TokenEx protects sensitive information through ‘tokenization’
A virtual Who’s Who of worldwide business leaders has lost sensitive information to online thieves in recent years through high-profile data breaches. Microsoft, Estée Lauder, Facebook, Instagram, Barnes & Noble to name a few.
Billions of records were plundered, and that’s just in 2020, according to Security magazine.
That’s where TokenEx, an industry leading cybersecurity firm steps in to stop online thieves. TokenEx developed technology that renders data useless to thieves.
It’s called tokenization.
The Oklahoma City-based company developed proprietary tokenization technology that “desensitizes” critical information by replacing it with tokenized placeholders that have no relation to the original inputs.
So, the data is useless if it falls into the wrong hands.
“If you are a hacker and you steal a database full of information and all of it is credit card information, that’s going to be valuable to you; you can sell that on the dark web,” said TokenEx co-founder and CEO Alex Pezold. “However, if you steal a whole bunch of tokenized data that’s non-sensitive and doesn’t provide any value, then you haven’t hurt the company that was breached, and you have no value in the data.”
TokenEx was founded by Pezold and co-founder Jerald Dawkins in 2010 just as stringent new data security compliance standards were being implemented for the payment card industry. The co-founders are both graduates of the cybersecurity program at the University of Tulsa.
“We’re born and bred out of data security and data protection compliance,” Pezold said. “We’ve developed a cloud-based data protection platform.”
TokenEx protects sensitive data like that used in payment card transactions, bank account information, patient health information and Social Security numbers for clients across the world.
With billions of records from database breaches exposed annually, there is plenty of incentive to take steps to proactively protect sensitive data.
“If you have a significant data breach, it's going to cost you millions upon millions of dollars to recover, so data protection should be prioritized at the top,” Pezold said. “It should be a board-level topic. It should be, in my humble opinion, a priority or a project that gets prioritized above anything else at this point because data breaches aren't going away; they only continue to multiply.”
Today, TokenEx employs 55 people and operates out of a suite of offices in northwest Oklahoma City. It competes against not only companies located on both coasts that specialize in data protection but card payment processors, as well.
TokenEx developed its early tokenization technology with help of OCAST’s Oklahoma Applied Research Support (OARS) program, as well as funding from i2E Inc. through the OCAST Technology Business Finance Program (TBFP).
“OCAST OARS was the grant that we received for developing the tokenization, or at the time it was the Tokenized Tap,” Pezold said. “It was a hardware device to desensitize data. Then we went to I2E and were able to get the OCAST TBFP loan.
“The OCAST TBFP is where we really saw our technology develop into more of a Cloud-based platform.”
Today, TokenEx distinguishes itself in the cybersecurity industry by the extensive number of certifications it holds.
“When we were constructing TokenEx, what we committed to was making sure that we were going through all the industry audits and certifications and accreditations that a company like TokenEx would need,” Pezold said. “So, if you look at TokenEx compared to our competitors, we were probably one of the more audited and assessed groups because of the data that we handle.”
The company’s record of the last decade has been that of substantial growth both in terms of revenue and employment.
In fact, TokenEx was the No. 1-ranked firm in the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s 2016 Metro 50 ranking of private companies in the Oklahoma City area.
Both Alex Pezold and his wife, Stacey, have been deeply involved in building landmark Oklahoma City businesses. Stacey is a former long-time employee at human resources technology giant, Paycom, where she held several executive positions, including that of chief operating officer.
“You can't find anything better than Oklahoma City, as far as the people, location and office space, as well as the commitment back to technology in the area,” he said. “What we found is that Oklahoma City is very technology forward. We’re proud of our roots in oil and gas and with biotech, but technology has to be a part of Oklahoma City forwarding itself within the United States.
“What keeps us in Oklahoma City is the community,” he said. “We have a fantastic community around us that supports us, and they’ve supported us since day one.”