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In recent years, our world has become hyper-connected, and while that offers many substantial benefits to both corporations as well as individuals, these benefits come with a hefty price tag on our privacy and security.

Countries and businesses alike have already acknowledged the fact that these cyber threats are not merely a technological issue waiting to be solved by talented minds, but are a fundamental threat that affects almost all aspects of our modern lives. These threats won’t disappear if we close our eyes, and the technological advances mean that danger is now everywhere.

Cyber-attacks have become a common phenomenon. These attacks and breaches happen on a daily basis, and can affect large corporations, causing damage that can sum up to hundreds of millions of dollars. In fact, over the past five years, cyber security breaches have increased by 67%, and ransomware attacks now occur every 14 seconds.

The recent attack on the Marriott International in November 2018, hackers stole data of approximately 500 million customers. After a second major attack on Yahoo, in September 2016, the company announced it was the victim of the biggest data breach in history, which compromised real names, email addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers of about 3 billion users. Additionally, there have been major attacks that compromised the personal information of users of Adult Friend Finder, customers of Target and Sony’s PlayStation Network, wherein the last two cases credit card numbers of millions of users were stolen.  All these attacks have several things in common: in the large number of users who had their data stolen and the severe damage caused to the company as a result of this attack.

Some attacks are still more dangerous than others. The increasing digitization of the energy sector and its critical role in the functioning of a modern economy makes the energy sector a very attractive target for cyber-attacks. An attack on energy infrastructure has the potential to cross into the physical world, with the ability to cause ‘domino effect’ damage. Another such example would be the airline industry which is one of the fields that require the most immediate cyber defense solutions, which would cause a catastrophe. A third example is the maritime industry, which is still responsible for 90% of world trade. There are over 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally at any given time and an attack that would create a cascade effect, by disrupting systems in a mega-port such as Rotterdam or Singapore, could have a significant impact on the entire world.

In this ever-changing landscape of threats, cybersecurity professionals are constantly seeking innovative solutions that will keep them ahead of threats and manage various challenges they face. Cybersecurity has become a battlefield.

Among these challenges is the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, which while having benefits in the field of cybersecurity, it also has the potential to be used by cybercriminals in order to hack into systems and steal valuable data.

A second challenge that stems from the very hyper-connectivity itself is the growing use of unsecured IoT and connected devices, often found in the automotive field.

A third challenge that companies face, is caused by the large percentages of the workforce is now working from home, and this percentage is rising. Companies must learn how to protect their assets in different locations other than the traditional workplace.

Yet employees working from home are not the only blind spot for many businesses. There are also risks involving third-party vendors and the supply-chain. A company might have airtight security systems, but their use of third-party vendors might still cause serious damage to their business.

Other issues that companies must face include the conflicts between security requirements and the business, the regulatory demands, ongoing patches and vulnerabilities, the movement of security tools to the cloud as well as the widening shortage of cybersecurity talent.

Israel, as the Startup Nation offers many solutions that can help companies deal with these issues. In fact, in 2018, Israel’s Cybersecurity sector solidified its position as a global center of innovation, and by the end of 2018 there were 450 active Cybersecurity companies in Israel, of which 60 were founded during the past year. Investors from all over the world are increasingly showing confidence in the local industry, which has resulted in a sharp rise in investments during 2018, where we can see an increase of 47% from 2017, to a total of $1.19Bn.

Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the need to protect the national digital systems and in February 2002 the Israeli government passed a resolution assigning the Israel Security Agency with the responsibility of protecting those systems. Israel’s current approach to cybersecurity was shaped by Professor Isaac Ben-Israel in 2010, who advocated for a cyber ecosystem rather than a doctrinal approach. The reasoning behind this approach is that technology was constantly evolving, and that government policy would not be able to adapt quickly enough. In the battlefield of cybersecurity, it would be wise to call upon all of the allies together. This is an important lesson to anyone thinking about cybersecurity.

Thus, Israel has designed a cybersecurity framework rather than a system, which the government coordinates as opposed to directs. In order to deal with cyber threats, close collaboration is needed at the governmental, academic, corporate, and international levels. In Israel, this collaboration includes the Israeli military, multinational corporations, thinktanks such as Team8, the academia, startups and other players in the eco-system, as well as cooperation with over 70 countries in cyber security.

