CryptoLab, a company specializing in cryptographic technology, attracted an investment of about 21 billion won ($16 million). CryptoLab developed the original technology for homomorphic encryption ”CKKS”, the fourth-generation encryption technology, and ”HEaaN”, a product implemented based on it. This is the first domestic case in which mathematical theory has been developed as a commercial technology. It is also the first startup incubated by the Seoul National University Industrial Mathematics Center.
The latest investment round was led by Stonebridge Ventures, and leading domestic and foreign venture capitals such as Altos Ventures, and Kiwoom Investment participated. It is the first investment received by CryptoLab in 10 months after attracting investment from LG U+, Solid Co., Ltd., and SJ Investment Partners last year.
CryptoLab is a startup that holds the original patent for homomorphic encryption technology, founded in 2017 by Professor Jeonghee Cheon of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Seoul National University. Homomorphic encryption is a fourth-generation encryption technology that analyzes data in a state in which customer information is encrypted. Existing encryption technology risks data leakage due to hacker intrusion during the decryption stage for analysis. CryptoLab has developed a homogeneous encryption system that mathematically solves this problem, supports the first real number operation, and can process sensitive personal information in an encrypted state.
CryptoLab is also recognized for its technological excellence in the industry. LG U+ and quantum-resistant cryptography-related businesses Samsung Electronics and Naver Cloud are conducting cooperative cryptography-related projects.
In 2020, in cooperation with the National Pension Service and the Korea Credit Bureau (KCB), the startup built a ”data statistical model that highly evaluates the credit of those who paid the National Pension Service”, making the world’s first case of homomorphic encryption commercialization. In addition, in the innovative technology report released in November 2021 by Gartner, an IT market research institute, for the first time, CryptoLab was selected as the only domestic sample vendor for homogeneous encryption technology among a total of seven companies, including Microsoft (MS) and IBM. In February 2022, an HEaaN licensing agreement was signed with IBM.
CryptoLab technology to support stricter global data laws
Global data laws such as Europe’sEurope’s General Data Protection Act (GDPR) and California’s Personal Information Protection Act (CCPA) are becoming stricter and the importance of related technologies is emerging. In Korea, data encryption technology is also attracting attention with the passage of the Data 3 Act. Pseudonymization, anonymization and data fragmentation are also used, but the risk of data loss and re-identification is high. Accordingly, the advancement of homomorphic encryption technology is expected to be utilized in all areas where data security is important, from medical and finance to blockchain and quantum computing.
CryptoLab CEO Cheon Jeong-hee said, “Through this investment, CryptoLab has advanced the homomorphic encryption and the world’s only homomorphic math library, which is 90 times that of the open source Microsoft SEAL. We will make it to the level of a ”super-gap”.”
Dong-Yeol Choi, Partner of Stonebridge Ventures, who led this investment, said, “In the era of digital transformation where the rapid development of IT technologies such as semiconductors and artificial intelligence and the convergence between industries deepen, the importance of data security has emerged as a global concern beyond the domestic industry. Accordingly, the need for homomorphic encryption, a next-generation security technology that can fundamentally protect data, is rapidly expanding. The homomorphic encryption source technology and patents owned by Seoul National University Professor Cheon Jeong-hee and CryptoLab are leading the world standards. It went beyond the development stage, entered the commercialization stage and started service at IBM, so great business results are expected in the near future. So we decided to make a large-scale follow-up investment this time.”
Han-Jun Kim, CEO of Altos Ventures, said, “As the cryptographic technology development capability that can safely analyze vast amounts of data accumulated in medical care and finance without information leakage increases, interest in leading global standards throughout the industry is heightened. Professor Cheon Jeong-hee and Crypto Lab members are considered world-class scholars. Still, at the same time, they have the aspect of a founder who thinks and solves problems to realize the original technology as valuable software. Although it started in Korea, I decided to make this investment because I felt it was a team that could create a global standard.”