This quantum technology startup protects data with hack-proof encryption, powered by Intel Startup Program

Bengaluru-based QNu Labs, founded with an aim to future-proof today’s data, is the first Indian startup in the quantum safe-cryptography space. Their products provide a new paradigm in encrypting keys using quantum physics principles as opposed to the traditional method of encrypting keys.
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Cybersecurity attacks have continued to increase through the years not only in terms of vectors and numbers, but also in terms of their impact. In the IoT device space alone, a State of the IoT Devices report reveals that the global number of connected IoT devices could grow to more than 27 billion IoT connections by 2025, pointing to a phenomenal increase in the breadth and depth of the threat landscape. These IoT devices that are going to be installed in the next couple of years would be highly insecure to new quantum computing inspired attacks.

Identity theft itself leads to a financial loss of about $200 billion every year. It’s a problem that is very likely to increase exponentially in the post-quantum era. The ever expanding threat landscape also includes the lack of perfect randomness for encryption keys, digital signatures, and other crypto material which is misused by hackers to get access to the secret keys, in addition to the vulnerabilities and risk of distribution of encryption keys over public networks.

This is where QNu Labs, the first Indian startup in the quantum safe-cryptography space, steps up to the challenge. Their products do not use conventional methods of encrypting keys, but instead provide a new paradigm in encrypting keys using quantum physics principles.

How it works

“Quantum cryptography uses photon light, or Qubits, to ensure that the data is protected and that the keys are constantly changing for any attacker to open a piece of information,” explains Sunil Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, QNu Labs.

“The current mathematical keys used in securing data are challenged by this new way of securing information: neither the person sending the data nor the recipient has any idea as to what the key is. In fact, the key is decided by the key management system only when it knows the party is ready to receive it,” he adds.

The startup’s current product portfolio comprises three solutions - Tropos, a random number generator; Armos, a quantum key distributor; and Hodos, a quantum secure platform for key management. All these are primarily targeted at industries like banking, telecommunications, IT infrastructure, defense, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

These products are designed to plug-in with existing infrastructure and do not require rip or replace of any existing crypto infrastructure. They are the most viable cost-effective quantum data security solution available today.

QNu Labs has built very powerful and pertinent application integrations and packaged solutions to serve IT needs of multi-factor authentication, secure key vault, boot and encryption keys for edge devices and infrastructure that leverage power of quantum cryptography to protect from man-in-the-middle attacks and prevent data theft due to phishing and malware.

The startup has filed for five patents in protocols, schemes, and hardware design and augmented it with more than 10 trade secrets, giving it an edge over other competitors globally.

The 100 percent randomness of the keys eliminates any bias or prediction of the keys, offering secure data transmission even in the presence of a man-in-the-middle using Quantum One-Time-Pads. It also offers an easy and seamless upgrade of existing crypto infrastructure to quantum safe crypto in a matter of a few days, without wastage of existing investments and no change in the network with no disruption in the business or learning curve for the clients.

Meet the founders

QNu Labs was incubated in 2016 at IIT-Madras. The four founders, all connected through a set of common friends, are scientists and technocrats, each with more than three decades of corporate experience. The startup was born with the intention of protecting national secrets, but the larger inspiration was for an Indian company to build a next-gen trusted platform, a future hyper-connected digital world where privacy and confidentiality of data will be at the premium. The team of four set out to usher in a new paradigm in data security using photon light particles. Interestingly, QNu’s founding team has taken two companies to IPO and has done three exits as part of the leadership team of those companies.

Srinivasa Rao Aluri, Co-founder and Chairman, brings with him over 20 years of organisational building and corporate experience in India, UK, and USA. An investor banker for the last two decades, Srinivasa is a graduate of BITS, Pilani and a Sloan Fellow from the London Business School.

Sunil Gupta, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, is responsible to build the vision, strategy of the company and create a highly passionate team of ‘EnterpreNerds’. He has vast experience in leading R&D and product development, and is obsessed with new technologies and has successfully taken products and solutions in several cutting-edge technologies to market.

Mark Mathias, Co-founder and Head of Production, holds a B.Tech in Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering from IIT Madras Chennai, India, and an MS in Computer Engineering from the University of Maryland College Park, USA (1979). He has over 35 years of experience in Electronic Product Design.

Dr Anil Prabhakar, Co-founder, received his Ph.D. in 1997 from Carnegie Mellon University, with a dissertation on Nonlinear Spin-wave Optical Interactions. He has been a faculty at the Dept of Electrical Engineering, IIT-Madras since 2002 with current research interests in the areas of photonics, magnonics, bio-engineering, and assistive technologies.

How the Intel Startup Program powered QNu’s growth journey

“Despite our unique products in cutting-edge quantum technology, the enterprise market was not ready to embrace the radical tech such as quantum key distribution. Intel played a key role in pushing us to look beyond quantum key distribution to come up with more flexible and cloud-based offerings,“ says Sunil, talking about how the Intel Startup Program helped QNu pivot and refine their product-market fit.

“The Intel Startup Program offered some of the best tech and business leaders to mentor and validate our offerings, and also helped refine our product-market fit to be more consumable and attractive for clients,” he adds.

The Intel Startup Program: enabling startups to scale their game-changing innovations

The Intel Startup Program is Intel India’s flagship program to engage with technology startups which have an IP or innovative solutions that have the potential to create impact on customers and align with Intel's focus areas. The program is at the forefront of engaging with India’s startup ecosystem through high-impact collaborations with the industry, academia, and government and runs multiple initiatives that are either vertically aligned or focused on emerging technologies.

It engages with startups that have a unique global or local value proposition to solve genuine customer problems, enabling them with domain and business expertise from the industry and mentorship from Intel.

For more details visit: https://www.intel.in/startup-program


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