These days, GPS is much more than just a component for navigating with Waze. Major industries are building their business model around it, whether it be autonomous vehicles, food delivery, drones, Ride Share services like Uber and Lyft, as well as dozens of other different businesses. All eyes are focused on this old and simple component, which is susceptible to hacks that can cause extensive damage. Israeli startup, Regulus Cyber, develops security and protection software for GPS systems in vehicles and was successful in making a significant change to its product over the past few years.
Hackers can take over your car with free software and a kit worth a couple of hundred dollars
GPS Spoofing is a pretty easy and common cyber-attack that can imitate the signal of a legitimate satellite, disrupting a vehicle’s security, and in extreme cases even driving an autonomous vehicle off the road. Originally, Regulus Cyber developed hardware that actually protects GPS systems by distinguishing between valid satellite signals and other invalid sources - like hackers.
Just a year ago, in fact, using a similar technique, Regulus Cyber experts successfully hacked and drove a Tesla Model 3 off the road. As part of a European testing trial, the Israeli vehicle security experts succeeded in making Tesla’s internal navigation system, Navigate on Autopilot, abruptly slow down the vehicle thinking it was at an intersection. Even though it was nowhere near one, it still caused the car to stop and try to make a turn in the middle of the highway.
In a talk with Geektime, Regulus CMO, Roi Mit explained that the company had made a significant change over the last few years: “We realized that the hardware product would be limited to very few industries. Therefore, we successfully developed software that achieves the same exact result. In the world of GPS security, creating protection based strictly on software is considered an exceptional achievement.” Mit added that the company discovered specific characteristics in the GPS signal, which can actually be used to protect from fake signals. Meaning, there is no need to depend on hardware anymore, thus opening up quite a few potential new clients for the company.
Fundraising in the moments before COVID-19 became a global problem
On May 18th, Regulus revealed that it had raised $4 million as a conversion loan, led by SPDG Ventures, with contributions from btov Partners, which previously invested in Israeli company OrCam, and Rainer Häupl, former COO at Mercedes Benz and Daimler AG. According to company reports, the recent funding is part of a bigger series B funding round which will soon come to a close. The company also announced a new partnership with Samsung’s subsidiary Harman, integrating the software in its company-vehicle security system, Harman Shield.
Mit revealed that the current funding round was completed before the COVID problem went global: “I must point out, that for us the Chinese market is very important, and when we received the funds, the Chinese market had already returned to action. We were very confident and had no doubt that we would succeed through the crisis. Our product serves a multitude of different industries, therefore we knew that the crisis wouldn’t drastically affect our area of expertise.”
Behind Regulus stands cybersecurity experts, Yonatan Zur (CEO) and Yoav Zangvil (CTO). The company has 10 employees working at its offices in Haifa, Israel. Thus far the company has successfully raised $10 million.