Darktrace signs to McLaren for 2020 F1 season

McLaren Racing has enlisted Darktrace to become its official artificial intelligence cyber security partner

Formula One team McLaren Racing, alongside its parent McLaren Group, is to use artificial intelligence (AI)-driven cyber security technology from UK cyber security unicorn Darktrace to improve visibility across its IT estate – from its on-board internet of things (IoT) sensors through to its cloud-based backend – in a multi-year partnership.

Currently resurgent after several years of poor results on the racetrack, McLaren must eke out any technological advantage it can in the highly digitised world of F1.

The team said that Darktrace’s “machine fights back” autonomous response technology – a cyber security AI that automatically blocks attacks at a speed and scale that humans would be incapable of, will sit well alongside the “time is of the essence” strategy prized by F1 drivers, strategists and race engineers.

“We are proud to welcome Darktrace for the first time into the fast-moving world of Formula One and to the McLaren Racing partner family,” said McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

“Data is the lifeblood of our racing strategy, and so strong cyber resilience is key to our success on the tracks. We look forward to starting our partnership together this season as Darktrace’s cyber AI will, for the first time, allow our infrastructure to be self-defending.”

Darktrace CEO Poppy Gustafsson added: “We are excited to be partnering with McLaren, a company with innovation at its core.

“Cyber attacks that seek to cause disruption to global events, as well as attacks that subtly steal coveted IP, are on the rise. We are proud that our technology is being trusted to automatically protect the McLaren team, enabling them to race to the finish line in the knowledge that their systems are secured by world-leading cyber AI.”

Alongside the technology partnership, Darktrace will take a highly visible spot on the rear wing of McLaren’s MCL35 2020 F1 car, and on the race suits of its drivers, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.

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Founded in 2013, Darktrace is one of a number of UK cyber scaleups that are enjoying exponential growth and helping power the British security industry to new heights. As highlighted in a recent report by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the sector as a whole has made sales of over £8bn since 2017, and contributed nearly £4bn to the UK economy.

It has modelled its AI system on the human immune system and bills itself as being able to detect cyber threats that legacy systems might miss, identifying a diverse range of potential threats – such as insider attacks, latent vulnerabilities, cloud-based threats and state-backed threats – at their earliest stages.

Its autonomous response technology, Antigena, was launched four years ago and enables this technological immune system to react even more quickly, with the idea of giving hard-pressed human security teams the time they need to catch up. Darktrace claims this innovation protected hundreds of customer networks from severe damage during the WannaCry ransomware incident of 2017.

Besides McLaren, it is in use at 3,000 organisations worldwide, including BT, First Great Western, Metro Bank, Ocado, TSB and William Hill.

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