GuardKnox, an Israel-based startup developing a suite of cybersecurity products for automotive apps and platforms, today announced that it’s raised $21 million in series A funding led by Fraser McCombs Capital, with participation from Faurecia, Shanghai Automotive’s SAIC Capital, Glory Ventures, NextLeap Ventures, VectoIQ, Plug and Play, Allied, Cybertech, and Kardan LTD. The capital infusion brings GuardKnox’s total raised to $24 million, and cofounder and CEO Moshe Shlisel said it’ll be used to grow GuardKnox’s research and development team and enable it to open subsidiaries in “strategic” locations.

“The automotive industry is experiencing massive disruption from emerging technologies,” said Shlisel, who founded GuardKnox in 2016 with fellow Israel Air Force veterans CTO Dionis Teshler and VP R&D Idan Nadav. “Paired with increasing customer expectations, companies are under immense pressure to meet client needs and desires for added services, while also providing security solutions that keep pace with passenger safety and data security as well as the ever-changing regulatory environment.”

GuardKnox’s Secure Network Orchestrator, or SNO for short, is an end-to-end, holistic software and hardware solution that shields cars’ control systems against threats from malicious cyberattackers. On the hardware side of things, there’s the Central SNO, which secures the whole of a car’s internetwork communications, and the complimentary Local SNO, which locks down a single electronic control unit (i.e., the embedded component that controls one or more of a vehicle’s electrical subsystems). Both SNOs pass digital commands and messages entering a car’s network through deterministic routing, content, and contextual layers, such that received data that isn’t precisely designated as “acceptable” is rejected, effectively preventing attacks causing changes in functionality.

“We are solving a critical industry pain point and believe our approach to high-performance hardware architecture … is the best way for companies to ensure the safety of their connected and autonomous vehicles,” said Shlisel. “We are proud to have such outstanding investors support our vision, and are confident they will bring immense value to the company.”

The Central SNO, which features a tamper-proof, vendor-agnostic design that doesn’t require constant internet connectivity or regular updates, is transparent to other ECUs like the drivetrain and infotainment networks and acts as a central communications gateway. As for the plug-and-play Local SNO, it aids in data monetization and aftermarket customization in addition to cybersecurity, Shlisel says.

GuardKnox integrates the Central SNO and Local SNO with vehicles through Tier 1 supplier collaborations, with Local SNO typically being installed as an add-on during production runs and retrofits. Post-integration, through services like Palo Alto Networks’ GlobalProtect and DXC Technology’s fleet management product, GuardKnox facilitates upgrades to specific ECUs, in addition to event recording, security alarm triggering, telematics, and more.

Shlisel points to a pair of studies indicating that most cars on the road today have over 100 ECUs and that 280 million vehicles retain connectivity in the form of short-range wireless (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi), long-range wireless (cellular), and remote keyless entry. A recent report published by Statista supports the research he cites — it anticipates that the number of connected car shipments will reach 64 million by 2020. And analysts at Markets and Markets expect the automotive cybersecurity market will be worth $5.77 billion by 2025.

“With connected services available in a majority of new cars and trucks, the ability to secure vehicles and user information will soon redefine automotive brands and insurance,” said Mark Norman, managing partner at Fraser McCombs Capital. “FM Capital is proud to partner with the dynamic GuardKnox team delivering transformative cybersecurity solutions for the auto industry.”

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