On Tuesday, Shift5, a developer of operational technology (OT) cybersecurity for military and civilian transportation systems (specifically planes, trains and tanks) announced that it has raised a $20 million Series A venture capital round. The round was led by New York-based early stage VC fund 645 Ventures, along with Squadra Ventures, General Advance, and First In. The company, which is led by founding members of the U.S. Army Cyber Command, said it plans to use the new funds to “provide enhanced cybersecurity and operational intelligence for today’s commercial fleet operators and military platforms.”
Per Shift5, today’s transportation fleets, which are critical to U.S. national security, supply chains, and the movement of people, still rely on pre-Digital Age, legacy OT that lacks resilience against cyberattacks, particularly since digital components and control networks are already deeply embedded in planes, trains, and military vehicles. Shift5 essentially provides cybersecurity for OT, powering a critical and unprotected part of U.S. infrastructure from cyberattacks and operational failures by detecting cyber threats and equipment malfunction that could lead to operational failures and catastrophic risk.
“The increasing rate of cyber physical attacks against national infrastructure has exposed the digital insecurity of the U.S. systems that underpin modern society. Successful cyberattacks triggered gasoline and meat shortages and public transportation outages, impacting the daily lives of thousands and incurring downstream costs to impacted businesses,” said Shift5 Co-Founder and CEO Josh Lospinoso. “Defending the cyber-physical attack surface of planes, trains, and tanks is a national security imperative. This fresh financing represents significant investment in hiring world-class talent, advancing Shift5’s platform, and bringing cybersecurity to the trillions of dollars in fleet assets moving the world.”
Shift5’s funding comes amid a recent increase in government contract work for the company that has fueled business and technology growth, including a new contract with the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) to configure Shift5’s commercial technology on Army combat vehicles. The company is providing enhanced cybersecurity and operational intelligence to protect today’s commercial fleet operators and military platforms, including the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and several of the largest U.S. passenger rail systems.
“When we talk about defending OT for transportation infrastructure assets, it’s with the understanding that the margin for error is miniscule. Shift5’s roots in military spaces means these stakes were present from the get-go,” said Shift5 President Joe Lea in a statement on the round. “Such standards have enabled us to work with like-minded partners in the federal space, and have increasingly opened the doors to conversations with leading commercial rail and airline security officers. Our discussions are similar: transportation is infrastructure that drives global economic performance, that millions of people rely on daily, and that defends the nation; lacking the ability to defend it is unacceptable.”
“Shift5 represents the best of what 645 looks for in an investment: a talented, driven and experienced team building a differentiated technology company to solve a critical and growing problem,” said 645 Ventures Co-Founder and Managing Partner Nnamdi Okike. “The challenge of monitoring and securing commercial and government fleets, vehicles, and systems against cyberattack and malfunction is one of the most important in cybersecurity today. We’re excited to partner closely with them as they scale the business.”
Earlier this year, research firm Gartner named Shift5 a “cool vendor” in cyber-physical systems security.