Nok Nok Labs, a strong authentication startup backed by government security veterans including Richard Clarke, and Bob Lentz has launched today. The company is already considered one of the startups to watch in 2013, and was named a finalist for the most innovative startup of the year at RSA’s Innovation Sandbox program this year. According to a spokesperson for the company, Nok Nok was formed because current approaches to authentication have failed to address the usability and security needs of users (i.e. the password problem), and organizations cannot meet the needs of today’s computing platforms – a huge issue given the explosion of mobile usage for online transactions.
The company is offering a Unified Authentication Infrastructure, which leverages existing technologies such as fingerprint sensors or webcams, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips, or voice biometrics, organizations can easily and securely authenticate to anyone, anywhere and to any device. Nok Nok Lab’s solutions provide organizations with the ability to defend themselves and their users against increasingly sophisticated online threats, and deliver more functionality that improves customer service and employee productivity.
The vision behind Nok Nok Labs was created by Founder and Chief Alliance Officer, Ramesh Kesanupalli. He worked with Michael Barrett, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) of PayPal, to make significant changes to authentication. Taher Elgamal, the “Father of SSL,” joined the efforts of Kesanupalli and Barrett, who brought in additional people and built out the vision for the company.
ONSET Ventures and DCM have provided the initial round of venture capital financing for the company and Nok Nok Labs has put together a veteran team that has reshaped the data security, online transaction security and online payments spaces. Board members include Richard A. Clarke, former head of counter-terrorism for the GHW Bush and Clinton administrations and current CEO of Good Harbor Consulting, and Michael Barrett, CISO for PayPal. Additional advisory board members include, Bob Lentz, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber, Identity and Information Assurance at the Department of Defense and Steve Babbage, Distinguished Engineer & Group Chief Cryptographer, Vodafone.
In addition, the company has joined forces with other industry leaders such as PayPal, Lenovo, Validity, Agnitio and Infineon to establish the FIDO Alliance, a non-profit corporation organized to address market needs and requirements. The FIDO Alliance is developing a new industry open standard to address the lack of interoperability of existing authentication solutions as well as the problems users face with multiple usernames and passwords. This new open standard for strong authentication (“FIDO”) will allow any website or cloud application to interface with a broad variety of existing and future FIDO-enabled devices and technologies that the user has available for online security.