One example is the recent initiative to create the National Fintech-Cyber Innovation lab, in order to accelerate Israeli startups in the Fintech and Cyber industries and to encourage international investments. This is led by Israel’s Ministry of Finance, the Cyber Directorate and the Innovation Authority, and aimed at the creation and operation of a Fintech-Cyber lab that will be privately held by a group of financial institutions and technological companies. The lab will enable the development of cost-effective products, and an answer to cyber threats, regulatory and blockchain challenges. The lab will receive financial benefits, as well as unique benefits, including a direct connection to the Israeli national financial CERT.

Some of the most notable Israelis success stories from recent years include the following companies:

Dome9 – The company delivers verifiable cloud infrastructure security and compliance to businesses at all times, across all public clouds. The company offers technologies to assess security posture, detect misconfigurations, model gold standard policies, protect against attacks and insider threats, and conform to security best practices in the cloud. Businesses use Dome9 Arc for faster and more effective cloud security operations, pain-free compliance and governance, and rugged DevOps practices. The company was acquired in 2018 by Check Point for a reported $179 million.

Secdo – The company offers a preemptive incident-response platform designed to help security teams cut incident response time to minutes, manage attacks immediately without affecting business continuity, and bolster company defenses against future attacks. The company combines historical, thread-level endpoint visibility with its proprietary Causality Analysis Engine to automatically investigate any alert and trace the forensic timeline and attack chain back to the root cause. This process enables Secdo to provide full context, including entities involved, behaviors, infected hosts, damage assessment, and more. The company was acquired by Palo Alto Networks during 2018 for a reported $100 million.

Adallom – The company developed a technology that audits user activity and protects employees and digital assets from threats in real time. Adallom’s technology works similarly to the way credit card companies track transactions that appear out of the ordinary. The company was acquired in 2015 by Microsoft for a reported $320 million.

Sygnia –A cyber technology and services company, which provides high-end consulting and incident response support for organizations worldwide. They apply technological supremacy, digital combat experience, data analytics and a business-driven mindset to cyber security, enabling organizations to excel. The company announced that it is being acquired Temasek for a reported $250 million.

Hexadite – The company offers a fully automated incident response solution that enables organizations to investigate every cyber-alert they receive and close out incidents in minutes, even seconds. The Hexadite Automated Incident Response Solution maximizes an enterprise’s ability to investigate all cyber-alerts, uncover hidden threats and remediate the full extent of a breach to increase the organization’s productivity, reduce ongoing costs, and strengthen the organization’s overall security. The company was acquired in 2017 by Microsoft for a reported $100 million.

Demisto – The company is the developer of Demisto Enterprise, a comprehensive security operations platform that combines security orchestration, incident management, machine learning from analyst activities, and interactive investigation. The company’s engine automates security product tasks and weaves in human analyst tasks and workflows. Demisto enables security teams to reduce mean time to response, create a consistent incident management process, and increase analyst productivity. The company was acquired in 2019 by Palo Alto Networks for a reported $560 million.

Secure Islands – The company developed advanced Information Protection and Control solutions for the borderless enterprise. Offering policy-driven classification and protection for unstructured data, Secure Islands lays the foundation for sensitive information security in enterprises as they shift from perimeter defense to persistent protection. Secure Islands’ holistic approach literally redefines information security and assists the enterprise in regaining control by identifying, classifying and protecting sensitive information throughout its lifecycle. The company was acquired in 2015 by Microsoft for a reported $150 million.

If there is one lesson to learn about our changing world and how to better defend ourselves against the rising cyber threats, it is to innovate and keep up with technology. The best way to do so is to work together with other companies, startups, with academia and the like. In Israel, such possible allies are ready and willing.

About the author

Itai Green is the founder and CEO of Innovate Israel. He is one of the dominant leaders of Israel’s corporate open innovation. Itai is recognised as a leading player in Israel’s startup ecosystem and is at the forefront of launching its growth at a rapid pace. Itai leads innovation processes by connecting global corporations with the Israeli startup community to create advanced technological solutions; focusing on IT, consumer products, pharma, finance, travel, e-commerce, retail, banking, insurance, energy, construction tech and IoT. Itai is a member in several startup advisory boards. In the past, Itai was head of business development and Innovation at Amadeus IT Group in Israel, amongst other prominent positions at Elbit, CEO at Maxtech Technologies, VP Business Development at Techtium and the co-founder of JerusalemOnline. Itai is the founder of the ITTS community (Israel Travel Tech Startups). ITTS houses 350 Israeli traveltech entrepreneurs and strengthens the internal collaboration between startups, as well as increases the level of engagement between startups, multinationals and investors. Itai has also created the IITS community (Israel Insurance Tech Startups) for the Insurance start-up sector.

Email: [email protected]

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