Marketplace: Park City-based 7Tunnels cracks the code
As he has watched news break seemingly every day in recent weeks about high-profile cyberattacks, David Wiener has come to the conclusion that he is in a particularly unique position.
There was the theft of Democratic National Committee emails that sent the political world into a frenzy. The potential hack early this week of the National Security Agency has government officials concerned. Countless other smaller attacks have also made national headlines.
But what makes the string of cyberattacks interesting for Wiener is this: He and his colleagues could stand to profit immensely from the increasing threat hackers present. He is the president and CEO of 7Tunnels, a Park City-based tech company that has developed encryption tools it claims are unbreakable.
“Every day, the team is sending each other headlines and articles of the day of the latest hack or security issue,” he said. “For me, we sit there and say, ‘Oh my god.’ Every single day reinforces how critical our product is.”
The technology 7Tunnels created is based on the concept that encryption that uses completely random numbers cannot be hacked. Most encryption tools, Wiener said, are based on intricate math problems churned out by computers. While complex, those problems have solutions — and modern computing can crack them. 7Tunnels’ technology, however, uses something called a true random number generator to convert random phenomena in nature into sequences of numbers.
Those numbers, which are several digits long, are then attached to each data bit, Wiener said. An entire file of data is encrypted with millions or even billions of numbers, and since the sequences are truly random, computers can’t discern patterns to crack the codes — because there are none.
Furthermore, Wiener claimed, the technology is future-proof. Even quantum computers, which are seen as the next giant leap forward in the field of computing, will be useless against them, he said. No amount of computing power can find patterns where none exist.
“It’s physically impossible to break that code,” he said. “Eventually, all the encryption that exists right now is going to be hacked because quantum computers will be able to do that. But our technology, you could have 20 quantum computers, but you still can’t hack it.”
Wiener, who does not have a background in encryption, is quick to defer credit for the development of the technology. He said the team behind 7Tunnels’ encryption tools comprises some of the brightest minds in the field, including a handful of Summit County residents. Prominent Parkites Kevin McCarthy and Tore Steen are the chief operating officer and chairman, respectively, while other residents Colin DeFord and Frank Furr are also involved.
“We have some amazing engineers and some amazing Washington insiders and experts, guys who, almost all of them, have military background or some government background,” Wiener said. “We’re not focused solely on military and government for our technology, but these people are just amazing — their talents, their connections, their ideas. It’s an honor to work with these people.”
Those involved with the company have lofty visions for the future. They see the technology as something that entities ranging from local and national governmental agencies to defense contractors to tech behemoths, such as Apple or Google, will be clamoring for, especially as the threat of cyber hackers becomes magnified. The aim, Wiener said, is to build 7Tunnels quickly, then sell the company to a major player in a year or two.
Those ambitions have been affirmed, Wiener said, by a pair of successful investing rounds. He said they proved that business people recognize the opportunity 7Tunnels presents. It’s the same potential Wiener saw when he decided to join the business.
“For me, I’m always intrigued by business and new opportunities and technology,” he said. “I like the idea of this technology and the idea of how big it could be. Let’s face it — when you’re creating businesses, the idea of creating a truly huge business is intriguing. And true, secure encryption is so important that it’s almost hard to imagine how big it could be.”
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The Park City Chamber/Bureau on Tuesday honored Bob Wheaton, the longtime leader of Deer Valley Resort, with its annual Myles Rademan Spirit of Hospitality Award. Wheaton joins a long list of prominent Park City figures who have won the award.