive data between U.S. intelligence agencies. Seeing the great demand to protect personal and commercial documents, the Ackerly brothers are now deploying that platform to a much wider audience.
“Services like Virtru will probably give most commercial users a degree of security that only governments have enjoyed to this point,” said Cedric Leighton, a former NSA official who does not know the Ackerly brothers.
Virtru appears to be launching at a perfect time given the enormous amount of attention on government surveillance, which classified documents leaked by Snowden show is far greater than the American public realized. According to a poll of 2,000 U.S. adults by Harris Interactive that Virtru commissioned, 73% of Americans online are concerned about the privacy of their email communications. But just 34% of online adults said they had taken steps like using a secure email provider or encrypted technologies.
While the Snowden revelations “caused the country tremendous harm in terms of national security,” John Ackerly said the “issues are real and the balance of power has shifted away from the individual.”
Using the open-source Trusted Data Format that Will Ackerly helped create in 2008, Virtru allows users to encrypt emails from Google’s Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft’s Outlook and Apple’s Mac Mail. The service is powered by 256-bit AES encryption.
VIDEO – See how Virtru works…
SOURCE – foxbusiness.com