If you are looking to see the latest in cybersecurity technology, you might want to attend the fourth annual CyberTech Israel, which brings cybersecurity experts and professionals from all over the world to Tel Aviv. Last year’s conference drew 21,000 attendees.
This year, CyberTech will feature panel sessions with prominent members of the cybersecurity community, networking opportunities and educational presentations, many of which will feature speakers from IBM.
The Rise of Cybersecurity in Israel
“Security is a subject that can be taught theoretically, but nothing is a substitute for a real, hands-on experience, and we’ve got lots of it,” Dudu Mimran, chief technology officer (CTO) at the Cyber Security Research Center at Ben-Gurion University, told Fortune in 2015.
While there is no direct link between the Israeli military and the IT industry, there is a constant flow of people who graduate from cyber-oriented military units and those who go on to enjoy vibrant careers in the private sector. Oftentimes, soldier buddies may even end up co-founding cybersecurity startups.
“I think Israel has become an information security center mainly due to the army, which trains bright people who might not have been exposed to the field otherwise,” said Lior Keshet, malware research technical lead at IBM Trusteer.
The spinoff effect from Check Point Software, a multinational cybersecurity firm that has been based in Tel Aviv for more than 20 years, also contributes to the startup boom in Israel. As managers look for new challenges, they naturally migrate toward startups.
A New Challenge
“The challenge with security is now moving from a purely tactical approach to a strategic approach,” said Etay Maor, senior fraud prevention strategist at IBM Security. “We see the same thing in the types of solutions offered today.”
To that end, the center of gravity for cybersecurity in Israel is shifting south, as exemplified by the CyberSpark Advanced Technology Park in Beer Sheva. These facilities house dozens of research labs and offices of established companies such as Deutsche Telekom, EMC, PayPal and Cisco. Express trains run from the main Tel Aviv stations, enabling security professionals to complete the journey in under an hour.
This isn’t the only new development in town, however. Various Israeli military elite cyber units are also moving nearby.
“A lot of cities in Israel have high-tech business parks, but we want to make Beer Sheva special,” Tom Ahi Dror, head of human capital development at the Israeli National Cyber Bureau, told me in an interview for IT World. “The basic building blocks are here and we need to play our cards right and take advantage of them.”