Carlos Moreira is nothing if not prescient. Back in 1999, the WISeKey chief executive officer saw that the Internet was hip. It was snappy. It was game-changing. Obviously, it was user-friendly. But there was one big downside: the Web’s security infrastructure was porous and ill-equipped for stable, secure transactions. “We knew one day this would be a real problem,” Moreira recalls. “The question was, while maintaining a cool, open infrastructure, how could we start developing reliable security solutions?”
Geneva, Switzerland-based global e-security leader WISeKey (WIS stands for World Internet Security) is dedicated to restoring the universal right to privacy and anonymity – or at the very least the right to choose when and how to entrust others with personal, identifiable information. By providing governments, businesses and individuals with state-of-the-art, military-grade specialized security and digital identification technologies, WISeKey’s ongoing mission statement is succinct: “to facilitate and enable the mass use of secure digital identities in everyday life.”
From the beginning, WISeKey engaged in early, complex and high-end applications, including working alongside the Swiss government to secure airtight political e-voting from personal computers, and partnering with Microsoft on its Citizen Service Platform, which enables local, regional and national governments to allow citizens and enterprises to identify and authenticate themselves across borders and multiple identity systems and cloud services. Then as now, WISeKey subsidiaries also solve advanced e-security issues for organizations in sectors ranging from defence and health to education and finance. And last year WISeKey made news by announcing plans to collaborate with venture capital firm WI Harper on developing business opportunities in China on behalf of telecommunications and e-commerce businesses.
Today, though, it’s not only industries and governments that need to secure data. Thanks in large part to social networking, individuals want to protect and own their private information, too. Says Moreira: “If the highway a car is travelling on is not secure, then you need to secure the car.” Which is why, over the last five years, WISeKey has also migrated “from an haute couture to a prêt-a-porter platform”, in Moreira’s words. The goal: to help users migrate from an obsolete, password-based infrastructure to a digital identity encryption-based one.
WISeID is a downloadable, theft-proof application that stores and accesses a person’s usernames, passwords, PINs, account numbers, bank and credit card details, frequent flyer programmes, rewards points, and other user credentials, creating a single, standalone digital identity. This way, every single identity and contact detail is traceable to a single person, and his or her mobile device. Lost your smartphone? You are the only one who knows your credentials. Moreover, a copy is stored on an encrypted cloud under the user’s control. With the personal data stored safely in WISeID, individuals regain the privacy they had all but forgotten was their right.
Moreira is particularly excited about WISeKey’s partnership with football club Real Madrid and its use of WISeID on behalf of its 600 million fans worldwide. As one of the world’s leading emotional brands, Real Madrid recognized that its enormous and devoted fan base needed a dependable way to establish a trusted online community – and called upon WISeKey to create a proprietary digital identification platform to monetize both the content and the interactions with fans. “Unlike with Facebook, the digital identity belongs to you, the individual, the fan, and not to the service provider,” says Moreira. Not least, Real Madrid shows that security can be monetized via advertising and rewards programmes, with the proceeds evenly divided among the club, the network provider and WISeKey.
WISeKey’s continuing growth and global leadership – the company recently finalized the construction of a second high security data centre in Bilbao, Spain, in addition to the one it has already built in Geneva and the one in operation in the Swiss Alps – is due in no small part to its dynamic chief executive officer. As an early participant in the evolution of the Global Growth Company (GCC) Community, Moreira dubs WISeKey’s alliance with the GGC as one of the company’s “most relevant milestones”, one that he says has benefited the company in countless ways, not least in terms of international exposure. “As we travel around the world to regional meetings,” says Moreira, “the interaction between WISeKey and all these different sectors, from health to e-government to banking and technology, has brought our outreach to new dimensions. It’s been exciting to see the connections between WISeKey and global growth.”
Humans are so enamored with the digital revolution that it is easy to forget that one of its downsides is the erosion of anonymity. WISeKey’s industry-defining technology platforms help bring identity back to where it belongs: in the individual’s own hands.
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Industry Sector: Information Technology
Management: Carlos Moreira, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder
List of Companies selected: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGC_Members_2011.pdf
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