LockDown just added a sales director. Its customers include manufacturing, law enforcement and product development organizations.

Once data has been stored online, whether in a cloud-based file or exchanged via email, it may be vulnerable to hackers. Central Ohio company LockDown has developed a protective shield to guard against these attacks, both from modern technologies and, potentially, against the more sophisticated computers of the future.

“The company was founded based on an encryption that was built to provide quantum resistance,” CEO AJ Auld says. “Today’s encryption is mathematical-based. Our patented solution is both mathematical and random data-based.”

We're here to help you stay in touch with what's going on out there. Read our latest reporting on the coronavirus response here.

To protect sets of information, the encryption needs to be as difficult as possible to crack. Think of LockDown’s technology like a puzzle. “It’d be like taking your puzzle and shredding it into very small pieces. Then add a random set of other puzzles that have also been shredded,” Auld says. “Throw them all in the same area and then try to figure out which ones belong to your puzzle.”

Founder and chief investor Randy Wilcox, a Columbus real estate developer, was inspired to launch LockDown after meeting the engineers who developed the encryption software. “These guys had figured out how to do encryption much better than anyone else. As quantum computing becomes available, all of the things encrypted with current technology could be broken. We think our product wouldn’t be included in that category.”

At this stage, LockDown does not make any promises about whether it could withstand an attack from a quantum computer because quantum is not yet here. The technology is still in the research phase.

In the meantime, LockDown is focused on guarding data in a “zero knowledge, zero trust” environment. The LockDown consumer product is a messaging platform in which the user has control over how their data is used, even when sharing it with others. Once the partner no longer needs your information, you can revoke all access to it.

LockDown users rely on three-factor authentication to access the system and there are no passwords, which are frequently the target in phishing attacks.

Such attacks are among the most common security risks companies face. According to the FBI, compromised business email accounts cost American companies $1.7 billion in 2019. Steve Swick, chief security officer for AEP, says employees routinely receive hoax emails from compromised accounts. “We coach our employees [about] what to click on and make sure they understand what a phishing email looks like,” Swick says. “A decade ago, we could protect people from themselves. We could put in controls. Today, everybody is exposed. They can click on things we can’t stop.” Swick adds multi-factor authentication significantly mitigates the risk of being hacked.

Stay up to date with the region’s business scene. Subscribe to Columbus CEO’s weekly newsletter.

LockDown aims to reduce risk further by building additional layers of protection. Each message inside of a chat is individually encrypted. Auld compares it to a secured bank vault. “Every single jewel is in its own separate safe with a separate key.”

LockDown customers include manufacturing and product development companies, law enforcement agencies and legal entities. Auld says health care companies also have expressed interest in the encryption software.

The company reported $2.75 million in angel investment as of February 2019, but declined to share financial information beyond that.

Erin Laviola is a freelance writer.