Karamba Security raised $2.5 million to keep cars safe from hackers

Karamba Security raised $2.5 million to keep cars safe from hackers

    Oct 14, 2016 10:30 PM  PT
Karamba Security raised $2.5 million to keep cars safe from hackers
author: Claire   

By Claire Pu

When a car is equipped with multifunctional installations -- such as GPS navigation, entertainment systems that offer streaming music and bluetooth door locks — the more a vehicle is connected to the Internet, the higher the risks become for hacker attacks to the car.

A startup based in Israel recently raised $2.5 million in new Series A funding venture to protect internet-connected cars and self-driving vehicles from hacking attacks.

Karamba Security, a cybersecurity company based in Hod Hasharon of Israel, began getting the funding from Fontinalis Partners, a venture firm that is focused on mobility and transportation-related technologies. And Karamba's early seed funders YL Ventures and GlenRock were also involved.

"We focus on mobility meaning the movement of people, goods and services powered by technology. We've invested in road, rail, bikes, marine and artificial intelligence technology but this is our first security deal," Fontinalis Partners' Chris Thomas said, according to TechCrunch.

He expects Karamba to use its new funding to make inroads with automotive companies, especially major suppliers of components and technology to original equipment manufacturers.

So how does Karamba's product work on cars? According to Karamba co-founder David Barzilai, the startup's technology can head off hackers at the pass by "hardening" the controllers, or small computers, within a vehicle that are externally-connected.

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 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.

Recently, Chinese security researchers successfully hacked into a Tesla Model S from 12 miles away,  to interfere with the electronically-controlled features in the car, like its brakes, door locks and computer screen on its dashboard. To prevent the hackers from bringing dangerous consequences to a driving vehicle, the newest extension to Karamba's cybersecurity software ensures that no valid operations are blocked as false positives, impacting the safe operation of a vehicle when suspicious behaviors are identified.

"The risk of a car hack is lost lives," said Ami Dotan, CEO and co-founder of Karamba Security, in its recent media release, "Any security approach that's vulnerable to false positives or delayed decision-making isn't providing sufficient security. ECUs have to be able to protect themselves to prevent intrusions. Karamba's Autonomous Security hardens ECUs with a complete security solution that no one else offers."

Resources from: TechCrunch