Retruster founder Michael Snape.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When Michael Snape held the position as the CFO of a medium-sized company, he received what seemed like a routine email from his CEO, who was overseas at the time. The email instructed Snape to transfer money into a specific account. Money transfers in this manner were standard practice as a function of his role at the company.
He later queried the instruction with his CEO. Snape was met with a blank stare. The email was a fake and the money was gone.
“At the time I was in complete shock,” Snape recalls and says to The Jerusalem Post
. “Today it could be money stolen, tomorrow patient records, or customer data and the potential is very far reaching and equally damaging."
This kind of fraud is known in the tech world as “phishing”, it is the fraudulent sending of emails purporting to be from reputable companies and individuals in order to obtain personal information such as passwords or credit card details. When the attack is more targeted and advanced, it is known as “CEO fraud”, “Business Email Compromise” or “Spear phishing."
Snape says "People tend to trust their email services and their anti-virus tools, though there have been very few effective solutions to phishing problems like these." So Snape founded a company called Retruster which aims to be the solution to curb the billions of dollars of fraud generated by fake emails on a daily basis. He says "simply put, we aim to curb and combat this global phenomena."
How do these types of phishing attacks occur? Snape explains: “Basic methods of fraud take place through switching letters and numbers or adding onto an email address or simply choosing a similar-looking email address. From this type of simplicity, major fraud syndicates have developed much more sophisticated methods that achieve essentially the same result and are making it exponentially harder to pick up on the fraud for most conventional and even more advanced email services”.
"When you receive these types of fraudulent emails most will pass standard checks showing no spam, malware, or viruses." Snape further states "the danger lies rather in the mail and the content itself."
Using innovative biometric technology developed with former IDF Unit 8200 soldiers, Retruster allows senders and recipients of emails to authenticate messages using their mobile phones. The smart solution incorporates fingerprint, voice and facial recognition technology.
Snape's decision to move to Israel has lead him to connect to some of the smartest minds in the cyber security industry. He says "Israel is known as one of the global centers of cybersecurity which is dominated by alumni of the 8200 intelligence unit, Israeli cyber security exports for 2016 topped $3.5bn or 5% of the global market. These are the big reasons to start this process here in Israel."
"As an oleh (an immigrant) I see our role today as the new Israeli pioneers. In the past this role was reserved for toiling the land on the fields of kibbutzim. Today it’s driven by the motivation to work in the various fields of hi-tech.” Snape states his vision very clearly.
"Retruster is to become a platform for skilled olim and native Israelis to come together working on a shared vision to make the internet a safer place which will give a major contribution to our society and the world."
While he admits that some aspects of living and working in Israel are challenging, Snape says "overall it’s been beyond my expectations. People warned me about how tough the business climate here can be. Truth is, I think it’s tough anywhere.
"What fascinates me about Israel is that people feel the need to add their own opinion and show a real sincerity with their contributions. A feeling that your success is their own success too. In 2017, it's this uniqueness that makes this country a truly special place to live and do business in."