EIT Digital-backed startup Snowpack seeks a new level of security based on anonymity

Snowpack, a startup using privacy measures to achieve an entirely new level of online security, has attracted support from the French Government and EIT Digital - and announced a total fundraising of €2 million in November.

Launched a year and a half ago, Snowpack seeks to develop a network where the identity of users or devices and of the routes that data take to reach them is anonymous, providing security that is far superior to current cyphering methods.

"The main idea is not just security, but the combination of privacy and security, to reinforce each other ," according to Frédéric Laurent, CEO of Snowpack.

Today's network security involves encrypting peer-to-peer messaging between the sender and the receiver.

The data is "fragmented" - split into secret-shared complementary random noises - but fragmenting alone does not provide sufficient security, Laurent says. "Anonymity is not embedded in these solutions, so if you were searching the internet, you could still very quickly find the complementary fragments," he explains.

Powered by anonymity

Snowpack fragments, called 'snowflakes', are different. "They are flowing on anonymously built routes. There is no way to know which snowflake is complementary with the other, and so it gives entirely new properties compared to the state of the research," according to Laurent.

Like other anonymity networks such as Tor, the Snowpack network runs on a transparent system that can borrow computing power from clients, whose servers become the nodes through which data travels. The nodes remain anonymous, so the source and path of a snowflake is unknown, Laurent says.

"The route is generated at the user level, and not at Snowpack level, and therefore Snowpack has no way to know what's happening on its network," Laurent says. As for the nodes, "they have no way to know what's going through them. Because we're not just doing cyphering, we're splitting information through a secret sharing scheme."

"Under the current state of the art, we must have faith in the cyphering of our internet providers," Laurent says, adding: "The way data is moving on our network, you don't have to trust anymore: no node can access the data, even with support of a quantum computer."

EIT Digital a backer from the start

Snowpack submitted their application to become an EIT Digital Innovation Activity a month before they incorporated the company in May 2021, but the idea was something that the founders had been developing for a while, according to Laurent. "There were already several years of research, we were already starting to test outside of the lab," he says. "We had a proof of concept that was working."

Snowpack gave EIT Digital an option to take equity in exchange for funding that the startup will use to scale up the project. Laurent explains that they will implement proof of-work with altrnativ, to prove they can monitor resources brought in by partners with impending anonymity.

The French government is also enthusiastic about the project, and has provided more than €1 million in subsidies, Laurent says.

"Some of the best French cyber experts said three or four years ago that it was a very good idea, but it would never work in practice. We've been able to show that it works," Laurent says. "There are a lot of experts who have seen our technology and like it, and that's one of the reasons France is funding us."

The total of €2 million Snowpack has raised will go to building a sales and marketing team to help in the scaleup, according to Laurent. He adds that they also plan to scale out to an international level, opening an office in Austria.

In addition to EIT Digital and the government, Snowpack has also gained investment from Bpifrance, Arion.vc, Itera Invest, Defense Angels and other business angels. "A lot of people believe that our technology can bring something very different," Laurent explains.

As a valued member of its Equity Portfolio, EIT Digital will keep supporting Snowpack throughout its growth with business development, coaching, and access to finance services and by leveraging its pan-European ecosystem to create networking opportunities. 

The EIT Digital Innovation Factory supports the creation and early boost of European startups for their successful entry into the market.

Selected innovation activities are embedded in our pan-European ecosystem and receive financial support and professional guidance to package their technology, sign up customers and attract investors.

Check out our dedicated Innovation Factory webpage and learn more about benefits, process and current application deadlines.

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Co-Funded by the European Union