Waging war on cyber crime

Atlas Computer boss Allan Gray selling to the American market
Atlas Computer boss Allan Gray selling to the American market

A WIGAN firm’s Spooks-style technological breakthrough is to be used in the global war on terrorism.

The “unhackable” software from Hindley Green-based Atlas could also prove a powerful tool against cyber-crime.

It is already being used as a teaching tool in America’s National University’s MSc course in cyber security, and the company is in talks with the US Navy and San Diego Police Department about adopting Atlas Exchange too.

What is called a Secure Managed File Transfer (SMFT) system, Atlas Exchange has already won 1,200 customers in the US and 2,000 in the UK.

Some customers use it because it proves a reliable way of sending data from A to B, but some want it specifically because it is very secure.

Atlas MD Allan Gray said: “It would take a highly clued-up criminal several weeks on a super-computer to decode one message, then they would have to start all over again on the next. Having said that no-one has cracked one yet.

“The encryption we use is the same as the one the US military uses: information is chopped up, encrypted and re-assembled at the other end.

“If you are sending an email under normal circumstances anyone can hack into it, but this system prevents that.

“If you had it on ships and satellites, you would have to destroy every ship and every satellite to stop it working.

“It allows people and organisations to send messages, documents, photographs and movies to each other with absolute confidence that it will arrive, and without being intercepted by anyone else.”

More than £4m has been invested in Atlas Exchange, which has been operating uninterrupted since its launch in 2004. Work is now ongoing to introduce Atlas’s software to the San Diego-based university’s School of Engineering and Technology.

Dr Gordon Romney at the university said: “The Master of Science in Cyber Security and Information Assurance (CSIA) is part of global efforts to ensure the security, confidentiality, integrity, authenticity, control, availability and utility of the world’s computing and information systems infrastructure.

“We are delighted to be working with Atlas, whose Exchange system is a complete data communications service which provides ultra secure, reliable, data delivery and file transfer.

“In addition to the defence and national security context, the program is applicable in other important government, public and business environments, such as health, legal, banking and financial services.”

Mr Gray added: “We are very pleased to be part of these collaborative efforts to promote data security and that National University has recognised the unique nature of our software.

“We look forward to developing the relationship further in the coming months for the benefit of students at National University and also the wider government and business communities.”

Atlas has several branches around the world, with 32 staff based at the premises in Swan Lane, Hindley Green.