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GuardKnox, an automotive cybersecurity provider, has grown quickly using the techniques and lessons learned from veterans of the Israeli Air Force. The company offers solutions to protect connected, autonomous and highly computerised cars of the future.

Its CEO, Moshe Shlisel, relates his leadership philosophies and has some shocking predictions.

“When you serve in the military, leadership becomes your second nature. You lead by example,” says Shlisel. When he served in the Special Ops unit he had to go to commanders with crazy ideas who kept saying ‘it cannot be done.’

“In Special Ops, you see yourself going beyond the boundaries of man and mankind. There is no such thing as ‘I cannot do it’. All the time you’re pushing the limits. With GuardKnox there is no limit,” says Shlisel.

After leaving the Israel Air Force and before leading GuardKnox, Shlisel led multiple tech and start-up companies. He now works with others who served the Israeli Air Force.

For example, GuardKnox’s co-founder, Dionis Teshler, CTO, came to Israel from the Soviet Union as a child. He then had to learn a new language and a new culture. He served in the Israeli Air Force as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and Project Manager for IT systems and CISO for the Israeli F-35 fighter jet program.

The company’s third co-founder, Idan Nadan, was the Chief Engineer and Lead Developer of hardware cybersecurity for the Israeli F-35 fighter jet, as well as for the Iron Dome and Arrow III missile defense systems while serving in the Israeli Air Force.

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“If security can be done in fighter jets, it can be done in vehicles.”

Shlisel likes the start-up infrastructure because “It’s like creating something new to take ideas and come from nothing and make them something.”

When GuardKnox started in 2016 in only two and a half rooms, with four people in each room sharing tables, he refused listen to the people who were saying ‘it can’t be done’.

Shlisel does not believe in competition, he says “The only competition I have is myself. When you don’t accept human limitations, you can go beyond what you have. It’s not just only think outside of the box. GuardKnox believes there is no box.”

Cybersecurity is not something new. We’ve had cybersecurity for a long time in says Shlisel. who notes cars of today is the same as computers were in the 1980s.

Many people think that cybersecurity has to do with people stealing cars. That’s not as bad as some kid who likes to hacks into a car on the highway and figures out a way to push the car into the ditch. But probably what would be worse is a hacker who attacks a fleet and sends a letter of ransom, says Shlisel.

“In the Israeli Air Force, you cannot allow a foreign entity to send you a ransom because they have hacked your fighter jets. If security can be done in fighter jets, it can be done in vehicles,” proclaims Shlisel.

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Concerns Over Connected Cars

So far, the general public hasn’t heard of ransom attacks on automakers or suppliers, yet but the victims could be ‘mum’ on the subject.

“Here’s the thing about finding out about ransomware if a company paid a ransom, they’re not going to tell anybody. Hackers who found a way to hack a company they’re not going to tell anybody,” says Shlisel. “Sometimes hackers, after they get two billion dollars, say, ‘I’ve had enough money and I’m not going to do it anymore.’”

It is estimated that approximately 40% of enterprises were hit by IT-related ransomware last year costing businesses more than 1 billion dollars. GuardKnox believes It won’t be long until ransomware attacks the over to the 280 million connected vehicles on the road projected by 2020. Shlisel and the company are especially concerned about connected cars.

“We’re coming to the case where we’re in the iPhone application of vehicles, where people want to be able to download things in their cars such as apps, better environment or better battery range like an OEM appstore. Also, the OEMs want to be able to update their software over-the-air,” says Shlisel. 

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The Freedom to Evolve

As a father of three children, security is very important to Shlisel. “Security in vehicles is very important because often is the only time when all the members of the family are together in a car.”

He’s comfortable in an environment of uncertainty and gathering new information and creating patents that are two years ahead of the industry. The company offers deterministic hardware and software solutions for Communication Lockdown Methodology and Service-Oriented Architecture.

At CES in las Vegas, GuardKnox will be showing its Cockpit Domain Controller with mixed-criticality and multiple operating systems on a single chip with secure domain isolation.

It’s also launching new subsidiaries. It launched one in Germany and will be launching in the U.S. in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Shlisel sums up GuardKnox this way: “There is a 40-year gap between the technology between aviation security and vehicle security. GuardKnox delivers aviation level security to carmakers, customers and their vehicles.”

“In this environment, we need the freedom to evolve.” Shlisel revealed that ‘Freedom to Evolve’ is the company’s new slogan.

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