As the former vice president of IT for G5, Lewis Howell has long been interested in protecting the data and securing the privacy of companies. Now the founder of Bend-based Hueya (pronounced Who-Ya) has developed product aimed at providing enterprise-level IT security to individuals.

“We’re already vulnerable, we can’t pretend we aren’t,” Howell says. “But we can be proactive about discovering and monitoring what information about us is available .” He started the project 10 months ago, diving deep into how identity thieves are mining social media for the intimate details of people’s lives.

He left G5 last Halloween with an idea for how to stop them — or at least make their jobs harder.

Lewis Howell, founder of Hueya. Looks nice, but hes a ninja when it comes to online privacy.
Lewis Howell, founder of Hueya. Looks nice, but he’s also ninja when it comes to online privacy.

Putting it out there

Howell explains that what we think is locked down is often still available to dirt bags searching inside of social media networks (versus searching Google). They can then use that information to steal your identity and create fake profiles in your name, with all sorts of bad intentions such as scamming people for money. Even more alarming: Howell notes that fake friends — people who have friended you with malicious intentions — are common, and of course, they have access to everything you post.

At the core of Hueya’s first product is a vulnerability scan, which assesses how much of the information that you believe is private and/or shared only with friends is actually available to black hatters lurking on your social media channels. The scan produces two fascinating — and possibly unsettling — results. The first is “your story,” a detailed narrative of your life pieced together via social media postings that strangers can find.

A recent Hueya scan of one of Howell’s friends revealed the names, ages and birthdays of his friend’s children, the name of his wife, where they lived, their children’s elementary school and even the fact that he liked skiing and biking. “Hackers and people attempting to steal your identity have access to all of that with one click,” Howell says.

Your privacy score

The second result of the scan is a privacy score — a number between 0 and 500 that functions like a credit score. A score on the higher end means your Internet information is locked down tight, while scores under 400 mean you’re at some level of risk. Hueya then provides users with steps they can take to improve their score. “It’s about what you’re comfortable with,” Howell says.

Howell is still working with his team to finalize a second MVP. As of now, he’s aiming to create a SaaS model that allows individuals to scan and then regularly monitor their Internet privacy. Future versions of the product could be used at an enterprise level for compliance and other data security purposes.

Howell came to Bend via Boulder, a veteran of the first Internet boom. Hueya is currently bootstrapped and Howell plans to raise a pre-seed round from family and friends. He’s worked at several startups and tech companies. He’s now applying lessons learned to his own — and hoping to help people take back some of their online privacy in the process.

“We’ve reached a point with online culture in which we believe we’ve lost the right to our own information,” he says. “At Hueya, we are empowering users to reclaim their online privacy.”

Startup: Hueya (pronounced Who-Ya)
Founded: November 2015
Founder: Lewis Howell, former vp of IT for G5
More info: Check out the Hueya blog and Twitter account for information and thought leadership on privacy, online security and you.
Something to note: Hats off to G5 for not just being an anchor of the tech and startup community, but for spinning out other startups, including Hueya and Steady Budget. That’s how it works people.

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley