Keeping emails safe from prying eyes drives young software developer

New innovators: Jumble

Gavin Kearney, founder of Jumble

Gavin Kearney, founder of Jumble

 

It’s what we all fear but don’t really want to think about: email is not a particularly secure way to communicate.

However, peace of mind may be just a click away. Young Irish tech company, Jumble, has just launched a new encryption system designed to keep your data safe.

“Computer security has always fascinated me, specifically email,” says software engineer and company founder, Gavin Kearney, who is no stranger to tech start-ups having been involved with three others before Jumble. “Most people don’t realise the dangers of email and just how insecure it actually is.

“The main problem is that emails can be intercepted, read and potentially edited in transit. Every week we read about email hacking and personal data being passed to organisations such as advertising companies and government bodies.

“Encryption enhances the security of a message by jumbling the contents so that it can be read only by someone who has the right encryption key to decipher it.”

Kearney has developed a one-click encryption service that provides end-to-end email security, while requiring little input from the user.

The service, which includes a browser plug-in and mobile app, works with existing email providers.

“We think everyone should have privacy and security while using modern technology, regardless of their technical competence,” he says. “There are solutions out there but they’re very cumbersome and complex. Few people ever go to the lengths required to implement them. I’ve always felt there must be a better solution and decided to come up with it while doing my Masters in security and forensic computing at DCU.”

Jumble is the commercial fruit of Kearney’s research and he says the aim was to develop robust protection that does its job seamlessly. “Drivers don’t need to ‘understand’ the engines in their cars, they just need to know how to drive. This is our approach with Jumble, we want people to have the benefit of the product, not the baggage of how it works. They do not need to change their email address, email provider or email habits,” he says.

Those receiving emails from Jumble users will be invited to register in order to read the encrypted content. There is no cost to personal users to register. Companies will pay a subscription.

Jumble employs three people and Kearney expects this to rise to 13 people within the next year. Development costs have been bootstrapped at €100,000. Key input to the project came from cryptography expert, David Gray, of DCU’s school of computing. The company used an Enterprise Ireland-funded Innovation Voucher to collaborate with DCU.

Jumble has decided to crowd fund the next stage of its development and is hoping to raise in the order of €200,000 in the coming months to support the development of more platforms across both desktop and mobile. While Jumble is free for all personal users, companies and individuals requiring extra levels of security can subscribe to a paid version that provides an additional layer of security. The subscription price is not yet finalised.

“Jumble is a global product focusing on the business users of major cloud email providers, specifically Google Apps for Business and Microsoft Office365,” Kearney says. “We are now officially in beta and are rolling out our marketing efforts.

“Our competition is a mix of older enterprise companies offering gateway encryption solutions and smaller, newer companies offering solutions similar to, but not as easy to use as Jumble,” he adds. “We believe we have the potential to become the go-to product for email protection and that exposure at the Web Summit will showcase our technology to the world. Once people see what we’ve got, we think they will come to us.”

– OLIVE KEOGH