As regularly covered on our pages, as rail and metro has adopted more automated, wireless and connected technologies their most safety-critical assets have become exposed to new and more dangerous types of cyber-attacks. These attacks can threaten passenger safety, disrupt service, and cause severe economic damage. Legacy components and many communication protocols throughout the railway industry were never designed with cybersecurity in mind and are in critical need of the a new kind of network protection. For hundreds of millions of train and metro passengers around the world, the need for a more robust network security has never been more critical. And now an Israeli startup, Cylus, is hoping to help meet the cybersecurity challenges that our industry faces, and has this week announced it raised $4.7 million in seed funding.
Cylus certainly has the mix of experience required to help face down the cyber criminals. Founded in Tel Aviv, by veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Intelligence Corps’ elite technological intelligence and security units, and by Boaz Zafrir a former CEO of Israel Railways and Zohar Zisapel, Chairman of the RAD Group, and several cyber mobility startups.
“Current approaches to cybersecurity do not fit the architecture of railway networks today,” said Cylus CEO Amir Levintal. “Our team of world-class cyber specialists together with rail industry experts have tailored a solution to the industry’s unique requirements. Our solution enables rail companies to detect cyber-attacks in their operational network, including their signalling systems and rolling stocks, and block attackers before they can cause any damage. The automotive industry has woken up to the critical need for cyber protection– it’s time the railway industry got on board as well.”
In recent years, rail companies in the US, UK, Germany, South Korea and Sweden have all been targeted by hackers. This dramatic rise in threat levels has raised awareness regarding significant security deficits throughout the rail industry. New technologies are regularly being introduced for safety, train control, and passenger convenience, but until now, no comprehensive solution has been created to sufficiently protect the rail industry from malicious cyberattacks.
“Railway companies cannot compromise on passenger safety, and one of the pillars of passenger safety is cybersecurity,” said Boaz Zafrir, President of Cylus and the former CEO of Israel Railways. “Railway executives are acutely aware of the dangers and are looking for answers. The extraordinary team at Cylus has rich experience creating effective cybersecurity solutions, and I am confident that the company's unique technology will help keep passengers safe all over the world.”
“Train attacks are no longer science fiction,” said investor and co-founder of Cylus, Zohar Zisapel. “Trains, passengers and critical railway infrastructure are undoubtedly high-quality targets for hackers. Cylus is laser-focused on protecting railway systems while enabling customers to swiftly adapt new technologies to reduce the risk to the public.”
"We are continuing to invest in startups in the cyber industry," said Yoram Oron, Founder and Managing Partner of Vertex Venture Capital and Chairman of Cylus. "Recently, there has been an increase in the scope and intensity of cyber-attacks that cause actual physical harm. We believe that Cylus’ experienced team of security specialists and entrepreneurs and its strategic approach will provide a unique response to growing cyber-threats around the world."
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