Got Questions?

We figured you might.

We have spooled a few popular questions about StrongKey and the Tellaroâ„¢ and listed them below, but if you don’t see your question here, please don’t hesitate for a second to drop us a line.

Why do you call it the Tellaro?

As the story goes, on a stormy night in 1660, the town of Tellaro slept peacefully. The sea was so rough that no one expected danger to be fast-approaching on the horizon. Though the seas raged, a band of pirates led by Rooster Arenzano forged through the storm in an all-out, surprise attempt to attack and loot the town of Tellaro that very night. The pirates, however, couldn’t account for all the things fate had in store for them on that stormy night. To their dismay, the seas were not the biggest adversary, but instead, something else lurking beneath its waters. As they neared the shore of the sleepy town, an enormous octopus climbed out of the water and up a church belfry to escape the turbulent seas. In its ascent, the great creature began to ring the bells. The citizens of Tellaro, recognizing the alarm, took to the streets to defend the village and drove off the pirate attack. After their victory, they looked upward at the church tower, eager to rally around their hero, expecting to find a fellow citizen or guard who had rung the bells. Instead, their gaze landed on a the massive octopus, the unexpected protector of all they held dear.

What happens if I lose my FIDO security key?

A neat thing about FIDO technology is that it enables the use of multiple security keys to access your account. You can have multiple keys registered to your account on the Tellaro, put one on your keychain and the second in a locked drawer at home, the third in the office, etc., as backups. Even if you lose one, you can always use a backup key to access your account, delete the key associated with the lost security key and continue working with the backup key as your primary key. You can then replace the lost security key with a new one and register it to your account.

Even if you lost all your security keys to your account, StrongKey has built in Two-step Verification to send a PIN to your mobile phone or registered e-mail address on the account. Using this PIN, you can register a new security key to your account.

Finally, the Tellaro Kit contains tamper evident envelopes where your Tellaro Administrator’s security key  is stored; using this key, you can delete registered keys associated with your account and have the Tellaro Administrator send you a new registration link for use with a new security key.

Can this protect against ransomware?

The StrongKey Tellaro leverages multiple technologies to protect you from ransomware. Firstly, FIDO strong-authentication requires the use of a hardware token (that cannot be accessed by remote attackers).

Secondly, the FIDO protocol requires that the human attempting to authenticate to a web-application be physically present in front of computer to satisfy FIDO’s “test of user presence” requirement in the protocol.

Third, StrongKey has integrated with the popular open-source MediaWiki software (which runs websites like Wikipedia.org) with our FIDO Sign-On (FSO) web-application to enable the use of FIDO strong-authentication to access the wiki. If you were to install and use MediaWiki on one of your computers to store your content and files, ransomware will be unable to access, modify and delete files on the wiki without the FIDO Security Key and the test-of-human-presence as mandated by FIDO protocols. This transactional security ensures that ransomware will be unable to harm StrongKey’s customers.

Why do I need to have a physical box?

StrongKey has learned – and believes – that your security must be anchored to something within your control. In the real world, the security of our safe-deposit locker is anchored in the bank’s security infrastructure and policies, while your control is established through contract and the physical possession of one of the two keys that can open the locker. Similarly, access to your bank account at an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is established through the physical possession of an ATM bank-card in your wallet.

Similarly, the security of Tellaro relies upon the the cryptographic hardware module on the box, combined with your possession of multiple Security Keys to active the Tellaro’s security features (even upon every reboot of the Tellaro. This security feature protects your data even if a Tellaro box is stolen from your premises – we do recommend keeping it out of sight in a safe location at the office).

StrongKey believes the Cloud offers many benefits; but trusting the Cloud with all your security would be similar to trusting the Bank with both keys to your safe-deposit locker. This is the reason why the Tellaro was designed as an “on-premises” solution.

Okay, then what happens if my box dies?

We plan on selling our solution in a “highly available kit.” This is a package of two duplicate boxes, such that if one goes down, the second is running a duplicate mirror of the first. Service is not lost, and StrongKey will replace the downed box within 24-48 business hours.  

Okay, but what if both of those boxes die? Say, my office catches on fire.

For the vast majority of our users, a highly-available kit will suffice. For those who want the ultimate in backup, we recommend buying an additional node as part of the cluster and storing it in a place separate from a main office. This can be in a fireproof locker, or at a home office.  The encrypted keys as well as encrypted data from the Mini will be replicated to the StrongKey Cloud continuously and can be restored to the third, off-line node within hours of a disaster.  Such Business Continuity capability has been available only to enterprises in the past, but is now available to SMBs through StrongKey. 

How is this different from Dropbox?

Consider this analogy: Suppose you are working with a real estate agent to buy a new house. Upon closing on your house, your agent brings you a bottle of Champagne to celebrate, as well as copies of your keys to let you into your place. But as she hands you them, she tells you that she’s also going to keep a copy of those keys. “Don’t worry — you can trust me,” she insists. But you know that someone out there has a duplicate of your keys, and could let herself in should she wish, let the police in if they pressured her, or lose those keys and have a criminal pick them up.

This is a rough approximation of what Dropbox does with your data. Yes, it may be encrypted, but the keys to unlock that encryption exist with Dropbox! If subpoenaed, they can turn over your data. Theoretically, their employees could look at your data. Or, Dropbox themselves could be hacked.

StrongKey is different because you, and only you, have control of your keys.

What kind of encryption does StrongKey use?

We encrypt data and documents with an AES 256-bit (this is a NIST-approved standard) symmetric key – which the industry calls a “Data Encryption Key” or “DEK.”

We encrypt the DEK with a RSA 2048-bit (this is also a NIST-approved standard) asymmetric key – this key is generally called a “Key Encrypting Key” or “KEK”;

We then protect the KEK with a RSA 2048-bit Master Key, which is generated and stored in a cryptographic hardware module – the TPM (or “Trusted Platform Module”). Currently, we are working with a Common Criteria (CC – a security standard agreed to by many OECD countries including the US) certified TPM, but in 2018, we expect to start shipping units that are not only Common Criteria certified, but are also US Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) certified TPMs.

To activate the TPM upon a restart of the appliance, it requires digital signatures from multiple key-custodians. The digital signatures are created by RSA 2048-bit keys held in the custody of the Key Custodians.  Without these keys that create the “activation digital signatures”, the box is useless (to a thief or attacker) – the TPM will not function; if it does not function, the Master Key cannot be used to decrypt the KEK; which in turn cannot be used to decrypt the DEK, which in turn cannot be used to decrypt the data or document;

Every document that is encrypted is also digitally signed using a “Document Signing Key” or “DSK”.  The digital signature on the document ensures that its integrity is preserved and attacks cannot be carried out by modifying the meta-data on the document to have the box decrypt a document for an unauthorized person.

So, while this scheme sounds complex and horrible, this is what allows our appliances to scale up to 50M keys for StubHub, while ensuring extremely high levels of security that satisfy Central Banks Security Officers and their Auditors. This identical security – which has been in the enterprise appliance for the last 7-8 years – will be available to the SMB, in the Mini, at 1/10th the price of the enterprise appliance.  That’s what makes it unprecedented.