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Cybersecurity company Shift5 nabs $50M to develop products, hire staff

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.

Cybersecurity company Shift5 has raised $50 million in a Series B funding round to protect planes, trains and military weapon systems from mounting threats.

The round was led by private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners, and follows up on a $20 million Series A funding round last fall.

“Shift5’s experienced founding team with deep national and cybersecurity experience, plus early success, makes the company a standout in the industry,” Nick Sinai, a senior advisor at Insight Partners who will join Shift5’s board, said in a statement. “We’re excited to work with Shift5 as it fills a crucial space in defending national infrastructure.”

Shift5 intends to use the funding to new products and hire new employees to keep pace with demand for its services across transportation and national defense industries. It works with some notable clients, including the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command.

The Rosslyn-based startup, headquartered at 1100 Wilson Blvd, currently offers a platform that identifies the weak points in the systems making planes, trains and militaries run, and wards off cyber threats. It began selling this product last year, and reported netting tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

The commitment to hiring staff comes after the company doubled the size of its team in 2021.

Airlines, train operators and militaries often rely on outdated operational technology to power their fleets, according to Shift5. As more of these operational systems get connected to the Internet, they become more vulnerable to cyber attacks — which can cost them millions of dollars in losses, remediation and ransom payments.

And soon, they may have a human cost, as these attacks could result in injuries and deaths by 2025, according to research firm Gartner.

Shift5 founders deploy their product on a train during COVID-19 (courtesy of Shift5)

Cyber threats are becoming more commonplace, and demand for Shift5’s services is rising, the company says. Recent attacks have targeted pipelines and surface transportation, including New York’s public transit authority and a major port in Houston. Hacks into maritime operational technology have increased by 900% since 2017 and, overall, the transportation industry witnessed a 186% increase in weekly attacks from 2020 to 2021.

“If the past year has proven anything, it’s that the leading defenders in rail, aviation, and national defense see the prescient risks and are mobilizing to get ahead of costly damages,” said Shift5’s President Joe Lea in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with Insight Partners as we continue to grow and defend.”

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