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A Reality-check of Israeli Cybersecurity Industry

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The Israeli Cybersecurity Industry has been evolving into a fully grown Industrial sector with global presence. Read on to know more about the Israeli Cybersecurity Industry…

Cyber incidents dominated global headlines over the past year, indicating not only a growing trend, but one that is escalating in size, frequency and devastating effect. 2018 saw the high-profile ransomware attacks which all of which were destructive and highly effective in their aim. It is now abundantly clear that no organization or country is immune when it comes to cyber-attacks. Concurrently, the Israeli cybersecurity Industry continued its long-term growth during 2018, solidifying its position as a source of innovation for cyber defenders all over the world.

The Israeli ecosystem is a constantly evolving framework for collaboration between the government (including the military), businesses, and universities, with the government playing mostly a guiding, advisory role.

Investment
Last year, the Israeli government just launched a three-year program to boost investments in cybersecurity companies. In August 2018, Israel announced that it would be investing 90 million shekels ($24 million) in its cybersecurity industry, according to Reuters. As reported by the Times of Israel, Israel is largely regarded as the second biggest cybersecurity market in the world, winning 16% of all cybersecurity investments made around the globe. With the new investment, the Israeli government could help bolster its position as a cybersecurity leader and continue to make the country an attractive place for security startups.

According to the Reuters report, the money is coming as part of a three-year program targeting companies that are dealing with R&D around high-risk activities. These companies will be able to receive up to 5 million shekels, or $1.36 million, per year, the report said. Aharon Aharon, head of the Israel Innovation Authority, told Reuters that the program hopes to give security companies a place to test their technologies, while also helping bring their products to the global market more quickly and achieve better market penetration.

The Israeli government, as seen with this investment, is also a major catalyst for new cyber businesses in the country. However, schools like the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev also play a major role in the perception of Israel as a security powerhouse, constantly releasing new security research in growing industries.

Israel Defense Forces
A key aspect that plays into Israel’s security ecosystem is the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Because of the IDF’s central role in Israel, and the country’s conscription policy, there are many citizens coming out of the military that choose to put their newfound intelligence to work by building a security startup. The IDF’s Unit 8200 has also served as somewhat of a startup accelerator and incubator as well.

The 8200 Unit, an elite part of the Israeli Defense Force that is becoming the training ground for some of the hottest cybersecurity companies in the world. The 8200 Unit is part of the country’s intelligence division, and veterans from that unit have given rise to a booming cybersecurity industry. Currently, there are more than 400 cybersecurity companies active in Israel, a country that is only slightly larger than the state of New Jersey. Many of those companies are working with automakers to tackle a host of security issues with connected and self-driving cars.

Israel faces hundreds of cyberattacks each month on government websites and data systems. This year, the Israel Defense Forces issued a rare press release concerning the 8200 Unit, claiming the group prevented an ISIS air attack against a Western country in 2017.

Human Resource
In terms of human resource, skills, experience, and ambitions are the most important ingredient in cybersecurity. Israel is known for its dynamic culture, with its hallmarks of improvisation, innovation, and initiative. The professional drive of its people are channeled into specific academic pursuits through government and private sector investments and programs. Cybersecurity education starts in middle school and Israel is the only country in the world in which cybersecurity is an elective in high school matriculation exams. A number of Israeli universities offer undergraduate specialization in cybersecurity and Israel was the first country in which you could get a PhD in cybersecurity (as an independent discipline, not as a computer science subject). Today, there are six university research centers dedicated to cybersecurity.

Innovation Ecosystem
As the Israeli cybersecurity ecosystem becomes one of the clear leaders of the global Industry, Multi-National Companies (MNCs) are increasingly making the strategic decision to engage. Leading MNCs are collaborating with early and late-stage Israeli cybersecurity start-ups, fully realizing that their cutting-edge developments and ideas answer the challenges of today and tomorrow. Similarly, several large security vendors are attracting Israeli talents and ideas, to develop future products. Start-Up Nation Central, an authoritative source on the Israeli innovation ecosystem, over the past few years has helped dozens of multinational CEOs, CIOs and CISOs to realize the potential of collaboration with the local ecosystem, learn various ways to connect, and take their first steps in Israel.

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