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Israel becomes ‘breeding ground’ for cybersecurity tech talent

Israel becomes ‘breeding ground’ for cybersecurity tech talent

Intelligent CIO Europe explores a new collaboration between global cyber-education leader Cybint, a BARBRI company, and Ariel University, who are teaming up to improve the future of cyber-education in Israel.

The Ariel University Cyber Innovation Center, powered by Cybint and the university’s professional teams, boasts a comprehensive portfolio of online cyber-education offerings, from Cybint’s cyber literacy programmes to its rigorous cybersecurity/intelligence virtual labs and access to one of the world’s most advanced Cyber Range environments. The Cyber Innovation Center’s training and courses will be available to students and alumni of the university and serve as a workforce development and continuing education resource for professionals, members of the military and others. Certifications through the Cyber Innovation Center are aligned with the NICE (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education) and Israel National Cyber Directorate frameworks. Courses and training include:

Level One – Cybint’s Cyber Literacy Programmes: Cyber has become a ubiquitous and important component in non-technological fields of study such as business, law, criminal justice, finance and others. Cybint’s cyber literacy courses provide professionals a basic, comprehensive grounding in cyber terminology, threats and opportunities.

Level Two – Cybint’s Hands-On Simulator-Labs: The most critical component for a career in cybersecurity is hands-on skills. Cybint’s Cyber Security Analyst (CSA) Simu-Lab Suite, the product of extensive military and industry experience, offers advanced practical training in a simulated environment. It provides learners with the skills required to work as a cybersecurity analyst in Security Operation Centers – allowing them to gain the skills and experience to start working in the cyber industry – even without a computer science degree.

Cyber Range – The Cyber Range presents learners with cyber threats and live advanced group simulation to mimic real cyberattacks, and challenges them to mitigate and resolve them as quickly as possible. The platform is designed to simulate networks, traffic and attack scenarios to train and test people, procedures and technologies in a safe and controlled environment. The Cyber Range can be accessed on-premises or remotely.

“Cyber knowledge is increasingly important in every facet of our workforce across industries,” said Cybint CEO, Roy Zur. “Yet we are facing a severe global shortage of this knowledge and overall cyber expertise. Cybint’s mission focuses on working with partners such as Ariel University to close that knowledge gap and equip students and professionals with the cyber knowledge they need to understand both the threats and the opportunities and protect their organisations. We’re very excited about the new Cyber Innovation Center and look forward to its positive impact.”

“The launch of the Cyber Innovation Center is part of our commitment to offer innovative, career-enhancing education for our students, alumni and other professionals,” said Danny Hardon, Head of the Ariel University Research and Development Authority. “We’re pleased and excited to partner with Cybint – an industry leader in Israel and the U.S. – to deliver this important and relevant education through our new Center.”

Industry experts based in Israel offer their views on what is driving the success of the cybersecurity industry in the country.

Firstly, Jeffrey Starr, CMO at AlgoSec, provides his opinion on the subject.

“The cybersecurity sector in Israel is exceptionally advanced and forward-thinking. The foundations for this have been laid in a national acceptance that cyberattacks evolve quickly and are highly unpredictable. This has created a culture whereby the security sector doesn’t seek solutions for just any one attacker as you end up being one step behind.

“Instead, the sector focuses on potential steps and organisations as the first line of defence. This strategy has three levels – robustness, resilience and defence – aimed at cybersecurity being more proactive than reactive. With this in mind, Israeli cybersecurity companies tend to develop agile and adaptable solutions that can evolve with the threat landscape, which makes the solutions highly attractive to a global audience.”

Starr believes there are two key drivers behind this success.

“First, the government has taken a leading role in developing a cybersecurity strategy and supporting the sector. This has created an ecosystem for collaboration between the government, businesses and universities that is well-equipped to both respond and proactively prepare for cyberthreats.

