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[Herald Interview] Autocrypt eyes global leadership in automotive security

S. Korean startup partners with Germany's BMW, Japan's Hitachi, Vietnam's Vingroup

May 27, 2024 - 14:23 By Kan Hyeong-woo
Kim Eui-seok, chief technology officer and co-founder of Autocrypt (Autocrypt)

LEIPZIG, Germany -- The automotive security sector has never been more important with the growth of connected cars and the advancement of software for vehicles. Autocrypt, a South Korean startup, has been making strides and is looking to become a leading provider of automotive cybersecurity and mobility solutions.

“Cars are now equipped with loads of software so now they are exposed to hacking like computers (facing risks) in the backend server and various (types of) IT infrastructure,” said Kim Eui-seok, global chief technical officer and co-founder of Autocrypt, told The Korea Herald on the sidelines of the International Transport Forum 2024 in Leipzig, Germany on Friday.

“With automobiles having a ton of connectivity to the outside, there has been an increase in the number of channels that attack cars. This led to a consensus among various public institutions, (original equipment manufacturers) and people in the auto industry, legalizing strong standards," he said.

Established in 2019, Autocrypt has joined hands with multiple powerhouses across the globe such as: German automaker BMW for Bavarian State R&D program; Hitachi Solutions, a leading IT service provider and system integrator in Japan; VinCSS, a cybersecurity services subsidiary of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup; and Bayanat, a leading artificial intelligence-powered geospatial solutions provider in the United Arab Emirates.

The technical expertise of Autocrypt extends back to many more years before its establishment, as it initially started as an in-house venture of Penta Security, a Korean IT security firm, in 2007 and eventually spun off as a separate entity in 2019.

“Auto security cannot be detached from the infrastructures linked to automobiles,” said Kim.

“For charging of electric vehicles, security systems are required for OEMs, parts makers, charger manufacturers and charging service providers. It goes beyond just EV charging and applies to (vehicle-to-everything aspects) such as digital key services and testing frameworks so it requires collaboration. We are trying to create great results with good partners," he said.

The Korean startup already operates offices in six countries: Korea, Canada, China, Germany, Japan and Singapore. Although Autocrypt’s business portfolio is heavily invested in the domestic field at the moment, it is working step by step to expand its global businesses.

Autocrypt joined the Corporate Partnership Board of the International Transport Forum in June 2021 and has taken part in the ITF’s annual summit every year since then.

“In terms of India, we have customers in India but we have not established an office to have personnel there yet,” said Kim.

“We have been actively participating in numerous committees on standardization, integration tests of global interoperability and R&D activities to accumulate references in technological regards. In fact, we are also carrying out mass production projects in various regions," he said.

According to Kim, Autocrypt has drawn a total of 70 billion won ($52 million) in investment funds so far. Regarding the possibility of going public, he explained that the company is considering various plans and preparing for a listing on the stock market in the future.

Due to its potential, Autocrypt was selected as a future unicorn company by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups in June last year. Unicorn companies refer to startups that reach a value of over $1 billion and are not listed on the stock market.