TL; DR: Data privacy can be murky territory for the everyday user. We have concerns but are often too preoccupied to learn more to protect ourselves or go through those 15 sliders on a company’s website to decline their cookies. Cloaked makes protecting your personal information simple with its all-in-one browser extension and mobile app. Users can leverage Cloaked to create unique virtual identities for their favorite accounts, including Uber, Walmart, Spotify, and Hulu. In one click, Cloaked generates new email addresses, phone numbers, usernames, and passwords so you won’t have to share your data. We spoke with Arjun Bhatnagar, Co-Founder and CEO of Cloaked, about the platform’s unique capabilities and security architecture.
Online surveillance and tracking have become a prominent and pressing issue for everyday users. Awareness of data privacy breaches has skyrocketed in recent years, and internet users aren’t happy. By now, most of us know what cookies are, and they’re not the sweet and gooey kind. Although the internet lingo tries its best to sound less intrusive than it is, cookies are just another indicator of how vulnerable our data has become.
According to Pew Research, 79% of Americans said they had concerns about their data privacy in 2020. That number has jumped to 92% in 2023, based on a report by Cloaked. Controlling access to personal data hasn’t become easier, especially since everything has moved online. And using other tools, such as VPNs and privacy software, can be complex or don’t provide enough protection on their own.
Most of us wish we could have a magical cloak to protect our personal information while we browse the web. All it would require is putting it on, and you’re invisible to companies and other digital entities sniffing your trail. Cloaked may not sell that spellbinding garment, but it does have a similar solution.
“Cloaked’s goal is to put people in control of their data and, ultimately, their identity. We want to make privacy not this impossible, unattainable goal but one meant for everyday people. And it is an achievable goal,” Arjun Bhatnagar, Co-Founder and CEO of Cloaked.
Cloaked is a browser extension and mobile app that protects user personal information from online surveillance by creating unique virtual identities for their online activities. Cloaked can provide users with new email addresses, phone numbers, and credit card numbers in one click so individuals and companies can never track their actual data. Users can leverage Cloaked for everything from ride-sharing and house-hunting to online dating and streaming.
A Simple Data Protection Tool for Everyday People
Cloaked is a consumer-first privacy solution. With so many cybersecurity companies moving toward enterprise solutions, Cloaked focuses on bringing privacy to individuals. Arjun said the Cloaked team wants to flip the narrative and put users on the same playing field as businesses.
“Everyone in the privacy space is focused on anonymization and security. We’re working to fit privacy within the way people behave to make their lives better,” said Arjun.
Cloaked sets out to simplify data protection and make it less daunting for users to implement into their daily routines. So the Cloaked team built its software to resemble a password manager. Users don’t have to remember anything, and Cloaked appears in their browser whenever needed. Cloaking your identity is as simple as that.
“What it does is when you’re browsing online or in person, we create a real working phone number, email, username, password, and soon credit card. It’s not a throwaway burner, but a real working piece of data,” said Arjun.
Cloaked generates unique credentials for various accounts and subscriptions so users don’t have to give away personal information. It’s an everyday privacy solution that works with all platforms, including Uber, Zillow, Hinge, etc. Cloaked currently only creates new identities using generated phone numbers, usernames, passwords, and email addresses.
But soon, it will launch Cloaked Pay in 2024, which will create real card numbers locked to their respective merchants. Cloaked Pay will allow users to set spending limits and rules, and transactions will be tied to their underlying credit, debit, or ACH accounts.
“Behind the scenes, we are a full credit card issuance stack. We worked with the banks and the networks and built a lot of deep technology to make the experience simple. So we built a lot of the plumbing and platforms to make this a comprehensive experience,” said Arjun.
Centered on Security, Privacy, and Comfort
Arjun said Cloaked has three primary layers: security, privacy, and comfort. Together, they provide a holistic solution to solve user issues. Cloaked has taken each of these layers and built technology to match them.
“Fundamentally, starting at the very beginning, we spin up a brand new database for every single user. That’s how the whole journey begins when you make an account. So we are separating user data from even our own infrastructure,” said Arjun.
Cloaked has integrated encryption and a zero-knowledge system into the platform to combat attacks and maintain data privacy. Its software allows data to live and encrypts it with a key, meaning individual user information does not connect to Cloaked. This separation makes it harder for hackers to access and steal data. Cloaked also wears many hats to ensure comfort and a seamless user experience.
“We’re quietly a full telecom company. We purchase, manage, and route the text and calls ourselves to make the experience seamless,” said Arjun.
Consumers can use their native applications, such as iMessage, and Cloaked will route the calls and text messages to those applications for them. For example, if you sign up with Robinhood for text alerts using one of Cloaked’s generated numbers, Cloaked will route those text messages to your iMessage. It does the same with email since it is also a full email service company.
AutoCloak is another one of its solutions that simplifies data privacy management. It is currently in Beta and handles breach resolution. It allows users to replace multiple identities in bulk with secure email addresses, phone numbers, usernames, and passwords.
“Because we are a browser extension and zero-knowledge, we can do this on the client side. We can programmatically go to your accounts, help change your email, password, and phone number, and replace information. So when a breach comes in, AutoCloak takes over and updates everything,” said Arjun.
Privacy and Personalization Can Coexist
The Cloaked team is working to show that privacy isn’t dead and that solutions can be created to combat data infringement. Arjun also believes users can have the best of both worlds: data privacy and personalization.
“People like to feel known online. They don’t want to feel surveilled. It’s not about anonymization and hiding everywhere. It’s this idea that people like personalization and customization, and they don’t want to get compromised in that process,” said Arjun.
He thinks the key is collaborating with businesses to make data collection more consensual and transparent. Data privacy doesn’t have to be a shadowy figure that average users don’t understand. It can be simple and attainable.
“We want to ensure that personalization is in the hands of people, not this black box thing. By having consumers in control, businesses will be able to create richer experiences down the road,” said Arjun.