Making it Work

This Cork-based start-up turns sensitive data into gibberish in order to beat the hackers

The idea for Vaultree, an encryption security business, grew from all four of its founders experiencing data theft

Ryan Lasmaili, co-founder of Vaultree: the encryption security business is designed to ensure that even when data gets leaked, it’s of no use to the malicious actor. Picture: Fergal Phillips

Ryan Lasmaili has quite the background. Originally from Malin in Co Donegal, he grew up mostly in Belfast as well as “all over the world”, as he puts it and has Irish, French, German, Israeli and Moroccan heritage. So it probably makes sense that he helped start a globally-focused business.

Lasmaili co-founded Vaultree alongside Tilo Weigandt, Maxim Dressler and Shaun McBrearty in 2020. The Cork city-based business has 54 staff and has raised $16 million (€14.9 million) to date.

Vaultree is an encryption security business that is designed to ensure that even when data gets leaked, it’s of no use to the malicious actor.

“If someone gets your sensitive data, what they get is gibberish,” Lasmaili told the Business Post. “No matter how your sensitive data gets out, whatever data it is, it is always encrypted. If someone tries to gain access, it is always encrypted. The data is made not readable.”

The idea grew from all of the founders having different experiences with having their data stolen, including Lasmaili having money stolen from his bank account when he was a teenager. All four know each other from their travels and academic work experiences going back several years.

“Everyone involved had a similar story. We all started looking at the challenge at different stages over the last decade or so. Our goal was to enable data privacy, which we consider a human right,” Lasmaili said. “In every organisation, data is vulnerable. We’ve seen so many cybersecurity solutions, but none have been able to solve the problem. It’s a tough problem.”

The Vaultree approach is designed to put gibberish, as Lasmaili puts it, at the heart of the solution. To get the data a question is asked in gibberish, the right gibberish answer must then be provided, the data is then provided as gibberish, and then it must be decrypted.

“The whole process is extremely complex because it uses randomised encryption. Doing it in real time without needing a complex set-up is even more difficult.”

The business is part of the high-potential start-up unit (HPSU) in Enterprise Ireland.

“We started with them very early on. Kevin Buckley in there reached out to us and has been very supportive of us since day one. It’s been amazing working with Enterprise Ireland,” Lasmaili said.

“It’s a unique thing, I don’t think many other countries have a set-up like it where a state agency operates in such an agile format. In San Francisco I can just walk to the EI office and get introductions to companies.”

Lasmaili is confident for Vaultree’s near future as it refines its product offering, with substantial interest already in its product.

“It’s one thing to solve a problem, it’s another to prove you have and to educate the market. We have enormous demand coming our way. We’ve had interest from the largest tech companies through to the smallest start-ups,” he said.

“The demand is only starting. As it stands we are the only company globally with the capacity and innovation we have. We are going to grow significantly over the next year. We will be focused heavily on bringing this to market fast, growing in North America and Europe.”

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland