Red Balloon Security, which inserts specks of software into embedded devices to monitor for suspicious modifications, recently raised $21.9 million from investors to expand into increasingly connected devices like cars and refrigerators. One of Red Balloon's big customers is Hewlett Packard, which uses the software to digitally defend its printers.
“The threats to connected embedded devices are growing,” said Ang Cui, the founder and chief executive of Red Balloon, in a statement. These threats could hamper the growth of Internet of Things into a network of billions of devices. In recent years, hackers have wreaked havoc by infiltrating embedded devices and then using them as a beachhead for more sophisticated attacks – a strategy employed in the Mirai distributed-denial-of-service attacks.
Red Balloon’s solution is based on the Symbiote, a small component of code installed into a host device, where it monitors the system for unauthorized changes to the firmware. The software, which is compatible with any operating system, even proprietary ones, and can be uploaded without code changes, alerts the device’s owner and other Symbiotes on the network if anything is detected.
The New York-based company's software “is able to prevent malware and other cyber-attacks from hijacking, disrupting or corrupting any embedded device,” Cui said. The technology “is highly effective within any type of embedded device environment, from consumer electronics to factories, connected cars and even power plants,” he added.
The funding round was led by Bain Capital, with additional funding from Greycroft and Abstract Ventures, among others. The investment caps more than a decade of funding from the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as $2.6 million that it raised to get off the ground in 2012.