Upstream Security reels in $9M Series A to protect connected cars

Upstream Security, a new startup founded by two cyber security industry veterans, announced a $9 million Series A today to help protect connected vehicles and eventually autonomous cars.

Today, that probably means a car using a service like OnStar to connect over the internet to your manufacturer for a menu of in-car services such as automated crash detection and stolen vehicle assistance. In the future, it could involve a set of communications between cars, cloud services and a host of other technologies as we move deeper into the use of autonomous vehicles.

The investment was led by CRV. Israeli-based Glilot Capital Partners and Maniv Mobility also participated. Today’s round comes on the heels of $2 million seed round in June.

The co-founders, Yoav Levy and Yonatan Appel decided to bring their years of cyber security experience to bear on securing the connected car. While some companies have looked at this problem in the past by trying to apply the security inside the car itself, Levy said his company is taking a different approach by moving the security layer to the cloud.

By installing the security in the data center between the car, the telematics server and whatever applications are running on the server, Levy believes it will simplify and enhance the ability to secure the car. What’s more, there is also a machine learning component. So the more data they collect, the better they can distinguish anomalous behavior from normal behavior.

For now, that mostly involves fraudulent use of a vehicle, rather than anything like malware or hacking (although that could be something they look at in the future). Possible customers could be OEMs, rental fleets, truck and bus companies or ride sharing services.

Upstream monitors usage and could tell for instance if a person were using a rental car for ride-sharing in violation of the rental agreement. They could determine this because a person picking up people, traveling a short distance and stopping to drop them off leaves a particular data footprint.

Today the company has 15 employees, but has plans to expand to 40 in the next year including opening east and west coast sales offices in the US. Upstream currently has five companies piloting their solution. The plan is to Beta by the end of the month and go to GA by the end of January.