OverNest, a startup that was launched just over a year ago by several technology industry veterans, announced its first product, called GitZero, today at the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield competition in Brooklyn, NY — and it’s a pretty exciting product that makes encrypted code searchable.
It’s widely known that you should be encrypting your data. It prevents prying eyes from seeing your valuable intellectual property as it moves on the Internet, but it comes with its own set of problems, especially for developers who can’t really work on their code once it’s been encrypted. That’s where GitZero comes in: It lets developers encrypt their code and still be able to search across it, solving a huge technical problem.
When you look at the largest data breaches over the last couple of years — Sony, Target, JP Morgan or any high profile hack — the data would have been entirely useless to the hackers if it had been encrypted, OverNest founder and CEO Ed Yu told TechCrunch.
“Encryption solves most of the problems associated with hacking, but then you lose the ability to work with data,” he said. Essentially, encryption works to stop the hackers, but also makes it impossible for the people who want legitimate access to work with the content because, up until now, you couldn’t work on or search across it in an encrypted state.
OverNest has solved this conundrum by making encrypted data searchable. The trick here is you need a search key in the same manner you need an encryption key to encrypt and unencrypt the data. That keeps the data safe and secure in its encrypted state, but gives authorized users a way in to search across the data set.
While OverNest should get big points for solving an enormous technological problem that has persisted for years, they needed to wrap that solution around a product; hence, GitZero was born. It works in the same fashion that developers expect when adding code to a Git repository, but it enables them to create an encrypted, searchable repository, thereby keeping it secure, but accessible.
The GitZero repository acts like a layer on top of Git, giving users that searchable encryption, while still using a standard Git command line interface to move the content into the newly created repository. When a user uploads source to GitZero, it encrypts the files and builds a searchable index.
You enter your search key and you can see the encrypted files and search them.
What’s more, you can share search keys, using familiar encryption key managers, or for those organizations that don’t want to take the responsibility of managing their own keys, GitZero will manage the encryption and search keys for you.
It’s not easy for a technical solution like this to get the attention of venture capitalists (or contests like Battlefield) because the people in charge don’t always understand the nuances of this type of solution. In fact, Yu joked, if someone didn’t question the viability of his solution, he would wonder if they truly understood the magnitude of what they are doing here.
“One thing that’s pretty interesting is that as we move to the age of AI, the source code is going to contain even more intellectual property as the code now will be the ‘brain’ of that AI. It’s amazing people think a private [repository] from all existing source code cloud hosting will protect their code,” Yu said.
In fact, if it’s not encrypted, it’s not protected, but now with GitZero, developers can have the best of all worlds.
The company launched in March, 2015 with Yu and co-founders Paul Lung and Michael Lai. It has received a million dollars in seed funding.