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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2020

Norio Fujita, Soft Giken Founder and Representative Director: ‘We Will Strive to Improve our Services and Increase the Number of Accounts by Collaborating with Companies around the World to Expand Globally’

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“Soft Giken will make the open technology of FIDO easy to use and provide it to service providers, service system builders, and in-house information system departments not only in Japan but also globally.”

Floods are the most common natural disaster across several continents, but traditionally flood prediction methods are focused only on the main stems of the largest rivers – overlooking extensive tributary networks where flooding starts, and where flash floods threaten lives and property.

Now, new flood prediction technologies can simulate thousands of river branches at a time and could scale further to predict the behavior of tens of thousands of branches simultaneously.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Soft Giken — dedicated to developing systems by making full use of IT technology based on the idea of ‘making every world better’.

The company was incorporated in 1983 and is headquartered in Tokyo.

Norio Fujita, Soft Giken Founder and Representative Director, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Briefly describe the service.

Social infrastructure system business

Social infrastructure for safe and comfortable living closely related to residents' lives, such as a river information system that predicts the occurrence of flood damage, an atmospheric environment system that constantly monitors the state of air pollution, and a road monitoring system that provides road conditions of freeways. Soft Giken provides the systems.

Security solutions [YubiOn] business

Soft Giken provides security solutions that support everything from two-factor PC logon to groupware (G Suite, etc.) authentication. The following services are available.

YubiOn portal services [YubiOn for Windows/Mac with YubiKey] and [YubiOn FIDO2 Windows LogOn] that enhance PC (Windows & Mac) logon security with two-factor authentication.

We sell the latest FIDO2 compatible [YubiOn FIDO2® Server Service], [YubiOn FIDO2® Appliance Server], and external authentication devices.

Q. What is the river information system? How is this used to provide safety and security?

Soft Giken has been involved in the development of river information systems for over 30 years.

It automatically collects and processes various data in real-time, such as rainfall, the water level of rivers, and observation data such as the amount of water flowing in rivers, weather information from meteorological observation satellites, and rainfall radars, and video information from surveillance cameras that monitor rivers. In the event of a flood, the system will notify residents by email and broadcast of accurate and reliable information.

Besides, the data collected via the Internet is open to the public.

Q. Please tell us about the disaster prevention information security system.

Soft Giken's current main business is the construction of disaster prevention information security systems that support social safety. Since its founding, we have been entrusted with the development of large-scale social systems all at once, and are engaged in numerous projects. The system collects the data measured on-site via the network and puts it in a database to output the necessary information. We have been developing the Internet and web application development services using the communication application technology accumulated in this business. Based on these, we are developing our own security solutions ‘YubiOn’ that secures the entrance to the PC and deploying it as a business.

Q. What are the challenges in development?

The scale of disasters has expanded due to the effects of global warming, making it difficult to make predictions using past data. Moreover, due to unexpected heavy rain and large-scale typhoons, it is expected to collect real-time data in a short time, improve communication infrastructure, and use advanced AI to predict disasters with high accuracy. In terms of development method, it is necessary to review from waterfall type to agile type development.

The following are important and urgent issues for security solutions. IT-related security incidents and security incidents, weak security policies of legacy systems, user requests such as release from the complexity of password management, and strengthening the safety of remote connection in the current COVID-19 measures.

Q. Describe your data management system briefly.

The YubiOn portal allows to deploy authentication devices (YubiKey etc.) and centrally manage and control user and PC information in the cloud for organizations with tens of thousands of people. Clients can easily realize security enhancement by two-factor authentication, reduce ID management man-hours, and reduce costs.

To work with Windows logon, install the software on the PC. For management, we provide a management site on the cloud. Clients can save the trouble of separately preparing and managing the Server, etc.

If clients want to strengthen the authentication of PCs that handle extremely important information, we provide ‘YubiOn Standalone’. Clients can perform two-factor authentication using YubiKey for Windows logon without preparing an external authentication server.

