Cybersecurity / Funding / Startups

RunSafe Security raises $2.4M to protect hardware from cyberattacks

The McLean, Va. startup seeks to stop malware from entering devices. It counts data centers among early customers.

Data centers are among early customers for RunSafe Security. (Photo by Flickr user Christopher Bowns, used under a Creative Commons license)

RunSafe Security, a McLean, Va.–based company that makes a platform to protect embedded systems and devices from cyberattacks, recently closed on $2.4 million in seed funding, said CEO Joe Saunders.

The investment round was led by Alsop Louie Partners, a San Francisco–based venture firm. The Herndon, Va.–based Center for Innovative Technology also participated through its Gap Fund. The company also recently completed CIT’s Mach37 cyber accelerator program.

Saunders said the startup’s work began with a question: “If you assume hardware in the supply chain is compromised, how do you build trusted software on top untrusted hardware?”

The startup was founded by a group with a background in cybersecurity research working for the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as building mobile security technology at Kaprica Systems that was acquired by Samsung.

“When you have really really smart people that understand how vulnerabilities can be exploited, they end up being some of the best engineers to cyberharden systems,” Saunders said.

The company’s technology is designed to transform software binaries within devices in a way that denies malware what it needs to change commands and spread within a system. The transformation can be done before or after a product is deployed without requiring access to source code or an operating system, and the product remains “identical” after the process is complete, Saunders said.

Initial markets for the company include critical infrastructure and industrial control systems, including data centers, water suppliers or power suppliers. Saunders said the software can protect devices in the supply chain for such centers. He didn’t name initial customers, but said they include companies that make cooling and power equipment for data centers, as well as data center companies themselves. Medical devices and automobiles are also among early markets.

The company is looking to differentiate by providing a system that prevents an attack, rather than one that seeks out potential threats and provides alerts. Additionally, Saunders said, the software does not require a change in the device’s hardware.

“While most security for industrial control systems (ICS) and the industrial internet of things (IIoT) focuses on intrusion detection, and looking for anomalies, RunSafe Security is focused on mitigation and denying malware the uniformity it needs to spread,” Bill Crowell, partner at Alsop Louie Partners said in a statement.

With the funding, the company is looking to expand sales and marketing, as well as continue to develop the product. Saunders said it currently has a staff of 10 people, and is looking to double by the end of the year.


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