There’s a glut of different password managers on the market now, but they all have one thing in common: They’re all based in the cloud. For Frederik Derksen, co-founder and CEO of the Netherlands’ Vaulteq, this didn’t instill much confidence in the system for safeguarding access to his online accounts. As a result he and his co-founder have developed the first “physical password manager.”
Vaulteq is a small mini-server that you plug into your router and, via its accompanying app, allows the user to access their passwords as well as other protected sensitive data at home. The hardware, like traditional managers, generates and remembers your passwords.
The concept is modeled after the idea of having an old safe in your home to keep documents protected, but for your digital life.
Keeping data out of the cloud and physically in your home sounds like an interesting approach to data security, but what about when you need to access this data when you’re on the go?
“We have a patent-pending system for that,” Derksen said. “It works like old switchboard technology, like with phones, where you can anonymously access your Vaulteq from wherever you are. You have your own little server at home, but even if you are at work or anywhere else you can access via the app or browser extension and access all of your data.”
Vaulteq uses AES-256 encryption and the encrypted data can be backed up and saved, he said, which the startup believes will alleviate concerns over the Vaulteq server ever being lost or stolen. “If that happens, the data is encrypted so it will be extremely difficult to get your data out of the Vaulteq.”
“I’m not saying any other password managers are not safe and secure,” he said. [The cloud] is quite an attractive place for hackers because there’s a lot of data stored in one place and you have no control over it yourself.”
The startup is running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to produce the Vaulteq for market following a successful prototype. It is looking for $50,000. The hardware costs $99 along with funding perks including the standard model of the device for accessing your data at home and a premium subscription for accessing it on the go as well. If successful by the end of March, the Vaulteq mini-servers will ship in July.
Everyone’s looking for the next frontier in password security, such as password managers or biometric logins so that we can forget about old and unreliable passwords. The cloud is so ubiquitous now, so it’s unlikely that Vaulteq could appeal to users that aren’t a little more hard-line when it comes to security, but generating more products and services like this is what could actually change that.