Seed Funding Enables GridCOM to Advance Cyber Security Technology
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quantum encryption to market, Earl says he left a cyberwarfare group at Oak Ridge to found GridCOM Technologies, a startup near San Diego commercializing the technology.
GridCOM says it recently secured seed funding from Bakersfield, CA-based Ellis Energy Investments, and is looking to raise Series A funding from venture investors. Earl would not disclose how much funding GridCOM received, citing a contractual agreement with Ellis. But he says the seed funding is enough to pay for prototype development and demonstration tests at the six-employee startup over the next year.
GridCOM’s approach to quantum encryption technology uses a laser to generate photon “twins” that are “entangled,” a term that describes how the twin photons are correlated with identical-but-opposite polarizations. A computer server uses the correlated photons to produce a random encryption key to authenticate and encrypt power grid data and commands.
Earl says the correlated photons behave in accordance with the unique properties of quantum mechanics. Any attempt to intercept or read the authentication key would alter the photons’ physical signature, so the technology provides secure communications without any delay.
Quantum encryption has been under development for more than 20 years, and Earl says the technology is not ready for use in commercial telecommunications. But applying the technology for use in machine-to-machine communications “is not as researchy and is actually pretty easy,” Earl says.
GridCOM plans to offer its technology as a subscription-based service, initially targeting electric utilities. While San Diego Gas & Electric is a potential customer, Earl says GridCOM is working initially with the Northern California Power Agency. Earl says he envisions SDG&E will be a research partner as the company moves to field trials, perhaps as early as next year.