Jan 31, 2014 10:45 AM EST
Kent Lawson is the founder and CEO of Private Communications Corporation and creator of its flagship software PRIVATE WiFi. With over 40 years of computer industry experience, Lawson has launched several highly successful technology ventures. Prior to Private Communications Corporation, Kent founded Magna Software Corporation and ran it for nearly 20 years, before retiring in 1998. Magna specialized in mainframe software, and its products are still being used in businesses and government agencies today. Prior to Magna, he was President of Lupfer and Long, a computer programming company that provided consulting and contract services to government agencies.
In 2010, after 12 years of retirement, Kent became interested in Internet privacy and security issues and the vulnerability of wireless communications in WiFi hotspots. He created Private Communications Corporation to protect consumers and corporations from privacy and security breaches on the Internet. PRIVATE WiFi, the company’s first product, protects individuals and business people while using laptops and other mobile devices at public WiFi hotspots. Droid Report recently interviewed Kent about his current role as CEO of Private WiFi, discussed insights on wifi and security and more.
Kent Lawson CEO of Private WiFi
Droid Report: Hello Kent, Private Wifi is VPN software that encrypts users Internet communications. Can you tell us more about your role as the CEO and share some insight on 2014 initiatives?
Kent Lawson: When I formed the company in 2010, my first job was product design. I wanted to make a product that was simple to use by ordinary, non-technical people. Now, our product set is complete, with support for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. Our server network is worldwide and highly reliable.
Later, I focused on marketing. We developed simple messages to convey the risks, such as our trademarked phrase “Public wifi is just that. Public.” We have the most flexible licensing and pricing in our industry.
Now, I am focusing on strategic directions. I see major opportunities to expand our services, and we will be making significant announcements in a few months.
Droid Report: Where do you see the future heading with Personal VPN Solutions?
Kent Lawson: With our mobile lifestyle, ubiquitous public wifi hotspots and our heavy use of portable laptops, tablets and phones, people’s privacy is increasingly at risk. Wifi signals are just radio waves and can be easily intercepted by anyone within radio range.
The fact is that smartphone and tablet owners are far more likely to become victims of identity fraud than the general public, according to Javelin Research. The only way to protect your communications in a wifi hotspot is to use a VPN.
We firmly believe that everyone needs a Personal VPN, just as they need antivirus and firewall. It will take a few more years – and even more horror stories about online credit card fraud and identity theft. But soon most people will come to realize that they need to have access to a personal VPN whenever they use public wifi.
There are two types of products out there. Some are “free,” supported by advertising. But these companies actually watch your internet surfing history and sell it to their advertisers – which hardly qualifies as a “privacy” company, in my opinion. PRIVATE WiFi is a subscription service, quite affordable, and solely committed to protecting individuals’ privacy.
Droid Report: What main features would you consider most successful in using Private Wifi?
Kent Lawson: Ease of use, reliability and security. We wanted PRIVATE WiFi to be as easy to use as antivirus software: you can install it and forget it. It will be protecting you in the background.
Our software loads automatically when you boot up your laptop. Then, every time you establish a new internet connection, PRIVATE WiFi investigates the type of connection and automatically activates the encryption process only if needed. We think this is essential for ease of use and we have a patent on the technology.
We have 23 server locations around the world to provide excellent responsiveness wherever you are, and multiple servers in each location for reliability.
We use 128 bit encryption over secure VPN “tunnels” to assure that your information is secure.
Droid Report: What challenges do you personally see organizations are facing today in your industry?
Kent Lawson: In a word, it is awareness. People are only dimly aware of how vulnerable they are in wifi hotspots. Some think that identity theft is still done by dumpster diving.
The reality is that you can be in a crowded hotspot, perhaps a coffee shop, public park, hotel or airport lounge, with hundreds of other people, each with their attention focused on their mobile device. But one of them, instead of checking the weather or changing a flight reservation, might be “sniffing” all the communications going back and forth in the hotpot and storing everything on a laptop computer for later analysis. It’s then pretty easy to scan the traffic looking for something that might be a credit card number or social security number. Boom - that’s identity theft and there is a lot of it going on. And this sort of hacking is the ultimate stealthy crime, because there is absolutely no way to know it is going on until it is too late.
Droid Report: Is there anything else you feel Android users and the Android market should know?
Kent Lawson: Definitely! Cybercriminals love Android devices. According to Juniper Research, MOBILE malware grew by OVER 600% over the last year – and 92% of that malware targets Android smartphones.
The problem is that there are so many variants of Android software and hardware out there and many Android devices are running older versions of the operating system. So the Android platform makes a very, very tempting target for the bad guys.
Two of the most heavily used hacks actually target mobile payment systems, so they can generate very quick profits and cause lots of problems for the victims.
We would like to thank Kent Lawson for taking the time for this discussion and Private Wifi.
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