Enveil CEO Ellison Anne Williams is featured as part of a series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry.
Excerpt from the Q&A:
Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I started Enveil four years ago, and while I have always been an entrepreneur at heart, I arrived in this field rather unexpectedly. I pursued math in college because it was interesting, and I graduated with a PhD in pure mathematics, along with Master’s degrees in math, computer science, and machine learning before it was ever the cool thing to do. I was hired by the U.S. National Security Agency, which happens to be the nation’s largest employer of mathematicians. I spent about 12 and a half years at the National Security Agency and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, which is where I encountered homomorphic encryption (HE), the technology at the core of Enveil’s solution. There are business-enabling capabilities that HE facilitates that are not otherwise possible, and I knew I wanted to start a company that would help finally move the technology from the realm of the theoretical to the commercially practical. And that’s what we’ve been building at Enveil ever since.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We are fundamentally changing the paradigm of secure data usage by protecting data while it’s being used or processed — the ‘holy grail’ of data encryption. The technology that makes this possible, homomorphic encryption (HE), has been a topic of academic research for decades, but had long been considered too computationally impractical for commercial use. And in its initial form, it was painfully slow, bulky, and expensive to implement. But we’ve had made breakthroughs in the past several years that have allowed us to build market-ready solution to address a number of business use cases, especially in industries that are dealing with highly sensitive and/or regulated assets. This is significant because HE is not making something better; it’s making something entirely new possible. The business-enabling and privacy-preserving capabilities it enables are allowing organizations to securely search, share, analyze, and collaborate using sensitive data. And the fact that a category — Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) — has formed around the utilization of HE further affirms that it has shifted into the mainstream.
Read the full interview at Authority Magazine.