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Cyber Defense for Sensors

Regulus is the first company dealing with sensor security, enabling uninterrupted, continuous operation under malicious attacks or accidental interference to sensors. Roi Mit, CMO of Regulus Cyber, takes us through the details.

What impact is Regulus Cyber technology making on the future of mobility? 

From GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System - GPS) to LiDAR and Radar, smart-sensors are critical components across a wide range of applications like mobility and automotive, mobile, and critical infrastructure. The future of mobility depends on the use of sensors. 

ADAS and driverless navigation utilize data gathered by sensors or provided by maps and GPS, in order for AVs to function properly. If the integrity or authenticity of this data is compromised or fake, the building blocks of the automated driving functions will use faulty data to maneuver the vehicle, which can lead to hazardous results as proven in both research and real-life attacks. 

The Regulus Pyramid GNSS technology is transformative for Global Navigation Satellite System users, allowing GNSS spoofing detection and mitigation for the transportation sector. 

Why is sensor cybersecurity frequently overlooked when it comes to developing autonomous vehicles? 

The recent developments in autonomous technology highlight the importance of cybersecurity. A slew of possible safety risks arises from malicious actors seeking to take advantage of the vehicles, which could possibly allow them to gain access to a car’s controls. 

The first and most obvious change in vehicles is the fact they were connected to the internet, making them essentially computers with wheels. This made cars much 'smarter' but also made them extremely vulnerable to the same threats that any internet-connected computer is connected to and that draws a lot of attention from anyone involved in the automotive industry. Furthermore, several incidents over the past 10 years brought this issue to headlines including a large lawsuit against FCA and Harman regarding the Jeep hacking incident. 

With the advent of ADAS or autonomous cars, a new major component is now an integral part of every vehicle system - sensors. And that component again created an incredible opportunity for cars to drive themselves using these new 'eyes and ears' but also exposed them to new vectors of vulnerability. It is only a matter of time until sensor cybersecurity will be treated with the same severity as connected cybersecurity. 

Common vehicle sensors include Radar, LiDAR and Camera. For the sake of the actual navigation, the vehicle uses GNSS, are there any specific threats to satellite-based navigation?

Every single sensor is vulnerable to two types of attack, jamming - which means blocking the signal essentially blinding the sensors, and spoofing - which means transmitting fake signals. Jamming and Spoofing attacks differ between sensors and require different protection methods. For example, LiDAR is attacked by laser pulses while Radar is attacked by wave generators. 

In the case of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System, also known as GPS or Global Positioning System), the vehicle receives satellite signals from space in order to determine position, time and navigation. This satellite signal is crucial for the autonomous navigation operation of the vehicle and can be easily spoofed by generating fake satellite signals that are stronger than the ones coming from space. Any vehicle guided by a GNSS system can be spoofed using open source software and software-defined radio (SDR) legally purchased from Amazon for under $300. A spoofer can generate and transmit fake GNSS signals that can be used by the vehicle's navigation system to calculate a false destination, directing the vehicle to an entirely different location, a potentially life-threatening hazard.

Why did you choose to go into sensor-input based attacks, not connected Internet-based attacks? 

Regulus was founded by a team of engineers and entrepreneurs that have extensive knowledge and experience in creating security solutions for the military, homeland security, and commercial projects and they bring that expertise to the relevant commercial markets. The Pyramid GNSS product was developed utilizing the expertise of our team on sensors and autonomous technologies in the defense industry. The concept of protecting sensors and GNSS in the military industry is very well developed, and this is a growing gap that we identified in the civilian market that requires attention and solutions. 

Internet-based attacks are already well addressed and there are many great companies and products out there to protect against it. 

The assumption is that the public sector is behind and slow, and the private sector is the space of innovation. Would you agree? And how do you think we can increase the cooperation between different sectors in order to drive change? 

Partially, it is true that government and regulators are sometimes responding slower than they should, this is very evident in the field of cybersecurity in general, and in many cases, cyber regulation is done only after an incident. However, we have to remember that this is a new playing field for everyone involved, both private sector companies such as car manufacturers and the authorities meant to oversee them are learning, together, what this new age of mobility entails. This new technologies we have driving on our road bring new technological, psychological, economical and safety challenges that we must carefully learn and address. 

