Israel: Accelerating Global Cybersecurity Innovation
Last year, Tom Bossert, former White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, disclosed the new partnership to combat cyberattacks during remarks at an annual cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv.
“These high-level meetings represent the first step in strengthening bilateral ties on cyber issues following President Trump’s visit to Israel,” Bossert said at Cyber Week 2017, according to Reuters. “The agility Israel has in developing solutions will innovate cyber defenses that we can test here and bring back to America,” the White House aide continued. “Perfect security may not be achievable but we have within our reach a safer and more secure Internet.”
The strengthening of the U.S.-Israel partnership makes great sense on many levels including the rate of investments, collaboration and technical capabilities, government support, and resourcefulness.
The New York data firm CB Insights notes that Israel, the country with the world’s 100th-largest population, signed the second-largest number of cybersecurity deals internationally last year.
And according to a report published by Startup Nation, investors poured a record-breaking $815 million into the Israeli cyber ecosystem in 2017, totaling some 16% of all global investment in the cybersecurity industry, despite Israelis making up only about 0.1% of the world population. The report states that “Individual hackers are now armed with state-level cyberattack capabilities.”
According to YL Ventures, the global cybersecurity incursions of 2017 illuminated the continuing role that innovation plays in information security and defense. They believe that Israeli startups will continue in 2018 to leverage the immense pool of local talent to build comprehensive solutions addressing global markets.
With regards to talent, Israel is one of the most highly educated nations in the world per capita. Moreover, since it is a citizen army, many Israelis gain technical capabilities in security missions, including cybersecurity. One of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) most prestigious units is called Unit 8200. The unit is responsible for intercepting and collecting digital communication and intelligence on Israel’s enemies. In recent months, it has shared information with allies and thwarted attacks in France, Australia and other countries. Unit 8200 are on the front line of Israel’s cyberwars for identifying and mitigating threats.
Former members of Unit 8200 comprise several of the most innovative startups coming out of Israel. This is not surprising because the Israeli government encourages entrepreneurship in coordination with accelerators, incubators, academia and Israel-based businesses.
This is a unique mode that allows for real world experience integrated into technologies combined with validation of applications. It also stimulates global collaboration and brings companies to Israel.
Creating skilled cybersecurity workers is also a national priority in Israel. Cybersecurity education in Israel can start as early kindergarten. In some Israeli schools, fourth-graders learn computer programming while gifted 10th-graders take after-school classes in encryption tactics and coding. Cybersecurity is offered as an elective in Israel high schools.
Because of an educational system offering training in cybersecurity from the beginning, innovative tech approaches derived in real experiences via the IDF, and their ability to bring speed to market, Israel has become in many eyes a global foundry for cybersecurity.
Cooperative innovation such as that between Israel and the United States is an evolving paradigm for successful operations in the global marketplace. It not only involves being innovative and technologically competent, but also protecting security assets in the expanding threat environment.
According to Start-up Nation, at the end of 2017, there were some 420 active cybersecurity firms in Israel. More than thirty multinational corporations have cybersecurity-related R&D innovation centers locally, including AT&T, Dell EMC, Intel, Oracle, IBM, and Daimler Benz. Innovation centers and the corresponding communities are cost-effective. It allows a sponsor to utilize funding to draw a broad range of individuals and businesses to it. This offers significant access to cybersecurity leaders, technologies, business ideas and partnership opportunities. Innovation centers will dramatically enhance a corporate sponsor’s research and development, business pipeline and talent pool.
The former director of the CIA, Gen. David Petraeus, at a recent conference in Tel Aviv called Israel a “cyber superpower,” Petraeus said the partnership between the US and Israel has allowed the two countries to foil threats together. “The collaboration reaches new heights time and time again, far beyond what is being published in the media.”
Some of the areas of cybersecurity collaboration that Israel specializes in include vulnerability and risk management, IoT security, network security, advanced persistent treats, SCADA security and incident response. The innovation and collaboration correlates directly to the increasing sophisticated global threat landscape that can directly impact the viability of a country’s economy.
A country’s reputation and revenue pipelines are all directly threatened by cyber-attacks and breaches in this era of connectivity. A cyber-attack takes place every 39 seconds and the sophistication and capabilities of hackers and other threat actors are morphing and growing. A new report by Juniper Research has found that criminal data breaches will cost businesses a total of $8 trillion over the next 5 years, due to higher levels of Internet connectivity and inadequate enterprise wide security.
A 2017 study by Toffler Associates, “The Future of Security and Protection,” summarized the state of global commerce, concluding that “successful organizations understand that a culture of security and protection begins at the top and innovative approaches are differentiators in a competitive and complex environment.”
Indeed, Israel epitomizes a culture of security and protection. It also personifies the resourcefulness and risk-taking necessary to address current and evolving threats. The Cyber Startup Observatory© Israel CyberSlide© is a formidable representation of the type and extent of Israeli expertise and innovation available on the cybersecurity global stage.
Chuck Brooks is the Principal Market Growth Strategist for General Dynamics Mission Systems for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies. He is also Adjunct Faculty at Georgetown University’s Applied Intelligence Program where he teaches course on risk management, homeland security, and cybersecurity. LinkedIn named Chuck as one of “The Top 5 Tech People to Follow on LinkedIn” out of their 550 million members. He was named by Thompson Reuters as a “Top 50 Global Influencer in Risk, Compliance,” and by IFSEC as the “#2 Global Cybersecurity Influencer” in 2018. In both 2017 and 2016, he was named “Cybersecurity Marketer of the Year by the Cybersecurity Excellence Awards. He is also a Cybersecurity Expert for “The Network” at the Washington Post and Visiting Editor at Homeland Security Today.