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Ballston cybersecurity company patents a chip that can secure commonplace items from hackers | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


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 Three Ballston Plaza. 

As more modern conveniences and critical infrastructure connect to the internet, increasingly commonplace objects — like electric vehicles — can be hit with cyberattacks.

In this ever-changing landscape, Ballston-based cybersecurity company Fend has put forward a new piece of technology to protect large systems and small devices alike from offenses launched by alleged thieves, cybercriminals and nation state actors.

It recently patented a microchip that allows Fend to protect a wider variety of goods. Any manufacturer can embed the chip into small-scale products, such as medical devices and delivery drones, to keep them secure.

“We’re talking about cars, power plants, and other machines that keep the economy going,” CEO and founder Colin Dunn said in a press release. “Our users will be able to feed data into next-generation AI tools while permanently keeping attackers out.”

Like its first product — a “data diode” that looks like an internet modem — the new chip dictates how devices “talk” to the internet, such that hackers cannot find a way to wrest control.

“Because we maintain that physically applied, one-way data flow, that means nobody from the outside can ever hack in, and that’s a bold claim but it’s the sort of thing that our infrastructure needs,” Dunn told ARLnow.

Amid reports of continued attacks on national infrastructure, he said, governments also have to protect their older systems, such as energy plants, which have been retrofitted for internet connectivity.

“These are folks that have big, important equipment that makes modern life possible, whether it’s making the goods in our homes or bringing clean water to our neighborhoods,” Dunn said. “And they also have a big target on their back as well from those who would like to disrupt their operations.”

This is Fend’s fifth year in Arlington. The company is in the midst of fundraising, with the goal of expanding further.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity here to — really from almost the very beginning — do this in Arlington, and make a contribution to the security of our country and around the world right here from home,” Dunn said.

An engineer works on Fend’s data diodes (courtesy of Bryant Cox)

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