Anonybit has raised an additional $3 million in funding, bringing the startup’s total to $8 million. The seed extension round was led by JAM FINTOP, a collaborative venture between Jacobs Asset Management and FINTOP Capital, with participation from Connecticut Innovations, the state’s strategic venture capital arm.
It’s the latest sign of excitement about Anonybit’s flagship platform, Anonybit Genie, which revolves around the use of decentralized biometrics for the authentication of end users. The platform got its start just a couple of years ago, when Anonybit launched an SDK focused on breaking down biometric templates into distinct shards that could be stored separately across discrete servers. The concept offered a means of protecting sensitive biometric data by ensuring that no one server breach could compromise meaningful data.
It’s an innovative approach pioneered by a pair of industry experts. Co-founder and CEO Frances Zelazny, a former executive with the behavioral biometrics trailblazer BioCatch, built the startup together with Chief Architect Yaron Azizi, an alumnus of the Israel Defense Force’s 8200 unit and the architect of both the BioCatch platform and Tapingo, an online ordering platform that was acquired by Grubhub.
“We have been impressed by the Anonybit team’s deep industry experience, as well as the company’s traction with identity verification providers and other industry partners that service banks,” said JAM FINTOP Managing Partner Ryan Zacharia.
On that note, Anonybit has established important partnerships with other major players in the identity industry including 1Kosmos, AuthenticID, Rank One Computing, and Ping Identity, testifying to the startup’s compelling solution.
Anonybit has been making the case for its decentralized approach to biometrics amid a rising trend of identity fraud, highlighting its unique advantages over the centralized storage of credentials. As Zelazny explains, “Personal data is stored in central honeypots that are impossible to protect and we allow the use of this data to authenticate ourselves,” leading to “a never-ending cycle” of fraud.
It’s a problem that extends even to the fast-emerging authentication tool called “passkeys”, which are designed to store unique cryptographic credentials on a user’s personal device (ie. their smartphone), locked behind biometric authentication. In a recent blog post, Zelazny acknowledged passkeys as “a major step in the right direction” in terms of post-password authentication, but noted that they don’t solve for the centralized storage of sensitive data on the part of cloud providers.
That’s because the tech giants working to enable passkeys, such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft, have set up a system to store back-up versions of users’ passkey credentials so that users can set up passkeys on a new device whenever they want. As Zelazny explains, “this means that if an attacker can gain access to a person’s Google/Apple/Microsoft credentials – they can regenerate a person’s authentication keys on their own device and access all their accounts.”
In effect, the passkey system does not verify the end user, but rather their account and device. A fraudster who gets access to their account can set up a new device, and pass off their own biometrics as those of the rightful account holder.
With its additional funding in place, Anonybit is now in an even better position to pitch a superior solution that supports the use of biometric authentication while keeping such data fully secure. “This funding round validates our vision and gives us the resources to propel the next stage of our growth and deliver on the promise of privacy and security with no tradeoffs,” asserted Zelazny.
The funding arrives alongside additional expertise for Anonybit’s leadership team. Limor Elbaz, who founded the cybersecurity network Peerlyst and served as its CEO from 2011 to 2019, is Anonybit’s new Chief Revenue Officer; and Al Pascual, the former Javelin Research analyst and co-founder of Breach Clarity (now part of TransUnion), has joined Anonybit’s Advisory Board.
(Originally published on FindBiometrics)