Crypto4A lands $3.75M in federal funding to scale up quantum-safe cybersecurity hardware

More than a dozen years after it was launched, cybersecurity firm Crypto4A Technologies is hoping for a sales breakthrough in 2024 after landing a multimillion-dollar loan from the federal government to develop its cutting-edge products.

The west-end Ottawa company has spent several years honing its hardware that is designed to prevent hackers from using powerful quantum computers to crack the complex mathematical algorithms that underpin most modern-day cybersecurity systems.

Last week, Crypto4A announced it has received a $3.75-million repayable contribution from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. 

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Co-founder and CEO Bruno Couillard says the new funding will allow Crypto4A, which now employs nearly 40 people in the Ottawa region, to hire an additional 50 employees over the next three to four years as it starts ramping up production of its next-generation cybersecurity devices.

“The market demand for what we do is massive, and currently we’re probably a leading company in the world with that technology,” he told Techopia last week. “We have a very strong advantage at the moment, and we intend to keep it.”

Crypto4A was founded in 2012 by a group of cybersecurity industry veterans led by Couillard, who previously co-founded pioneering hardware security venture Chrysalis-ITS in the mid-’90s.

The founders spent the next five years “brainstorming” the technology before embarking on full-scale development of the security modules in 2017, Couillard explained.

In an interview the following year, the cybersecurity veteran referred to Crypto4A’s technology as “a mini-data centre in a box.” 

“We’re able to pack all of the security you’d find in a regular data centre in a single appliance,” Couillard told Techopia Live in 2018.

Crypto4A says the metal-encased devices are more than 60 per cent smaller than the traditional products used to secure the flow of information in and out of data centres and can be easily updated as new cyberthreats emerge.

As machines from cars to coffee-makers become more connected to the internet, and ultra-fast 5G networks promise to accelerate the explosive growth of wireless data even further, Couillard said Crypto4A’s solutions are more important than ever to help customers stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

It would take today’s computers “tens of thousands of years” to decode the cryptography that currently protects highly sensitive data, Couillard explained. 

But the quantum computers that are expected to come into widespread use over the next decade will be capable of cracking complex mathematical riddles in a matter of “minutes at most,” he said.

Designed, developed and manufactured in Ontario, Cypto4A’s hardware is designed to be quantum-computer-safe.

“Quantum computers will completely destroy (current methods of) cryptography,” Couillard said. “We think the internet has changed our lives. I believe it’s nothing compared to what’s going to be happening.”

In addition to securing federal funding, the company is also raising capital from private investors to help bankroll its scaleup drive, Couillard said, adding Crypto4A is already in talks with potential customers in North America, Europe and Asia.

“The future is really bright,” he said. “The planet is our backyard, so to speak.”

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