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Napier Spinout, LastingAsset, Awarded Funding for Cyber-scam Solution

An Edinburgh Napier University cyber-project has been backed by new funding to explore ways of combatting phone-based impersonation and imposter scams – which cause substantial financial losses, privacy breaches and distress to people around the world.

LastingAsset, which began as a crypto asset security concept, has secured £200,000 in funding from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spinout Programme and £20,000 from The Data Lab.

The LastingAsset team at ENU’s School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment (SCEBE) will now use the technology behind that original idea and spend the next year working with pilot customers to refine their anti-fraud product, before taking it to market.

Among other privacy features, it uses encryption technology to prevent rogue actors from impersonating an organisation’s phone number to dupe victims.

According to the UK Government’s latest fraud strategy, unsuspecting individuals and organisations lost £2.35bn through fraud in 2021, with the banking and finance industry losing £1.3bn.

Project leader Dr Zakwan Jaroucheh said: “Our research team were initially working on a custodial solution for crypto assets. While this remains a problem that needs addressing, we wanted to provide a solution to a more pressing societal challenge. This is when we pivoted to using the same underlying technologies to address the problem of impersonation phone call scams.

“In today’s modern digital world, businesses often find themselves unable to effectively protect their customers from cyber fraud, which tarnishes their reputation and their ability to use the voice calls effectively.

“The LastingAsset solution uses blockchain and homomorphic encryption technologies to effectively combat phone number spoofing, voice-based impersonation and cloning scams, without requiring the organisation to build a new security infrastructure.

“With this, any organisation that communicates with their customers by voice can assure customers that they are speaking with a genuine representative and not a scammer.”

Nanik Ramchandani of Imagine Ventures, who leads the project’s commercial team, said: “We are beginning trials with two pilot customers and opening our waiting list for additional pilots.

“It is going to be an incredibly exciting and rewarding journey over the coming months, as we translate our proof of concept and vision into a valuable offering to clients and stop scammers from defrauding fellow citizens.”

Over the next eight to 12 months, they expect to work with more than 30 initial pilot customers in securing their voice communication. This process will allow the team to refine the architecture of their product; test their solution and increase its credibility. At the end of this period, they anticipate product-market fit and the ability to rapidly scale their offering.

Through Scottish Enterprise’s High-Growth Spinout Programme, LastingAsset is receiving £200,000 in funding, building upon £74,948 which was awarded in 2022.

Source: DIGIT

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