HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Major computer hacks of big companies or systems is almost commonplace. Yahoo is one of the latest victims. Like the system at the United States Office of Personnel Management, Yahoo's system was hacked over time. An "advanced persistent threat" is what the experts call malware that gets inserted by bad guys into a computer and steals information over time.
"We could have stopped that. None of those hacks would have happened, says Bobby Land, one of two Redstone Arsenal workers who have started their own company, AVANT Secure PC.
Land and partner Adam Raper do believe they have the solution to the majority of serious computer hacks. Everything from the breaches we've already mentioned to ransomware, in which a hacker gets into a computer, locks it up and only releases it for use, after being paid a "ransom." The solution turns out to be laptop and desktop computers that contain hardware that stops changes to the operating system.
"With our hardware solution, software is not able to manipulate our hardware, because you physically have to be at the computer in order to make a change. And that's what malware tries to do, is make a change," said Raper.
However, the owner of the computer might want to make a change themselves, but the guys at AVANT Secure PC say that's not a problem. "We have a 2048-bit authentication key that you plug right to the machine. You boot up to it and you can do whatever changes you want," said Land.
The guys say any changes made by hackers to the computer's memory can be removed with a simple reboot.
"It seems too good to be true, and we're found that's the most difficult hurdle to get past," said Raper. He's talking about convincing people the AVANT Secure PC system works and that they should purchase one of the company's computers.
The guys have been able to sell their computers to multiple defense contractors in north Alabama and elsewhere. This is after all, a money-making operation, but there's also another motive. "We want to get this out in the critical infrastructure and protect our country," said Raper.
Among the pieces of infrastructure cyber security experts worry about is the nation's power grid. It's considered vulnerable. The guys at AVANT Secure PC say grid operators could count on the promise they make to every potential customer.
"If you back up your data, and you're using our computer, you are completely... a hundred percent safe. Guaranteed," said Raper.
To be clear, the hardware on AVANT Secure PC's computers has its patent pending, and technology is owned by CRU Inc. AVANT Secure PC is the only company licensed to put the cyber security hardware in retail computers.