Karamba raises $12 million to stop cyberattacks on self-driving cars

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【Summary】An Israeli company called Karamba Security has recently raised a Series B round of $12 million, using its technology to secure data from cyberattacks on connected cars.

Original Claire    May 17, 2017 11:05 AM PT
Karamba raises $12 million to stop cyberattacks on self-driving cars

When more and more cars are fully autonomous and connected in the future, people will enjoy the convenience of information sharing. But connectivity is a double edged sword, and also poses challenges to prevent personal information leaks. It gives hackers the opportunity to break into your car's network and cause disruptions.

To solve this problem, a series of startups have been popping up focusing on network security in the automotive technology field. An Israeli company called Karamba Security has recently raised a Series B round of $12 million, led by its existing investors including Fontinalis Partners, YL Ventures, along with new investors including Paladin Capital Group and Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures. The company is trying to use its unique technology to secure data from a car's infotainment system, GPS device, and roadside assistance programs, to protect it from any cyberattacks.

"We make sure that only what's part of the factory settings can run," said David Barzilai, Karamba's co-founder and executive chairman. "Once we recognize foreign code, we prevent it from executing, effectively blocking any attack. Our deterministic approach stands in sharp contrast to network-based solutions that rely on probabilities to try to identify attacks in progress and block them, an unreliable technique that creates safety risks by potentially blocking legitimate commands."

How does it work?

Most operations in a vehicle are controlled by their own designated electronic control unit (ECU), which manage things like navigation, entertainment, or more critical systems such as braking and fuel injection. All ECUs in a car operate on just one network, which means, if hackers get access to just one ECU, they could control all of the systems in the vehicle.

Karamba's security software will be installed on the ECUs, either as a retrofit, or before the units are built into new cars. The software can help lock in the factory settings of each control unit, and prevents any foreign code or banned cyber-behaviors from running on them.

What can cyberattacks do to cars?

Last year, Chinese security researchers successfully hacked into a Tesla Model S from 12 miles away, interfering its electronically-controlled features such as brakes, door locks, and vehicle display screen. In 2015, FCA recalled 1.4 million vehicles in order to fix a software hole, which was revealed by cybersecurity experts who could easily hack into a 2015 Jeep Cherokee's head unit and get access to other systems.

Back to October last year, Futurecar has reported that Karamba raised $2.5 million from its Series A fund. Founded in 2015, the company since Seed round has collected $17 million so far. Within 15 months, the company has been connected with 16 automobile OEM's and Tier-1 suppliers. The company was selected as the cyber prevention vendor of choice by major industry leaders.

According to GSMA association, the market for connected cars is estimated to be worth $43.48 billion by 2018.. With the booming of connected car industry, the position of cybersecurity companies will be higher in the automobile industrial chain.

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