The best way to implement new mobility is slow and carefully, the public's trust in these systems is crucial. 

Is there a founding culture-specific to Israel that made the founders start their company there? And how does this culture differ from the one in Germany, the UK or the US? 

Israel’s startup success has led to the country being called a “startup nation.” Israel has the highest number of per capita startups in the world, and many entrepreneurs with massive success stories started their journey in the wonderful ecosystem in Israel. There are several key differences between Israel and other Economies such as Germany and the UK, and these differences are the reason innovation is so common in the Israeli economy - 

  1. Mandatory military service - In Israel, the military service is mandatory from 18 to 21 years old. There are several exceptional technologies and intelligence units that create a tech or cyber experts like nowhere else. The culture and educational methodology there are exceptional and provide you with a front-row seat to the world's most advanced technologies at a young age. Some of our team members in Regulus hails from the same units. 
  2. Government Support - The Israeli government is using taxpayers money to support startups and innovation, a huge 4% portion of the country GDP is invested back into R&D and there is an innovation ministry dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship with grants and investments.
  3. Risk-taking supportive culture - The way Israelis grow up, and being educated, is that failing is key in the journey to success. The Israeli innovator's courage to try, and fail until they finally make it. Furthermore, there is a sense of solidarity amongst Israelis. Many of the successful entrepreneurs freely share their knowledge and expertise with younger entrepreneurs and we enjoy great access to hugely successful technology leader knowledge.  

What do you think of the collaboration between smaller startups and huge companies such as Daimler, BMW or VW?

It is imperative for both large corporations and small startups to work together. For the large OEM such as Daimler, BMW or VW innovation is crucial in order to stay relevant versus the competition, and constalty evolve their offering. For startups, corporate partners are the natural way to expand and grow and have their solutions integrated globally.

The reason that so much innovation comes from startups rather than corporations, is that startups are small groups of specific experts laser-focused on solving a specific problem, and this is something that is hard to achieve in large organizations that have multiple tasks and issues at hand. This means that such cooperation is beneficial for both sides. 

What are your biggest challenges nowadays?

Educating the automotive market. Cyber solutions are hard to implement because they address a potential problem, and many companies prefer postponing dealing with cyber threats and rather focus on the now. However, this is exactly why cyber solutions should be implemented as early as possible - history proves that ignoring cyber vulnerabilities would mean that at some point, a cyber attack will take place and cause irreversible damage. Our goal is to save lives and protect passengers before a sensor-based attack will take place. 

In the case of autonomous cars, public trust is crucial, and all it takes is one incident in which a hacker will be able to remote control a car and cause an accident to cause a massive distrust in the system and have regulators further limit this amazing new technology. Our goal is to help OEM and Tier 1 involved in the automotive industry to better prepare for the threats of tomorrow and bring a new age of safe, and reliable, autonomous technology. 

About Regulus

Regulus Cyber is the first company to deal with smart-sensor security. From GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System - GPS) to LiDAR and Radar, smart-sensors are critical components across a wide range of applications like mobility and automotive, mobile, and critical infrastructure. Real-world attacks against these sensors is a growing concern; therefore, Regulus focuses on GNSS (GPS) security, a field that is very different from connected internet-based attacks. The company's first technology is the Pyramid GNSS (GPS), the first solution to detect and eliminate smart spoofing against GNSS receivers that is secure, affordable, and applicable to multiple industries. Regulus is developing a range of anti-spoofing technologies, from a fortified GNSS receiver to a software stack, relevant for any GNSS receiver as a firmware update and down to an IP core algorithm for the GNSS chip level. Founded in 2016, Regulus is based in Haifa, Israel and is backed by Sierra Ventures, Canaan Partners Israel, the Technion and F2 Capital. For more information, visit www.regulus.com.


Regulus Cyber at the IAA

You'll find Regulus Cyber in Hall 5, Stand B30 at the IAA!