What if a security analyst lived inside every IoT device?
Qomodo wants to make the IoT world safer by getting closer to the threat
Sometimes the startups we cover have been working on their products for a while.
But today’s has managed to get its MVP into customers’ hands just four months after the founders went full-time.
Oh, and they’ve done Techstars in that time too. Scroll down to read all about qomodo.
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But first! There’s a new accelerator that should be on your radar:
Manchester’s Turing Innovation Catalyst is launching an A.I. accelerator with a six-month hybrid programme, delivered by what they describe as world-class A.I. and startup experts
They’re looking for startups building deep tech A.I. products or services in the health, net-zero, or generative A.I. spaces. You’ll need to be “dedicated to job creation in Greater Manchester” too.
Qomodo wants to become the gold standard in IoT security… by getting closer to the threat
The growth of the internet of things market shows no sign of slowing over the next few years.
That is going to mean internet-connected devices–whether they’re sensors, cameras, or something more complex like a vehicle or a component in essential infrastructure–will become a greater target for cyberattacks.
But IoT devices aren’t necessarily very secure, which can be a real pain point for businesses and security experts alike.
“We were no longer able to say with conviction to our stakeholders that were able to see everything that is going on in their network, or detect potential malicious activity, because these devices are a black box,” says Toby Wilmington, one of a trio of cybersecurity professionals who have co-founded IoT security startup qomodo.
“You can't see what's going on in [IoT devices], like you can in a laptop or a server. You can't just install antivirus on there like you would do in a normal corporate network… And we were working with people [for whom] this simply wasn't good enough.
“The problem was the manufacturers of these devices either didn't really care, because it was all about getting those devices out to market as quickly as possible, or if they did care, they just didn't have the skills because our skills are in shortage.”
Other IoT security tech companies tend to monitor devices at a network level, but four-month-old qomodo has built a software agent that sits inside IoT hardware to learn its normal behaviour and then detect suspicious connections, processes, or other anomalies occurring on the device.
The first version of qomodo’s product is designed for use with Linux-based hardware, and is already up and running with two customers, Wilmington says. This includes a fleet of electric trucks in the UK.
Wilmington says the tech is already detecting threats, such as malicious software being installed onto a device, physical tampering of a device, or commands that are being run on the technology itself.
And rather than just tell a user that, for example, a suspicious login has been detected, qomodo is using generative A.I. to explain what that means, which could be a real help to the people who have to do something about it.
“The intelligence of who's targeting what technologies, why are they targeting them, how are they actually targeting them geographically, from a sector or industry specifications? All of that context is really key to understand as a security analyst what to do next,” says Wilmington.
The story so far
He says their previous work involved “helping global organisations that could be in oil, gas, mining across the globe, heavily targeted from a hacktivist perspective, but also from a nation state perspective as well, because they have ties into critical infrastructure.”
The trio kept discussing the possibility of starting their own business, Wilmington says. But it was early last year, when he realised just how critical IoT is to our everyday life, that they decided to do something.
“Just think of how important the technology is that connects most things that enable our lives every day, whether it's a train that you get… or the water that comes out of the taps; somehow IoT is in that process every day.”
After getting started full-time in September 2023, they quickly landed a place on Techstars’ London programme.
A tale of two Qomodos
One thing qomodo is NOT is a fintech startup from Italy that raised a €34.5 million pre-seed round in November. That’s a very different Qomodo.
The UK-based qomodo is so-named because Komodo dragons are intelligent apex predators.
While WIlmington says a name change might be needed at some point, they’re far enough apart from their Italian namesakes that it’s not a massive issue (beyond, perhaps, SEO).
With the Techstars programme now completed, qomodo is busy lining up more customers to prove the market. In addition to equipment manufacturers, they’re also looking to the automotive market. Currently based in Leeds, they’re planning to move their HQ to London.
While currently designed to support Linux devices, qomodo is working to support a wider range of IoT infrastructure, right down to small devices like sensors in factories and power plants.
In addition to active monitoring, the startup is working to use predictive modelling, which will identify likely vectors for attack in a device, to warn those operating it that they should take action before it becomes an issue.
Right now, the startup is collecting the data needed to provide these predictions.
“We've got our own infrastructure that's exposed to the internet, and it's being attacked about 100,000 times a day. That information of when these attackers get into these devices, what they are doing, reinforces the machine learning that we're building,” says Wilmington.
The current target customer is device manufacturers, who can install the tech on their devices. But towards the end of the year, qomodo plans to launch an ‘agentless’ version of its product that can sit on the networks of end users and monitor their IoT without having to be present in the hardware itself.
Go deeper on qomodo:
Learn more about their funding and investment plans, vision, competition, and challenges: