In times like these when data breach is the talk of the town, online presence leaves everyone prone to attacks and privacy breaches. The tech community has been long distributing data to improve direct traffic their way online.
Users must understand what happens to their data once they are online. Our digital footprint is growing rapidly as biometric databases from our phones are fetched to identify us, our web browsing tracked, cameras too track our movements and connected devices become integrated into our lives.
Netlok LLC was founded by Tony Perez in 2017 as his passion to preserve privacy and security online compelled him to do something about it. Tony felt that replacing passwords with photos would bring a disruptive change in how security is viewed online. Netlok has worked hard for the last year to make their solution human-centric.
In Conversation with Tony Perez, Founder
What was the inspiration behind you starting Netlok?
In the summer of 2014, I had a heated conversation about internet privacy with my millennial daughter who lives in San Francisco and works as a UX designer in start-ups. In response to that conversation, I researched the online issues regarding privacy and found that most users were worried about privacy but felt helpless to do anything about it. My research eventually made me realize that passwords were failing to solve the security problem because of poor user password discipline, too many passwords, and painful special password rules. So I began my research on replacing passwords with pictures. Sensing an opportunity, I looked for software engineers who understood the manipulation of graphics so that you could embed a secret code in a photo. In October 2014, we programmed and effectively demonstrated the concept. I conducted a patent research and found very little intellectual property in the area, so I submitted my provisional patent. The patent was issued in July 2017.
What was your first project? And how did you expand your offerings?
The initial product concept was the Photolok authentication and it intrigued the professionals we call prosumers – that is, users who had the need for a cyber solution and are willing to provide honest feedback. Their feedback led to development of a personal cyber vault, the Netlokr, which provides private messaging and secure file management and sharing.
What are the products/services that bring most innovativeness out of your company?
Photolok is a game-changer because it provides very agile security protection while making a personal connection to the user for situational security as well as create photo-based branding opportunities. For situational security, the user labels a photo as “Duress” and it acts like a silent alarm. For photo-base branding, we allow a company use photos that support their brand either in a company intranet system or to build a fan club.
What is your approach of empowering employees to be more creative?
The first step is to listen and take their ideas seriously. An employee can tell the difference and appreciate being taken seriously. The second step is to explain why the idea is worthwhile to pursue and whether or not it will be acted upon. If you tell them that you will act on it, we let them participate. And, third, give them credit for the idea, especially if it is a success.
How do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and hold their trust & loyalty?
As a password replacement product, client education is a key component to our success. Our goal is to build an excellent client experience group that will help new clients onboard and keep them educated about best security practices. We are making photos personal, so it makes sense that we offer a human touch in the customer experience.
What are your future business ventures?
Since passwords are ubiquitous, this venture could very much outlive me. Therefore, it’s not time to contemplate this question until we succeed with Netlok.
How have you inculcated technology to better your services?
We listen to service providers. Once you enter the cybersecurity community, you learn very quickly that no company can be successful without third-party help. In many respects, the cyber community understands that we are fighting a common enemy – both public and private cybercriminals. Therefore, in the long run, we have to work together by sharing knowledge and lending a helping hand when appropriate.
Where do you visualize your company in a couple of years?
Gaining industry adoption and having fun with photos and the stories they create.
Meet the Visionary
Tony Perez, Founder and CEO of Netlok
Mr. Perez is an inventor, serial entrepreneur and a C-suite executive with experience in electronic hardware and software management. Previously, he developed an original concept of his into an operating company called Safety Syringes Inc. At Safety Syringes he developed a suite of safety medical devices that received 10 US patents and FDA approval. In 2012, Safety Syringes was sold.
Mr. Perez continually studies trends and was intrigued by cyber technology. His concerns adhering to security and privacy online grew with time. He created Netlok to address these concerns after submitting his patent in 2014. He is known to have a great voice when it comes to cybersecurity and online privacy. His TEDx talk “Black Hats Rising” had a great reception.
“Netlok replaces passwords with photos and a superior security system.”
“Since passwords are ubiquitous, this venture could very well outlive me and several of our key personal.”