In our line of work, our clients are the people who intrigue us the most. Get To Know is a series by Aquí Design where we take you behind-the-scenes to find out who they are and what they do. With the growing concern for online privacy, you would be thrilled to know that our first feature is on Treasure, a cloud storage company whose branding we worked on. We spoke to Bianca Hanbury-Morris, Head of Product & Brand, about the dark side of big tech and the work that Treasure is doing to address that.
Bianca: Of course! I head up Product and Brand at Treasure. It's a super interesting role because you don't really see the two coming together as much in companies even though they work hand-in-hand. I own the UX/UI piece of the product - what the consumers feel and see. I also plan and prioritise product releases. For branding, I take the wonderful work that you guys have done for us and ensure that it is applied onto everything we do, creating the Treasure brand experience. I came from a brand marketing background and was trained at Procter and Gamble, where brand management was bread and butter. I also used to work for Twitter, where I witnessed how big of a role big tech played in the spread of misinformation during Brexit and the US elections in 2016. It was important for me to advocate for tech for good after leaving big tech, and it's super exciting to be doing that at Treasure, moving into product management while staying in touch with branding.
Bianca: I have a funny story to share about my husband's grandmother. So she's 92 years old and is a real techie for someone of her age. Fun fact: she was also the first one in the family to get an iPad. We wanted grandma to share photos with us when she was visiting in London, and she told us, “I can't - it's in my email back home in Alderney." If I were to speak to grandma again, I would tell her that there is now something called 'cloud' where you can store your files and photos in all sorts of formats and access it from anywhere quite securely. I wouldn't go into details about servers because it gets quite alienating!
“If I were to speak to grandma again, I would tell her that there is now something called 'cloud' where you can store your files and photos in all sorts of formats and access it from anywhere quite securely.”
Bianca: It's been quite a journey for us [Treasure]. We started out as a B2B company, which you all know as Anqlave, whose mission and vision was really to help institutions secure digital assets; very much in the family of key management systems. Our founding team has always been in the cyber security space, building the technology to protect these organisations. What stood out to them in their line of work was the fact that no one was looking out for the guys and girls in the street the same way these big guys were being looked out for; the same technology was not offered to the everyday consumer to protect their files. And that was why Treasure was born: to give people back the control they should have of their data and create a new narrative around data privacy and online security, away from how big tech companies have spun it.
“... no one was looking out for the guys and girls in the street the same way these big guys were being looked out for; the same technology was not offered to the everyday consumer to protect their files.”
Bianca: A lot of cloud storage providers out there will have some form of access to your files for one reason or another, mostly to monetise on the data. There are also risks of being hacked - having your files or identity stolen. It's only a number of degrees close to you that someone has had their identity taken from them and it can be a very distressing experience.
One of the main features of Treasure is end-to-end encryption. That means that by design of the product, only you, as the owner of the files, hold the key to the files that you upload to our cloud platform and determine who has access to it. It's kind of like a house where only the owners have the keys to it.
Treasure also gives its users the choice to opt in for Zero Knowledge which is an additional layer of security. That means that Treasure won't even store your account’s recovery keys if you forget your password. So your account and everything in it is entirely in your hands. If we go back to the house and keys metaphor, we're not even your landlord. We don't have the rights to your extra keys. It's entirely your property. So it's very important you don't lose your keys - or your extra keys! We only make it opt-in because other providers have faced backlash from users. There was a case of an IB student who lost the key to the zero knowledge cloud storage, and there was an extended essay within that was due the next day which couldn't be retrieved.
Bianca: Yes - that's right. And it's all by choice. We can only speculate, but it’s pretty obvious some of these companies make these choices for revenue. For example, Google's main business is ad revenue. For Dropbox, it's probably because they thought that they couldn't build a product that was good enough as it is indeed harder to build end-to-end encryption into cloud storage. Big tech has always made us believe that in order to enjoy a good product, you need to give up a bit of your privacy. But what we are advocating for at Treasure is that you can have privacy and a good product - they are not mutually exclusive.
“Big tech has always made us believe that in order to enjoy a good product, you need to give up a bit of your privacy. But what we are advocating for at Treasure is that you can have privacy and a good product - they are not mutually exclusive.”
Bianca: So the founding team have looked at the cloud storage security technology of the big players today including Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud, and they realised these providers are not secure at all. I guess everybody in the cybersecurity B2B space knows about it, but they didn't fully comprehend the scale of the problem until they dug into the terms and conditions. You should know that Google Drive accesses your data and monetises it. Can you imagine? I have my wedding photos and a bunch of confidential files in it and I'm sure many people do too. And to find out that they have access to these data - that's pretty crazy. You're right, it's a really interesting time because with documentaries like The Social Dilemma and headlines about the Facebook saga - online privacy and security issues have come to the fore.
Bianca: I would start simple. It's almost like when you start trying to be healthier - start simple and don't try to change too many things. Level one would be to be careful of what you share and who you share it with. My twitter account is public and I had a journalist use my photos on there in an article. That's why I tell my younger cousins, nieces and nephews to be careful because you are giving that up.
The next thing would be multi-factor authentication (2FA)! Switch those on EVERYWHERE especially for WhatsApp. It's an extra layer of security that makes a lot of difference and I'm surprised at the number of people who don't switch it on in the most important apps especially messaging apps. Someone I know recently had her WhatsApp account hacked and it got in the way of her work as she couldn't access it for five days. 2FA could've totally stopped that from happening. Lastly, hackers and scammers are getting so much smarter. Be on the lookout for links that are circulating around emails or messages. If it looks suspicious, don't click on it. Call that person and ask if it's a legitimate link.
“If it looks suspicious, don't click on it.”
I always think of design as the real world. At P&G they had this amazing thing that they ingrained into us: design is execution because execution is the only strategy your consumers see. If you've failed your whole execution, you've failed your whole strategy. Design is everything, it's the living and breathing version of our product. Some examples of what we're doing with design is launching our new website and we're also looking at ramping up our UX and UI now that we're starting to move across the early access stage of things. Now that's a super hard question to answer in front of designers!
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