The team

Our focus is making modern security accessible, for both developers and their users

Profile picture of Reid Barton

Reid Barton

  • Georgia Tech M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering 2021
  • Georgia Tech B.S. Electrical Engineering 2019
  • Software Engineer at Cisco (IoT networking and 5G)
  • Tools for Deep Learning in photonics at GT Photonics Research Group
Profile picture of Michael Brzozowski

Michael Brzozowski

  • Carnegie Mellon M.S. Computer Science 2021
  • Georgia Tech B.S. Computer Engineering 2019
  • Hardware Engineer at Bigstream
  • Research in Deep Learning acceleration at GT Alternative Computing Technologies Lab
Profile picture of Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

  • Georgia Tech B.S. Computer Engineering 2019
  • Software Engineer at Apple Special Projects Group
  • IT at SpaceX
  • 8+ years web development and DevOps
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The story

While working as a solo developer for a small educational technologies company, Mike encountered a fundamental issue: how could he protect the sensitive student data he managed against a breach, either malicious or accidental? The obvious solution was to uniquely encrypt each user's data with something only the individual user has, typically derived from the user's password (also known as end-to-end encryption). This method comes with a tradeoff, however, in that a user's data is irretrievably lost in the event that they lose their password; this was an unacceptable hit to the end-user experience, especially for his largely non-technical user base.

After extensive research, it became clear that there was no viable solution to help solve this critical issue — existing approaches provided either near-perfect security (end-to-end encryption) or a familiar user experience (traditional password resets), but each side came at the cost of the other. So, Mike setout to build a solution that addressed both needs in tandem, spawning the idea that eventually became Bunkyr.

What emerged was a novel security primitive that could solve not only the problems that Mike faced, but a whole host of related use-cases plagued by this security-usability tradeoff. A significant number of companies faced with the same choice naturally opt for usability over security (after all, usability is what sells products!), but as a result many inevitably end up actually losing customers in the long run when they suffer a major data breach. Had Bunkyr existed when Mike was still working at his EdTech job, it would have gracefully handled the exact scenario he was facing and given him the confidence to encrypt his users' data, knowing it could always be recovered (by the users, and only them) if they forgot their password. Importantly, users would not be asked to store paper recovery codes and bear the associated hassle and risk that comes with them.

The idea was first put to the test as a Georgia Tech capstone design project, where the team originally formed and began developing a prototype. We were awarded "Best Project in Electrical and Computer Engineering" in the Fall 2019 Georgia Tech Capstone Design Expo, as voted by a panel of academic and industry experts. In Spring 2021, after some additional industry and educational experience, we decided that this was too important of a problem and began full-time effort toward making Bunkyr a reality. Since then, we've been working on our commercial-grade cloud-based solution, as well as learning more about our target markets and receiving valuable feedback on our product development. We are working hard in building out our initial solution, and to help anyone from large enterprises to small developers like Mike easily protect their users' data while preserving familiar and intuitive user experiences.

Zero-Knowledge for everyone

Built in Denver, Colorado

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