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Meet the Boss – Exclusive Interview with REMME CEO Alex Momot

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REMME is introducing a blockchain-based solution for user authentication which protects companies’ data from cyber attacks while eliminating passwords.

It allows businesses to fortify user accounts by eliminating theft and provides secure access to sensitive data. Instead of a password, the user generates a specific SSL certificate for each device. The certificate data is managed on the blockchain, which makes it extremely difficult for hackers to use fake certificates.

No more passwords , no more break-ins. REMME is a solution for making passwords obsolete, thus eliminating the human factor from the authentication process. REMME is designed to facilitate and resolve access management by building the distributed Public Key Infrastructure protocol and a set of DApps on top of it.

We recently sat down with Alex Momot, the CEO of REMME, to have a chat with him about the project as well as seeking his thoughts and insights on the industry.

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Hi, Alex. Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about yourself and REMME?

Sure. So I founded REMME three years ago, during a spell when cyber attacks in my homeland were proliferating. A number of major Ukrainian firms had been threatened by successful cyber attacks, and this dynamic was playing out across the rest of the world too, with everything from public utility companies to financial services providers crippled by the intrusions. While some of these attacks were extremely sophisticated in nature, many more were elementary. As is so often the case, both with online security and in the real world, human error was the single biggest cause of failure.

It was evident that if we could eliminate or at least mitigate that point of failure, we could dramatically bolster network security. And with that goal in mind, REMME was born. We started working on our passwordless authentication system in 2015, and by the following year, our efforts had intensified as we recruited security experts and high-level developers with the skills to help turn our vision into reality.

First off, why did you decide to use the blockchain in building REMME?
What was your thought process behind it?

Around 2016, as REMME started getting up to speed, we settled on the blockchain as being the ideal way to distribute SSL/TLS certificates. It was evident that if it was done right, this would be a highly effective way of keeping these out of the reach of attackers. There’s a lot of hype about blockchain, and projects being launched that have no real need for blockchain technology, but one thing that a distributed ledger is ideal for is securing assets, and removing them from centralized databases that are honeypots for attackers.

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You don’t need a blockchain if you’re selling bananas – despite what some startups seem to think – but if you’re needing to store certificates in such a way as to prevent them falling into the wrong hands, blockchain is ideal.

Tell us about how you came up with the idea of REMME.
Did you face a problem within the industry or do you think there is a gap in the market for REMME to fill?

As the adage goes, there’s no such thing as absolute security. What there certainly is, however, is scope for dramatic improvement on the solutions that are currently in place. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated the network access software is or how well it’s encrypted: so long as it’s reliant on a human typing in a string of characters they’ve memorized or stored “in a safe place” there is a serious risk of a system breach. Current solutions, despite being made with good intentions, fail to address this critical issue. So yes, I firmly believe that our passwordless authentication system has merit and real use cases, and the businesses who’ve been trialing it, who stem from all sectors, concur.

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There’s no such thing as absolute security

What do you think is the biggest problem REMME will solve and why is the problem important to solve?

I think there are two problems that we solve here, the first being how to eliminate passwords without introducing a system that is equally flawed and subject to new attack vectors. Just as passwords can be copied, determined attackers can and have found ways to fake such things as facial recognition and fingerprint scans. Taking away the much-maligned password as a means of access is fine, but you need to replace it with an alternative that is not only more secure but also user-friendly.

If the solution you’re introducing is robust but a total nightmare to use, no one’s going to use it. Businesses would rather stick with the status quo than go with a safer but less accessible alternative. The second problem we’re solving is finding a way to harness the benefits of blockchain without being subject to its drawbacks, such as slow transaction confirmation times. We’re working on a solution which is fast, despite its reliance on blockchain technology.

Do you think your solution will make applications like LastPass and Dashlane obsolete and if so, why?

Password managers such as LastPass and Dashlane do have their applications and if used correctly can enhance security. Making passwords stronger is only a stop-gap measure though. Moreover, these sorts of systems can introduce additional flaws, especially when users resort to writing down hard to remember passwords for these platforms. The likes of LastPass, while used by some businesses, are more consumer-oriented solutions. With REMME, we’re trying to help enterprises secure their systems. Their adoption will, in turn, make these platforms safer for their users, be they clients or the general public.

