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Tresorit ups the ante with its new $25,000 challenge for hackers

The guys at Hungarian startup Tresorit have put a higher bounty on their own heads to lure the most talented “white hat” hackers in the world. Starting December 11, Tresorit is offering a $25,000 prize to anyone who can hack the layers of their defenses.

Tresorit is intended to be a cloud-based, secure version of Dropbox. The Budapest-based startup was founded by computer engineering grads of Hungary’s top technical university, the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, and counts Levente Buttyan, a professor of cryptography and the head of the CrySyS Lab, among its advisers. The founders often boast that their infrastructure is complex and potentially even “indecipherable.” Tresorit leverages patented encryption methods, incorporating the AES-256 protocol (which government agencies use), to protect its software from hackers.

Tresorit was even willing to bet on that security, offering a $10,000 hacker bounty to anyone who could penetrate its defenses. It set up a test bed for this challenge — populated with virtual (fake) user data and offered all takers admin rights to take go for it. That challenge was issued in April when the service went to public beta and to date no one has claimed the prize.

Starting December 11, Tresorit is raising the stakes wit a new challenge, now offering a $25,000 prize to anyone who can hack the layers of defenses protecting their data. Tresorit plans to promote the challenge to hackers on community sites like Reddit and HackerNews as well as reaching out directly to security experts at top universities. The founders believe that only the most talented developers from institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT have a shot at breaking through layers of encryption.

It may seem like a publicity stunt, but the founders believe that inviting hacks will expose potential holes with their system. “Our aim is to kickstart continuous, large-scale penetration testing of Tresorit by asking top experts in the field to test our technology,” said Tresorit spokesperson Szabolcs Nagy.

Tresorit was founded in 2011, received $1.7 million in funding last year from Euroventures and nine private investors, and is now freshly out of beta. The firm has strong security cred as a spinoff of Hungarian security outfit CrySys Lab, which was responsible for identifying the notorious Duqu worm.