A small UK R&D startup commissioned to solve complex data loss prevention problems for car maker Jaguar Land Rover is celebrating winning the Most Innovative Small Cyber Security Company award at last week’s Infosecurity Show in London Olympia.

Based in Wales, victorious GeoLang was competing against ten other UK security startups all of which had been given free exhibition space to promote themselves courtesy of the Government’s tech support organisation, Innovate UK.

Each had only five minutes to pitch judges made up of VCs, experts and Elsevier CISO David Cass, after which GeoLang’s unusual Ascema Data Loss Prevention (DLP) system emerged as top dog.

“It was extraordinarily useful and we're very pleased with the quality of the visitors after we did our seminars,” said co-founder and GeoLang CEO, Debbie Garside on the exposure the firm received from its booth.

The startup’s previous R&D projects included, amongst other things, looking into the potential of secure social network for the military but it was Jaguar Land Rover’s request to solve the treacherous problem of protecting intellectual property in its supply chain to an incredibly granular level that sparked what turned into the Ascema DLP system.

As a product demo shows, Ascema is extremely granular DLP, unlike anything currently on the market. Capable of controlling and integrating with a range of web applications including Box, Google Docs/Gmail, and Office 365, the platform offers a way for organisations to control the chaos of sensitive documents being shared between multiple partners right down to securing the cut and paste function. Anyone editing or copying with the documents in an unusual way can be detected in real time.

“You can capture the Bradley Mannings of this world,” says Garside, with surprising under-statement for such a bold claim. Documents and the people using them become visible.

“It’s all very well to protect the data in the Fortune 500 but as soon as you send it out to the supply chain who is protecting it there?” This, ffo course, is a major limitation of many DLP systems.

Both the company’s and Ascema’s story shows off the sort of collaboration that would once have been unheard of in the UK, taking in research and IP licensed from GCHQ and the University of Surrey, as well as Garside’s own PhD research at the University of Wales in Cardiff.

Founded as long ago as 2006, GeoLang’s setup costs have been covered by the Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) backed up by two rounds of angel seed and VC funding, says Garside.

“We had no experience in data loss prevention before Jaguar Land Rover, admits Garside. “What we did have was a good reputation for research and development.

“There was a market gap in that the current solutions are aimed at large enterprises – there is very little penetration of SMEs. But we are aiming at large industry as well,” she says.

As a broader-based R&D lab, the firm continues to invest in other products although a contact from HP generated by last week’s award looks set to set to occupy her attention for some time.  The US firm is intrigued by the potential to use Ascema in its own operations.

Garside cautions that the software is still only in its pilot phase but already GeoLang has a name for itself beyond the confines of its immediate web of friends and funders.

The UK has a weak record of creating sustainable security startups but the list of firms that went head to head at last week’s Infosecurity Show was encouraging enough to suggest that something has finally changed for the better.  

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