So we’re tackling the problem of passwords from a different perspective from companies such as LastPass. Should REMME rise to become the web’s de facto security solution I’ll be delighted of course, but this isn’t necessary for REMME to add value and to help lower the number of major cyber attacks that are successfully conducted each year globally.

In your opinion, why do you think cybersecurity is not given much attention to by many businesses?
For example, when people talk about developing an application, they talk about costs, the features of the application, how long will it take etc. but they rarely talk about the security features.
Why do you think this happens?

The truth is that security isn’t sexy. It doesn’t sell consumer products. People get off on cool UI and novel features, not on reading about the encryption standards you’re using. As a result, companies are incentivized to focus on style over substance, bigging up the USPs and headline grabbers that characterize their apps, while neglecting the security side of things. There’s also a sense of fatalism in that many developers feel that since they’re powerless to completely eliminate the possibility of a system breach, they’re resigned to doing what they can and hoping for the best.

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What has been your happiest moment so far working on REMME?
On the flipside, what has been the most painful, or perhaps the most regretful decision you’ve made with REMME?

It’s hard to pick a single favorite moment, as there’s been a few, and the last year especially has been such a blur it’s hard to filter through all the highlights. I think that some of the blockchain conferences I had the pleasure of attending last year on behalf of REMME were pretty special though. When you’re developing software in a vacuum, and are shut away for days, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world of like-minded developers and visionaries out there who are equally passionate about blockchain and its potential.

Getting the chance to meet and exchange ideas with many of the brightest minds in the crypto space was a real pleasure. In terms of regretful decisions, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my time, but I don’t let them trouble me: I learn from them, vow not to commit them again and then move on.

Is REMME already working with notable businesses or firms? Are there any future partnerships in process?
If yes, can you explain briefly about it?

We’re currently running a pilot program which over 70 businesses have signed up for. Companies such as Gladius, who are integrating our PKI (d) protocol into their decentralized blockchain ecosystem, and FLUX, a blockchain gaming platform, are among the first adopters of our technology. We also have a number of high profile partnerships in the works that we hope to bring news of soon.

Tell us more about REM.
What is its function in the platform and what can token-holders expect from it in the future?

The REM token is at the heart of the passwordless authentication system we’ve created. It powers a range of critical processes, including certificate generation and revocation. It can also be used to establish nodes which are used to secure the blockchain and verify transactions.

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What do you think is the biggest challenge or obstacle REMME will face? How do you plan to tackle that challenge?

When you’re launching a small business and trying to unseat the incumbents, who have the power and the financial muscle to stifle the competition, the challenges are enormous. We’re under no illusions that we have a lot of work to do in convincing the business world that a little-known company from Eastern Europe presents their best hope of securing their network, but that’s what we intend to do. The product is there, the team is hired, the fundraising is on its way to completion and the businesses are starting to be onboarded. All the elements are in place. Now what we need to do is get out there and show the world our creation, and educate them on how REMME can help make their systems more secure.

Moving on to more personal stuff, what does a typical day in your life look like?

I wake up around 8 am and checking mail and Telegram. Starting my work at home and moving to the office after 1-2 hours. My work at the office starts with a short scrum meeting with local and remote teams followed by few hours of individual work or meetings.
In the evening we usually have another scrum discussing plans for next day. Usually, I`m finishing work late in the evening and going to sleep around 00.00-02.00 am.

Now I`m traveling a lot so often my day is different due to conferences, meetups, and flights between them.

Can you express one personal opinion of yours about the blockchain? It doesn’t matter if it’s negative or positive, we just want to hear your thoughts on it.

The word itself – blockchain – is overused and there are a lot of startups cynically cashing in on the blockchain craze, but this doesn’t concern me, for it’s the same with any emerging technology or any disruptive innovation which becomes trendy. Ten years from now, the blockchain solutions which add real value and have demonstrated a tangible use case will still be standing, while the rest will have withered and died. I have every confidence that REMME will be among the survivors, and that in that time we will have flourished.

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Finally, what other personal goals (besides your career) do you have in life? Is there anything else in life you want to achieve?

After finishing the token sale phase and establishing basics for the fast growth and adoption of REMME products in various areas I plan to start a family.
Another important thing for me is helping my country in development and fighting with bureaucracy and corruption. I hope to replace local clerks, whole ministries, and parliament with scripts and smart contracts.

That concludes our Interview with Alex Momot

More Interviews to come

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