Q. What are the likely trends in the security segment?

ID and password easily lead to information leakage. The authentication method will shift from the mainstream one-time passwords currently to two-factor authentication and then password-free secure authentication using FIDO2.

Soft Giken provides a two-factor authentication service using the YubiOn solution.

Spread of ‘passwordless society’. By developing the YubiOn FIDO2 service, Soft Giken will enable the safe use of service entrances in various business fields. Besides, we will realize a ‘passwordless society’ by using biometric authentication and security devices such as YubiKey and IdemCard sold by Soft Giken for Web applications for PCs and smartphones.

Q. What are the benefits and advantages offered through the solution/service?

Soft Giken's mission is to ‘make every world better’ to create a society in which anyone can handle all 'information in the world safely and securely.

With YubiOn, you can reduce the operational cost and labor of IT asset management while improving security by strengthening authentication. The spare time that has been born should be allocated to new data utilization and in-house service development. ‘By using YubiOn, we want the information systems department to focus on new challenges such as digital transformation.’

Q. How do you market your service?

We have deployed the YubiOn service. Since joining the FIDO Alliance in 2014, we have contributed to the spread of the ‘passwordless society’ that the FIDO Alliance is aiming for. By developing services that can safely use service entrances in various business fields, we market to service providers, service system builders, and managers of corporate information system departments.

Soft Giken is not limited to providing ‘YubiOn solutions’ that it developed in-house but is expanding its alliances with companies related to authentication technology globally.

By doing so, we will verify and evaluate various FIDO-certified external authenticators and provide optimal solutions and devices to clients.

We are actively using digital advertisements and SNS.

Q. What is the trajectory for the next five years?

-By supporting all of the ‘YubiOn Solutions’ with the ever-evolving FIDO, we will strive to improve our services and increase the number of accounts by collaborating with companies around the world to expand globally. At the same time, Soft Giken will make the open technology of FIDO easy to use and provide it to service providers, service system builders, and in-house information system departments not only in Japan but also globally.

-Aiming to be a company that can provide total security solutions. To that end, we will expand the business domain such as expanding the scope of security application and providing safe management of data.

-Furthermore, we aim to ‘make every world better’ by creating new services that utilize the latest security technologies in the world.

Norio Fujita: Founder and Representative Director

Norio Fujita, founder, serves as the Representative Director of Soft Giken Co., Ltd. He believes that software is a collection of ‘knowledge’, ‘wisdom’, and ‘intelligence’. With the mission of ‘make every world better’ to contribute to the world through software, he is still positively driving the company.

After building a steel-related system at Mitsubishi Electric, he started a social infrastructure (river, road, atmosphere, etc. monitoring and disaster prevention information management) system construction business that contributes to public safety. This is still the main business of Soft Giken.

In 2010, He believed that a system that protects society's safety and security is important, and began developing a security solution [YubiOn] at the entrance of a PC using YubiKey (Yubico). The origin of the name, ‘Yubi’, means finger in Japanese. YubiKey can authenticate the PC more safely by touching it with a finger.

‘YubiOn Standalone’, which was originally developed, is a solution that combines YubiKey with software that enables PC logon with two-factor authentication even in an environment without a computer network. Soft Giken focused on YubiKey early in Japan and started selling it.

Next, he added a management function to ‘YubiOn Standalone’ and developed a ‘YubiOn Portal’ that allows you to operate the management site on the cloud. Besides, Soft Giken has joined the FIDO Alliance and has developed the ‘YubiOn FIDO2® Server’ by incorporating the FIDO standard into YubiOn and has expanded the area of security solutions [YubiOn]. Also, with the keyword ‘better things from the world’, Soft Giken ordered FIDO-certified external authenticators (Yubico, GoTrust ID, AuthenTrend Technology, etc.) from all over the world, verify and evaluate them at Soft Giken. Soft Giken sells devices that meet the requirements of clients as YubiOn solutions in Japan.

“We aim to become a leading company in a new era with the technologies we have cultivated over many years in software development and the new technologies we have always introduced.”