BlackBerry said Friday it will acquire machine-learning specialist Cylance for $1.4 billion to enhance the security of its software for autonomous vehicles and “Enterprise of Things” (EoT) platform.

BlackBerry’s QNX unit offers solutions for connected and self-driving vehicles including infotainment and in-car network security. The Canadian company also recently launched BlackBerry Spark, a platform designed to provide “kernel to edge” security for Internet of Things devices used by enterprises.

Some 20 billion devices are expected to be connected to the Internet by 2020, presenting a major business opportunity for cybersecurity firms.

“Cylance’s leadership in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity will immediately complement our entire portfolio,” BlackBerry CEO John Chen said in a news release.

“We believe adding Cylance’s capabilities to our trusted advantages in privacy, secure mobility, and embedded systems will make BlackBerry Spark indispensable to realizing the Enterprise of Things,” he added.

Cylance, which was founded in 2015, uses machine learning to preempt security breaches before they occur.

BlackBerry said Cylance’s software “has proven highly effective at predicting and preventing known and unknown threats to fixed endpoints” and the company “generates highly recurring revenue from over 3,500 active enterprise customers, including more than 20% of the Fortune 500.”

“We are eager to leverage BlackBerry’s mobility and security strengths to adapt our advanced AI technology to deliver a single platform,” Cylance co-founder and CEO Stuart McClure said.

As Reuters reports, Blackberry, once the world’s No. 1 smartphone brand, has shifted to “selling software to manage mobile devices, as well as emerging areas like autonomous cars.” The company now generates more than 90% of its revenue from software and services.

In a recent survey by research firm Gartner, security was cited as the main barrier to the success of IoT devices. Almost half a million pacemakers had to be recalled in the U.S. last year because they were found to be vulnerable to cyber “intrusions and exploits.”

The Financial Times noted that Blackberry is hoping to “apply its experience and reputation for high-level security in smartphones … to a broader range of devices.”

Photo: Pixabay

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