Q&A With Alan Hui, CEO of izzbie

After obtaining an aerospace engineering degree from UCLA, Alan Hui worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the Mars Rover program as a mechanical engineer. He then went on to found several startups in the e-commerce industry. Currently, he is the CEO and co-founder of izzbie, the maker of a cutting-edge device that allows users to set up and host a virtual private network using their own internet service from anywhere in the world without relying on third-party proxy servers. The company plans a Kickstarter launch in June.

I spoke recently with Alan and asked him to explain how izzbie works and why he feels it will revolutionize the way we approach private data security.

You announced at CES in Las Vegas the izzbie ONE, a device that allows individuals and businesses to remotely access their home and office network in a secure environment. How does it work?

izzbie ONE is a device that connects to your internet router at home or in the office. You simply use the Ethernet cable provided with the kit to connect and then izzbie ONE offers a gateway for your devices to connect to your network remotely through our izzbie app. You then access private data or hardware — NAS, servers, surveillance cameras, and so forth — and since your connection is virtually inside the home network, you can host and control many things at your home or office without having to rely on a third-party cloud provider or other similar services. This makes all the activities completely private. In addition to enhanced privacy, data transfer is a lot faster and more stable. Also, because izzbie encrypts user data with AES 256 bit technology, it will prevent your data from being scrutinized by others when logging on from inauspicious locations.

Cybersecurity and data hacking are on everyone’s minds. How will izzbie ONE help keep our data and our privacy secure?

Because we now have internet access from just about anywhere, people tend to move around a lot and surf the web from any location. Most apps and services that we use on a regular basis consistently access the internet without us even paying attention. This leaves lots of room for somebody to exploit our data and privacy. Connecting to izzbie ONE establishes end-to-end encryption to protect all information exchanged between the user’s devices and the Internet Service Provider. You can connect to it as long as there is a working internet connection, even in a foreign country. As a result, izzbie ONE can protect your privacy anytime, and from anywhere.  

Talk to us a little more about why it is important that users access their private network without going through third-party providers.

Whenever we let someone handle our data, we run the risk of being breached or our data and activities being monitored. Some cloud or VPN services may have stricter privacy policies than others, while some may be collecting some or all of your data, especially if you use a free service. In any case, even if the third party is very trustworthy and has an elaborate privacy policy, we can never be sure that they will not accidentally leak our data due to a security oversight.

We frequently hear news about personal data being breached and mishandled by trusted companies. The most recent and prominent one is the Cambridge Analytica scandal where the personal information of an estimated 50 million Facebook users was illegally harvested and misused. We would find many other similar cases in many industries and sectors. If prominent institutions such as Facebook and Apple cannot guarantee the safety of our privacy, one can only guess to what extent any third-party service can protect our data.

It is our belief that the only safe way to ensure your privacy is to keep your data on your own private network. This is what izzbie ONE is designed to do — to let you stay within your private network, so your information never leaves the privacy of your system. Through izzbie ONE, users can invite only the people whom they want to share data with into their network. Data exchanges are kept confidential between the intended parties. This is one of the unique features of izzbie ONE, and we are proud to make it very simple to use.

One additional benefit mentioned is easier access to geo-restricted content. How will that provide value to users?

Many online services restrict or present different content in differing geographic regions. In some locations, content is blocked entirely. For example, Google, YouTube and Facebook are not accessible in China. The Chinese government prevents access to these sites, among many others, within its border. Furthermore, shopping sites may display a different product catalog in another country. Videos may not be accessible through your paid video streaming services. These are just a few examples, and it can be very frustrating when you travel to another country to find that the things that you typically rely on in your home country suddenly are not available to you. It can severely hinder your work if you cannot access your emails, cloud services, or business applications. Or, it can directly kill the fun of your trip when you cannot connect with your friends on social media and share your stories.

izzbie ONE allows users to stay in their home network and enjoy the same online experience during their trips … just as if you were at home. Connection with izzbie ONE is so seamless and straightforward that you do not notice any difference in the online experience. Moreover, izzbie ONE does not use VPN protocols and shared proxy servers. Therefore, it is not affected by sites or countries that block VPN traffic. We think this is a significant advantage that provides substantial benefits to users who frequently travel and want an undisrupted online experience.

With hacking and cybertheft reaching the point of global implications, do you feel that data anywhere is truly safe?

I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately, the reality is far from it. I think it is safe to say that no matter what era we live in, there will always be a certain percentage of the population that will try to exploit the system for personal gains. With the advancement of technology, the stakes have been raised however the fundamental principles do not change. When someone picks a lock, we make a better one. So the question becomes: are we doing something to protect ourselves? Just because you know someone might pick your lock does not mean you should not bother to put one there. In this time and age, I think we have to be proactive about protecting our online presence and izzbie ONE helps you do just that.

To find out more, visit izzbie.com.

Patricia Ames
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is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.