Biometric security startup Keyless raises $2.2M for encrypted data solution

London-based biometric authentication and identity management company Keyless has secured $2.2 million in pre-seed funding to create a biometric authentication solution that replaces weak authentication methods such as passwords, secret answers and recovery phrases, in an effort to fend off cyberattacks, the company announced.

The top pre-seed round investor is blockchain venture capital firm gumi Cryptos Capital. Other funds came from Ripple’s Xpring, Blockchain Valley Ventures, and LuneX, among others.

“During our technical review, we found Keyless’ solution to be clever and well thought out,” Xpring Senior VP Ethan Beard told Coindesk. “We believe Keyless’ solution will be particularly welcomed by wallet providers and exchanges to accelerate the verification process for crypto holders.”

“Due to their complexity, passwords have become the weakest means of authentication. Not only are billions compromised in breaches every year, hackers are now also figuring out how to bypass two-factor authentication systems that rely in-part on something the user knows – like passwords and recovery phrases,” said Keyless Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Carmignani.

According to Keyless’ Co-founder and Head of Research Giuseppe Ateniese, the startup’s goal is to solve the problem of online authentication and identity management by integrating privacy-preserving cryptography and biometric authentication.

The company’s CTO, Paolo Gasti, further emphasized the important of not storing biometric data on centralized servers which are often the target for data breaches. Keyless claims to be the first to safeguard data privacy by integrating biometrics with multi-party computation (sMPC) which privately and securely distributes and reconstructs encrypted data. Keyless users can split up encrypted parts of biometric face, voice, or fingerprint data between nodes run by the user and companies on the Keyless network, according to Coindesk.

“We don’t want the network to spy on user biometrics,” said Gasti. “This way the authentication happens right there and wasn’t just a session replay of a previous authentication.”

He further explains these techniques are innovative, as they “were once computationally impossible” and will prevent the biometric profile from being lost or stolen in cloud, mobile or internet-of-things environments. Gasti claims Keyless’ speed of authentication is under 100 milliseconds, compared to previous experiment results in the range of 20 to 30 seconds.

Beta testing rounds have ended, and the company has already successfully integrated the technology with two crypto wallets for its the Keyless Authenticator. The mobile and desktop authentication platform is compliant with the European Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) regulations effective next year.

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