“Second, the country has committed to developing human skills and expertise in the sector which has seen Israel develop a highly specialised pool of talent whose primary mission has been coping with unique security challenges through rapid technological innovation. For instance, cybersecurity education starts in primary school and continues right through to university, while there are also several government-sponsored programmes aimed at finding promising youth and providing them with specialised training. Recently, this talent pool has been further strengthened by a large influx of highly educated, highly skilled workers from Russia, which has in turn brought new perspectives and approaches that have further enhanced our long-term strategy.”

We also hear from Liron Barak, CEO and Co-founder of BitDam.

“Today, there are more than 420 active cybersecurity technologies start-ups in Israel. This number has nearly tripled in the last few years and is likely to increase in the near future. According to a recent report by Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), cybersecurity Israeli start-ups raised over US$800 million in 2017, with an average seed investment today standing at US$3.6 million for companies aiming to address an issue in the security area.

The cybersecurity industry in Israel is growing rapidly, but in a stable way as most companies are innovative and have a deep technological focus within their solution. One of the reasons behind this could be the mandatory army service in Israel, where talented high school students are trained to serve in the intelligence force and deal with cyberthreats and cybersecurity. The expensive training programmes, the years of experience from the field and the enthusiasm of young individuals creates a unique combination that nourishes creativity and further develops problem-solving skills. This set of skills proves crucial for understanding today’s cyberthreat landscape and developing extraordinary and unique ideas to tackle those issues.

Looking forward, the security solutions will have to be more robust and proactive as the attacks are becoming more sophisticated using various evasion techniques, technical manipulation and file-less approaches to bypass existing security means. In addition, the growing number of connected devices will continue to prove a challenge to security teams across the world. The complexity and diversity of these devices will increase the attack surface and fuel the capability for more sophisticated and damaging attacks.”

Finally, we hear from Eldad Chai, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Imperva.

“Israel is without a doubt one of the world’s leading cybersecurity superpowers. With an estimated US$814.5 million in venture capital and private equity investments raised in Israel in 2017, which accounted for 16% of overall cybersecurity investments worldwide, the country has well and truly cemented itself as a cybersecurity powerhouse.

But what exactly drove this success?

There are various reasons why Israel became so successful and interestingly, they all feed into each other, creating the perfect ecosystem.

The key driver behind the growth of the cybersecurity industry globally is an increase in demand for powerful security solutions from organisations across the world. In the last few years, global-scale cyberattacks have become the norm and the theft of digital data has become a regular occurrence. As a result, the need to protect an organisation’s digital assets has become critical and demand for solutions that provide this service has skyrocketed. Gartner estimates that the spend on security in 2018 will total US$96.3 billion, representing an 8% increase from 2017.

This demand for new and more powerful solutions ultimately drives more investors to invest in the cybersecurity industry and thus encourage cybersecurity start-ups to enter the market. In 2017 alone, Israel saw cybersecurity start-up exits worth US$1.3 billion with acquisitions from giants including Symantec, Microsoft and Palo Alto Networks.

However, demand alone does not explain why Israel, of any other country, became such a powerhouse for cybersecurity technology. One of the key drivers behind Israel’s success comes down to security talent. Israel’s mandatory military service, combined with the Ministry of Defence’s large investment in cybersecurity capabilities are generating a constant stream of talented, trained and experienced personnel coming out of the military and straight into the inviting high salaries and perks of the hi-tech industry. In addition, many of the top universities in the country offer students cybersecurity programmes, allowing them to hone their skills in a classroom environment before embarking on a career at one of Israel’s many security companies. Many students will have a job secured or be carrying out work experience even before they have graduated. The government and private sector are always searching for security talent and universities are the first place they look.

One other area that works in Israel’s favour is the close-knit community within the cybersecurity industry. Most organisations are located in a few key areas, which essentially means that bumping into a cybersecurity investor is a lot more likely than it would be in other cybersecurity hubs, like California for example.

With all of these factors combined, Israel has become the perfect breeding ground for cybersecurity talent, start-ups and tech.”

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