In this week’s episode, #142: we continue our series on Life after Passwords: the Future of Online Identity as we are joined by Ophir Gaathon, the CEO of the firm Dust Identity.
When the news outlet Bloomberg reported late last year that Super Micro, a US based maker of server motherboards, had been the victim of a hack, it sent both the technology and national security sectors into a frenzy. The alleged attack snuck a surreptitious monitoring chip onto Super Micro motherboards used by the likes of Amazon and Apple and sent Super Micro’s stock tumbling.
The facts of the Bloomberg story were strenuously denied by both the company and its customers, including Amazon and Apple Computer, not to mention the US DHS and the UK’s GCHQ. In the intervening months, Bloomberg’s reporters and editors have stuck by their reporting and the issue has largely faded from the headlines. Super Micro’s stock, after falling sharply, has recovered nicely.
So did the Super Micro hack happen or not?
The answer may be irrelevant. That’s because while the specific hack Bloomberg described may or may not have happened in the way it was described, the potential for such a supply chain compromise clearly exists. Malicious or compromised hardware components, integrated into sensitive equipment, has long been the domain of ultra sophisticated nation-state intelligence operations. But these days, the culprits could include cyber criminal groups, disgruntled employees or competitors. Alas, our ability to monitor and secure complex supply chains lags – mostly because it is difficult to establish and track identities across such a vast population of components.
Our guest this week thinks he has a solution to that problem. Ophir Gaathon is the CEO of Dust Identity, a start up that emerged from the Department of Defense’s DARPA program with a way to use diamond dust to create immutable identities for a wide range of commercial and industrial applications. Establishing a strong, trusted physical identity is the critical element that underlies a wide range of modern problems related to identity and security.
Dust Identity emerged from stealth mode in November with a $2.3 million investment led by Kleiner Perkins. In this conversation, I start by asking Ophir to describe the origins of Dust Identity and where he got the idea to use diamond dust to create a strong identity.