Startup Cybellum teams up with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi on car cybersecurity

After developing software to scan vehicles for risks, the startup will work with the car alliance in its Tel Aviv lab to build solutions for the automotive market

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Slava Bronfman, Cybellum CEO, left to right, with Etienne Barbier, director at the Alliance Innovation Lab Tel Aviv and 
Eldad Raziel, cybersecurity leader at the Alliance Innovation Lab Tel Aviv (Courtesy)
Slava Bronfman, Cybellum CEO, left to right, with Etienne Barbier, director at the Alliance Innovation Lab Tel Aviv and Eldad Raziel, cybersecurity leader at the Alliance Innovation Lab Tel Aviv (Courtesy)

Israeli cybersecurity startup Cybellum will join forces with an innovation hub in Tel Aviv set up by car makers Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi to build new cybersecurity solutions for the automotive market.

The collaboration follows a successful proof of concept of Cybellum’s solution held at The Alliance Innovation Lab, which was set up by the three car makers in Tel Aviv last year to tap into cutting edge technologies for the vehicles of the future in the fields of electrification, connected vehicles and services, autonomous driving, and new mobility services.

Cybersecurity is a major part of this effort, the Alliance Innovation Lab and Cybellum said in a joint statement.

The news of the collaboration comes as the UN sets out regulation on cybersecurity and software updates that will come into force in January 2021 and pave the way for the “mass roll out of connected vehicles.”

Cars today hold up to 150 electronic control units and about 100 million lines of software code, four times more than a fighter jet, the UN said at publication of its regulations on June 25. This number is projected to surge to 300 million lines of code by 2030.

All of this brings with it “significant cybersecurity risks,” the UN said, as hackers seek to access electronic systems and data, which will threaten vehicle safety and consumer privacy.

Cybellum has developed software to holistically assess cybersecurity risk in the car, as opposed to assessing risk at a single component level or manually, as is often done today.

The startup’s technology can automatically detect a wide range of vulnerabilities in the car’s engine control units and other automotive software by scanning embedded software components without needing access to their source code. Manufacturers can then take action to eliminate any cyber risk in the development and production process before any harm is done, while monitoring for other threats.

“Our collaboration with Cybellum will bring to the market the first solution that can calculate the risk of a vulnerability in the full vehicle context, help the Alliance brands to manage the risk accurately, save time and be competitively prepared for upcoming regulations,” said Eldad Raziel, cybersecurity leader at The Alliance Innovation Lab.

The startup already partners with 10 original equipment car manufacturers and
Tier-1 suppliers worldwide, the statement said.

“At the Lab, we are looking into fresh, novel approaches to the most fundamental problems in our industry, among which cybersecurity,” said Etienne Barbier, director at innovation lab in a statement. “Managing software security is no longer an optional activity for car manufacturers but a mandatory transformation to a future with fully automated, self-assessed, self-healing software. The Cybellum team built the technology foundation necessary to make this future a reality.”

The cooperation with the Alliance will seek to use the Cybellum solutions “to gain full, ongoing visibility” to the cybersecurity risk of vehicles and get the necessary guidance on risk remediation, the statement said.

The expertise of the car makers regarding the “current and future vehicle architectures together with the importance of security as a significant part of it, creates a shared vision of how automotive software lifecycle should evolve to meet the new market realities,” said Slava Bronfman, Cybellum CEO, in the statement.

The Lab collaborates with the local innovation ecosystem through joint prototyping efforts. To date it has led more than 15 collaborative projects and proof of concept trials with Israeli startups. The Lab provides startups with space to test technologies with real vehicles, as well as on a team of engineers permanently located in Israel.

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