2020-Taken identity

Taken identity

Wed, 04 Nov 2020 13:06:00 GMT
Dr Omair Uthmani
Dr Omair Uthmani

A University academic who helped create an information sharing system as part of his PhD, has now seen the resultant spinout company acquired by a major US cyber-security organisation.

Dr Omair Uthmani, from the School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment, had helped devise a way of sharing trusted information for law enforcement applications while studying at Edinburgh Napier University.

He explained: "The basic concept was to use credentials from one system to help authorise you in another. It's like if you've logged into your Google or Facebook account, you can share information based on these credentials.

"Since Google and Facebook are trustworthy in verifying who you are online, other services can leverage that trust and provide services without having to create expensive, trustworthy authorisation mechanisms of their own."

Dr Uthmani was part of a core development team during his PhD, which included Dr Lu Fan and project lead Professor Bill Buchanan, and was funded by SIPR and Edinburgh Napier.

The team launched the product to market as safi.re - funded by EPSRC, Scottish Enterprise, SIPR, and Innovation UK - which then became Symphonic Software, and it has now been acquired by the Colorado-based cyber-security software giant Ping Identity Corporation.

Dr Uthmani said: "Since more and more work is now online, especially because of COVID, there is greater emphasis on knowing who someone is online. Ping Identity provides solutions in this area, and they do them well. I'm happy to watch from afar as to how they take the team’s idea to the next level. It gives me huge professional satisfaction in seeing something that we had to struggle hard to get going, now doing so well.

"I think we should recognise the big effects our little ideas can have. Most importantly, I feel so proud that we in Scotland, as a small nation, punch so much above our weight. GCU already does so well in fostering the many little ideas we have in our student and faculty family. I would just like to play my part in helping to take this to the next level."