Israeli railway cyber protection co Cylus raises $4.7m

Israel Railways Photo: Shutterstock ASAP Creative

The Zohar Zisapel-sponsored startup develops cyber protection for railways.

Imagine that you are waiting at a railway station. When you check your phone to see when your train is supposed to arrive, you see a demand for ransom. That is what happened to railway passengers in Germany in May 2017, when a cyber attack penetrated the German railway company's communications network. In the UK, four cyber attacks penetrated the railway's operating network in 2016 alone. Israeli startup Cylus, which develops cyber protection solutions for railways, has announced closing a $4.7 million seed round. Investors in the company include Magma Venture Partners, Vertex Venture Capital, and SBI Group of Japan, plus Cylus cofounder Zohar Zisapel.

"The usually approach to cyber protection of organizations is unsuitable for the railways' network architecture," Cylus CEO Amir Levintal told "Globes." "Control over the train is exercised through a wireless interface utilizing GSM-R technology, like the advanced mobile telephone networks. With the help of this interface, information can be transmitted from the control center to the train, and information can be received from it. The cyber products currently in the market do not speak the railways' language. The standard technologies are adapted to IT, and we're dealing with signal communications - the mobile communications of a passenger train. Wireless communications that facilitates remote control of the train is subject to exploitation by an attacker trying to control the train and do harm to the passengers.

"Railway networks are deployed throughout the world on hundreds of thousands of kilometers, and the train is constantly in motion. The railway systems are therefore based on special technology that facilitates communications within the train itself (between the locomotive and the braking system, for example), control of the locomotive from the control center, and communications between the control center and the equipment along the tracks, such as the points, which channel the train on the tracks."

Levintal says that a security system, such as a firewall, which is capable of monitoring communications in the trains' systems, is liable to damage a train's operations. "A firewall is liable to make an error and block communications needed to control the train, thereby affecting the train and its safety. We don't intervene at all in the traffic on the network; we only detect the attacks and make it possible to deal with them," Levintal explains.

Cylus was founded in 2017 by former Israel Railways CEO Boaz Zafrir, who is now president of Cylus, entrepreneur Zohar Zisapel, Amir Levintal, VP R&D Miki Shifman, and CTO Gal Shmueli. Cylus says that the combination of cyber experts and railway executives is what made it possible to create a solution specially adapted to railway systems.

Company: Cylus

Founded: 2017

Location: Tel Aviv

Employees: 10

Investors: Magma, Vertex, SBI Group, Zohar Zisapel

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - - on January 28, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

Israel Railways Photo: Shutterstock ASAP Creative
Israel Railways Photo: Shutterstock ASAP Creative
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