As part of the “StartUpSecure” initiative, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has been funding the Bonn-based company for one year since June 2023. Identeco was founded in 2020 by Dr. Matthias Wübbeling and Prof. Dr. Michael Meier. The startup protects companies and accounts of customers and employees in the B2B sector from account takeovers.
The two founders know each other through their work at the University of Bonn and conducted research together between 2017 and 2020 on a BMBF project, whereby their subjects first encouraged the results to be made available as a service. Matthias Wübbeling did his PhD at the University of Bonn and Michael Meier holds the Chair of IT Security at the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Bonn and is head of the Cyber Security Department at Fraunhofer FKIE. In an interview with Cube 5, Matthias Wübbeling answered five questions for us.
How do you secure more than 100 million accounts from being taken over by criminals?
Actually, we help our clients to protect their accounts. These are usually accounts on online platforms such as social media, shops or layalty programmes. We search the depths of the internet for users’ login data. These are exchanged and traded there and then misused by criminals for attacks. After analysis by our systems, our customers can then effectively prevent abuse within their own infrastructure and thus provide a secure platform for consumers. This ensures trust in the platform and strengthens the loyalty of our customers.
What differences did you notice from science to business?
Companies often have different requirements for services for a demonstrator or a proof-of-principle in research. We had to completely redevelop the entire framework – our analysis pipeline, the backend software and the appliance – for our buyers in order to meet the high security requirements of our clientele.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
We are all computer scientists. This means that we know our solution very well and do good work, but selling it to international companies and corporations is a very different business. Here we had to learn two things in particular: “Companies don’t always buy the best product on the market” and “We don’t have to sell a product by our performance alone, but also by our company name”. Today, Identeco itself is a good brand in the IT security market. A good three years after our founding, we have many regular customers, some of whom have been with us since the beginning and continue to renew our services and book additional services.
In which area of your business will the funding be particularly helpful?
The funding flows primarily into development. As providers in the IT security sector, we must have a secure software environment ourselves. We need performant infrastructures – after all, we have more than 30 billion entries in our database, which is searched several hundred times a day – and we have to invest in education and documentation for our customers and consumers. In addition, we are still looking for more test subjects for our products. Since leaked login data poses a massive threat to all industries and sectors, but different requirements exist in each industry, we still have many requirements to collect and implement so that we can soon protect all accounts in companies and on platforms.
How can Cube 5 continue to support you in the future?
Cube 5 supported us very well from the very beginning. From the first sketch of request to the final application. Many thanks at this point. And it doesn’t stop after the application. Through Cube 5, we are part of the SpeedUpSecure Accelerator, where we receive a lot of valuable input for our business development. In addition, we were recently guests at the Cube 5 stand at Digital Demo Day in Düsseldorf for the second time and are always in contact with potential customers via the Cube 5 network.