All Dov Kruger wants from his bank is his account balance.
“In order to get [just] that information now I’d need to create a custom app, which is a headache,” he said, referring to the fact that signing into his bank’s website means waiting for ads, images, updates and other content he doesn’t need (and information he may not want shared between his bank and computer) to load before he can access his own information.
“I want to make a program that makes accessing information from a computer as easy as it used to be—and just as efficient as a custom app.”
Professor Kruger teaches in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. Kruger is working on a new protocol, or method of data exchange over a computer network, called CSP. CSP is an acronym for Communicating Sequential Processes. It began as a way to make data transmission between computers and the internet faster and more efficient. Particularly with transactions that should be simple, like checking an account balance.
If Kruger has his way, CSP would get you your account balance almost in the blink of an eye. It would share far less information, too.
CSP would use a compiler to determine which parts of any web page contains dynamic content (i.e., data that changes, like your bank balance) and decorative content (i.e., pretty much everything else). The entire page would be packaged as a single .ZIP file and downloaded permanently to your secure browser. Whenever you load the page in your browser, CSP would tell the program on the server to send only the dynamic data. In your browser, that data would be combined with the zip file you downloaded to generate the full page.
Thousands of times faster than current web pages generate.
On any platform that uses a browser.
CSP is also incredibly safe. It would use digital authentication instead of passwords, meaning you would never type your account ID and password into your bank’s login screen again. Instead, the bank would ask your computer to prove your identity by decoding a secret message with your own personal secret key. You would never have to memorize it, either, because CSP would securely embed it in your computer.
“Every website would have its own match to your key,” Kruger explained, “and each one would be hundreds of digits long. [Because] you don’t know your key, you would never accidentally reveal it in a phishing attack, like John Podesta did at the Democratic National Committee. You’ll never be tricked into handing over your most sensitive information.” If your computer is stolen or hacked, the key would be encrypted in a way where only you would be able to open it.
CSP is using encryption technology in a new way, much like PGP for email and blockchain for transaction records. Those features are also immensely beneficial for servers that fend off millions of attacks per day.
CSP would be a faster, safer, automated and completely seamless way for banks to business than banks’ current IT infrastructure allows. It would also use less computing power, requiring fewer servers. It would also be more cost-effective and eco-friendly, since using fewer servers would save both money and electricity.
Right now, Kruger’s students are testing some of CSP’s ideas. They’ve spent the last year testing proof of concept in class, and shared their progress at Stevens Annual Innovation Expo on May 3. The technology works; it’s just not as polished as they’d like it to be. Yet.
Kruger’s also filed a patent on the technology. But he’s so committed to the idea that he’s creating a company to develop it commercially; he’s got a prestigious VP of development working on the business development plan right now. Once that’s finished, he’ll approach venture capitalists for funding.
ECE professor Victor Lawrence, a former VP of Bell Labs, was an enormous help to Kruger with this stage. “As former head of Bell Labs research, professor Victor Lawrence knows everyone. He uses that to get things done,” Kruger said. “He’s a hidden gem in this department.”
The biggest surprise of CSP might be that it isn’t new technology. “Fifteen, 20 years ago there were ways to have two computers talk to each other efficiently,” Kruger said, describing the origins of CSP. But as the world wide web evolved, the dominant way to communicate became inefficient. “The way I’m using binary communications and encryption [with this method] is new.”