JumpWire (YC W22) – Easily encrypt customer data in your databases

Hi HN! We are William and Ryan, co-founders of JumpWire (https://jumpwire.ai), a security tool that encrypts columns of sensitive data stored in databases, in a way that works automatically with any backend application.

We've built startups (Ryan was Dir. of Engineering at N26) and worked in big tech (William was SRE at Spotify), and in every company, saw the same pattern of data spreading out of control. It felt like a dirty secret: hundreds of employees are granted access to customer PII through internal systems. Engineers responsible for securing data end up in a race against a growing list of SaaS or internal tools in use across the organization, and fall back to using bad access management workflows. Trying to secure data by controlling access is a risky proposition on its own — data leaks due to compromised access have become an all-too-regular occurrence, e.g. Uber contractor breach in September as a recent example.

Companies that outgrow the access control approach typically do one of two things. Either developers have to write custom logic into all of their applications to encrypt/decrypt data, or they partition the data by putting some fields in a data vault and others in the main database. Both options are costly in terms of implementation work and ongoing maintenance. We’ve seen entire teams dedicated to just maintaining ETL pipelines for scrubbing PII into secondary databases!

JumpWire automates the encryption of data by identifying fields that contain sensitive information in databases and APIs. We do this without developers needing to modify their applications or manage access control rules. You define policies that determine how data should be handled—for a ‘user’ record, this might mean that the email address, name, and birthday are labeled as ‘PII’ and encrypted while signup date and favorite type of cheese are not.

JumpWire is a transparent proxy between applications and a database. The application connects using the same library it would if it was going directly to the database, and JumpWire intercepts and inspects queries before forwarding them on. Based on policies you define, individual fields can be encrypted/decrypted, nulled out, or audited as the requests and responses flow through the proxy. These policies are designed to be granular and map to table-specific schemas—for example, a policy might say to encrypt all PII, and the users table has a schema marking email address as PII. Different access controls can be applied to allow a subset of applications to bypass the policies where needed.

Because our proxies implement the underlying database protocols, application code or clients do not have to be changed to work with JumpWire.

The product is built to be self-hosted. The main component, our proxy engine, is run on your network as a cluster of Docker containers. The web interface is run by us by default but is also available to self-host. Our engine uses your own AWS KMS or HashiCorp Vault installation to store sensitive configuration data, such as database credentials and encryption keys. This ensures that confidential data is never transmitted across the Internet, and you remain in full control of the data infrastructure and keys. We do have a hosted Vault option as well to make it easy to get started or try things out in a staging environment.

Our database proxy supports PostgreSQL and MySQL/MariaDB, and DynamoDB is in beta. We also have an API proxy in early alpha that uses OpenAPI specs instead of connecting directly to a DB.

We actually built similar (but half-baked) versions of this at startups we were part of (a neobank and payment API), but it was always part of backend application code. We realized it could be abstracted out of the application entirely, and integrated via configuration instead. This would be easier to maintain, since application code wouldn’t need updating each time data policies changed. However, building it was never feasible at these other companies, because it was too remote from their core products. So we decided to start JumpWire to do it.

We have a free-as-in-beer version of our product available to use in small environments. After that we charge a monthly subscription fee based on the number of databases or APIs configured.

We’re still early and would love to hear what you think about what we’re building, as well as any general thoughts on data security. Thanks!



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andrey azimov by Andrey Azimov