Check Point Takes on Car Hackers With Help of Israeli Startup

  • Argus Cyber Security technology aims to detect, stop attacks
  • Connected cars `multi-billion dollar' opportunity for vendors

Check Point Software Technologies, the world’s leading firewall provider, plans to supply anti-hacking protection for automobiles in partnership with Argus Cyber Security Ltd., a startup whose technology aims to detect and stop attackers.

“In a castle, the first line of defense is the moat, and after that the archers, the cavalry and the infantry,” said Yoni Heilbronn, vice president of marketing at Tel Aviv-based Argus, in a phone interview. “Check Point is the moat here, in a manner of speaking, and Argus is the archers and cavalry.”

More than 100 million new cars are expected to have some form of Internet connectivity by 2025, according to an EY report, even after events such as the remote hacking of a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Jeep raised doubts about the safety of increasingly automated vehicles. By 2020, about 90 percent of new vehicles in western Europe will be connected to the Internet, compared with about one-third this year, according to Hitachi Ltd.

Check Point has been working on a solution for the auto industry for about two years and believes its approach “solves many of the existing problems,” Alon Kantor, the company’s vice president for business development, said in a phone interview. The two have demonstrated their solution to manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe, and are in discussions with several companies, he said. Financial details of the tie-up between Argus and Check Point weren’t made public.

Israel Deals

In Israel, a powerhouse for new cybersecurity technologies often developed by former members of the country’s elite intelligence corps, securing next-generation automobiles has attracted companies beyond Check Point and Argus. Earlier this month, Harman International Industries Inc. bought TowerSec, an Israeli company specializing in network protection for connected vehicles. International Business Machines Corp. cybersecurity researchers are working in Israel on a cloud-based solution that can identify attacks to protect connected cars.

The link-up with Check Point gives Argus, which raised $26 million in a Series B funding round in September, “a seal of approval,” said Heilbronn. With Argus, Check Point can “offer a more holistic solution that covers connectivity and security of the internal components of the car,” Kantor said.

The partnership jointly offers car manufacturers an integrated product that can detect an attack in real time, send out an alert and stop the assault before damage is made.

Daniel Ives, senior analyst at FBR in New York, said the automobile market “is a logical area for Check Point to go after as connected cars represent a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for security players over the coming years.” As the company looks “for new growth opportunities both organically and through acquisitions, security in the auto markets is a smart avenue,” he added.

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