Mark Cuban is an American businessman, investor, tech mogul, and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. He is also a “shark” investor on the hit television series Shark Tank, and creator of privacy focused messaging app ‘Cyber Dust’.
After being falsely accused of insider trading by the SEC in 2008 and having to hand over all of his emails and messages, Mark decided to build a truly secure and private method of communication. Enter Cyber Dust, a messaging alternative that promises to never let your data touch a hard drive, only staying in-memory for a period of 24 hours.
We had a quick chat with Mark to find out some more about the app, his reasoning, and the technology behind it.
We know you had legal protection in mind when you created Cyber Dust, had you also considered a situation like Sony’s recent breach?
Absolutely. Everything and anything is hackable. There is always someone better at it than your security. For this reason we made sure that we never kept anything longer than 24 hours. More importantly for those 24 hours, nothing ever touches a hard drive.
if we detect a problem, we just pull the plug and the data within the 24 hour period is gone. Being exclusively in memory also makes it harder for anyone to root around and search.
How much of a shock do you think the breach was to the US media and tech industry?
It was a shock only because of the fact it impacted the release of a movie and surfaced emails from and about big celebrities. Beyond that i dont think it was a shock at all. If companies have a hard time protecting credit cards, it should be no surprise when emails or pictures are hacked.
Have you had corporate clients pick up Cyber Dust since then? Do you see much traction at an enterprise level for the app?
We had them before and after.
We don’t currently try to be an enterprise solution. Much like dropbox and other apps were introduced to organisations outside of their tech groups, the same is happening with Cyber Dust.
Are there emerging technologies or trends you think increase the risk to individual privacy? (Or erode privacy in a more insidious manner by changing our perception of it?)
I think social media is reducing our awareness of privacy issues. You look on twitter and there are people with 20k public tweets. How is there any upside to that ? Same with facebook, tumbler, instagram, etc. We just introduced an app called Xpire (in ios store, android coming). you can get info at getxpire.com. It allows you to search and delete old social media posts. It also allows you to set a timer to new posts.
Is there any reason at all why social posts should live forever?
What sounds reasonable and safe today most likely wont in a few years.
Do you see other opportunities for this straight forward approach to data privacy?
Yes. We will extend it into notifications for the Internet of Things. Its already being used by companies to send company updates and alerts. From simple reminders about meetings to critical information.
The fact that it’s non intrusive, is gone quickly and just as importantly prevents the recipient from procrastinating, you have to respond right then while you remember it, makes us a great corporate tool.
Rather than trying to replace email, you will see us extend into being a place where we can send updates to people, places and things and not leave a trace.
Just so people know, we have no server logs. None. We don’t know who used the service and don’t want to know. We don’t have or keep IP addresses or any information. Not GPS data. Nothing.
Any information we do gather is limited to the device and when the message is gone, so is the information.
Only exception is if you go to a website from inside the browser. Then the website operates normally.
Had you also considered the social component? There’s a lot to be said for a way to connect that is as private and immediate as a face to face conversation. If so, how might this digital intimacy factor into the development of the app?
We are definitely a content source. From celebrities, from businesses, from websites. You can get business headlines from BusinessInsider, tips from Daymond John of Shark Tank, GaryVee and Jason Calicanais, 2 big time tech investors. From entertainers, Sports teams and stars. We have LifeHacks, Factoftheday, Horoscopes. Every day there are a ton of new data and information sources being added. You can get a sense of them at http://www.cyberdust.com/popular
Because of the nature of the app, there’s no way to verify who any account actually belongs to (and therefore use it against them), short of an official blast. Was this a consideration in the design, or are you planning on adding verification at some point?
If you are on our popular page, you are verified. That will be our verification. There are a ton of A list celebrities and athletes using the service. But they use it for their own privacy. We want people to be able to use it with absolute privacy. If you happen to find a celeb’s user name, its incredibly easy for them to block you.
Cyber Dust is available for Android and iOS.
“Every spoken word isn’t recorded. Why should your texts be?”
(Image Credit: TechCrunch)
We decided to do some testing on Cyber Dust with some industry-standard mobile forensic tools. Here’s what we found: tinyurl.com/nv5zv2o