BlackBerry has acquired the artificial intelligence and cybersecurity company Cylance for $1.4 billion in cash, in a bid to assist with plans to make software for autonomous cars, according to reports.
Cylance, based in California, was reportedly considering filing for an IPO before the news came to light. The company makes products that prevent cyberattacks using artificial intelligence.
BlackBerry, a Canadian company that used to have a huge slice of the mobile phone market before the proliferation of the iPhone, pivoted to software that manages mobile devices. It also keeps an eye on emerging technologies, which is why it is buying Cylance, which will continue to operate as a separate company inside of BlackBerry.
The acquisition was first brought up in November of 2018.
“Today BlackBerry took a giant step forward toward our goal of being the world’s largest and most trusted AI-cybersecurity company,” said John Chen, executive chairman and CEO, BlackBerry. “Securing endpoints and the data that flows between them is absolutely critical in today’s hyperconnected world. By adding Cylance’s technology to our arsenal of cybersecurity solutions, we will help enterprises intelligently connect, protect and build secure endpoints that users can trust.”
There was no mention of job cuts, but Stuart McClure, now the president of BlackBerry Cylance, said he will “continue to apply his visionary math-based approach to threat detection, prevention and response, as well as lead the business’ large team of highly skilled engineers and data scientists.”
BlackBerry Engineering VP Rupen Chanda told PYMNTS about the large amount of data that needs to be processed and protected in order for connected cars to operate securely. “It is hard for most people to really imagine the staggering amounts of data that need to be sorted, parsed and secured to make connected cars – and eventually autonomous cars – really ready for the road,” Chanda said. “We’re talking about literally hundreds of millions of lines of code – and automakers will be responsible for making sure it is all up to industry standards and secured against attacks from cybercriminals. And, of course, able to run, flawlessly, in real time, while a car is traveling anywhere from 30 to 80 miles per hour.”
The cyberattacks, Chanda noted, are real and certainly coming – he believes the question is not a matter of if or even a matter of when. The unfortunate reality, he said, is that cybercriminals are already working hard to crack car systems, and will only work harder as cars become more connected and increasingly software-dependent.