Secure data management in the cloud

The CyberDesk start-up team with the two founders Tobias Lieberum and Prabhakar
The CyberDesk start-up team with the two founders Tobias Lieberum and Prabhakar Mishra.

In an increasingly digitalized world, where vast quantities of data are stored in the cloud, the security of sensitive information is a central challenge. It is easy to lose track of where confidential information is uploaded, who has access rights and what risks are entailed. The team at CyberDesk, a start-up established at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), wants to change this. They have developed a software to support companies in managing data securely in cloud solutions and make it easier for users to keep track of them.

When Prabhakar Mishra and Dr. Tobias Lieberum first met, they quickly realized that they had something in common: they were both interested in launching a company dedicated to the problem of data security in the cloud. It was an issue that each of them had faced over and over. Prabhakar Mishra completed his informatics degree in India and then spent several years working for major banks. After studying business administration, Tobias Lieberum worked as a consultant before earning a doctorate at the TUM School of Management.

"The analytical methods that I developed for my doctorate at the Chair of Operations Management also work very well in data security. Ultimately, it’s all about analyzing large data sets in terms of human behavior," says Tobias Lieberum.

From the idea to a start-up

The two founders contacted the Start-up Advisory Office at TUM. To help turn their idea into a business, they actually received support from two different TUM Venture Labs: the Legal Tech Colab and Venture Lab Software & AI. The TUM Venture Labs offer start-up teams direct contacts to leading-edge research, experts with an in-depth understanding of the specific market, technical infrastructure and access to global networks of companies and investors. The founders also participated in such offerings as XPRENEURS, an incubation program provided by UnternehmerTUM, which supports high-tech start-ups in the early stages as they prepare for a market launch.

Data protection through artificial intelligence

The team provides its software to companies under a software-as-a-service model. In a first step, the software generates a map showing locations of all sensitive data currently stored by the company in cloud solutions. In addition, ongoing monitoring is carried out to check who has access to the data and assess the resulting risks at the data level. "A lot of sensitive information such as email addresses, health data or account details, exists in every company and is identified by the standard functions of our software. The big challenge comes from the fact that sensitive information can also vary considerably from one company to another. So with our software, companies must be able to identify specific data needing protection and context-specific access rights and to secure them accordingly," says Prabhakar Mishra.

Using the many start-up support opportunities available at TUM in recent weeks and months, the founders were able to get a stable beta version of their software up and running. Since then they have served their first pilot customers and collected feedback and suggestions. With that phase completed, CyberDesk was recently launched on the market. Big changes have also taken place in the highly international and interdisciplinary team, which now has 10 members.

Both founders are certain of their long-term goal: "We want to become the European champion in cloud-based data security. The market is now dominated mainly by US providers. But we have seen that many of our customers prefer European providers due to legal standards and internal requirements. We’re trying to fill a market gap," says Tobias Lieberum.