Israel is at the center of global cybersecurity innovation, largely because the country has needed to constantly battle enemies on its borders, Fortune magazine reported on Tuesday, citing experts.
“The challenging environment Israel faces in the Middle East in the physical world has reflections also on the cyber world,” said Dudu Mimran, CTO of the Cyber Security Research Center at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. “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.”
Israel accounts for 10 percent of global security technology and sales of its security software reached $60 billion in 2014, according to Israel’s National Cyber Bureau.Fortune said that the country’s high-tech power is a result of innovation in Internet security, anti-virus software and other cyber defense technologies.
Israel’s cyber security expertise has evolved from the need to make sure Israelis can take on all types of threats, the publication said. The concern has become central to Israel’s governmental strategy and has turned the cyber security industry into a booming sector of Israel’s economy.
Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, said the increasing use of computer technology for Israeli military operations has strengthened ties between the military and the IT sectors. There has also been a steady flow of former military personnel into defense and IT industry positions, he told Fortune.
“You could argue that this combination of factors—historical, political, societal and cultural—have all combined to make Israel a natural epicenter of security innovation,” King said. “It is certainly timely, especially considering the growing power and threat of global cyber attacks.”
Those who graduate from the elite military units which handle Internet-based technologies, including cyber warfare, become highly desired talent for private companies, Fortune reported.
One of the first cyber security solutions created for Internet-connected computers was developed by Tel Aviv-based Check Point in 1993 and transformed the company into one of the largest tech giants in Israel. The defense software was developed by Israeli entrepreneur and former IDF soldier Gil Shwed, who served in a unit responsible for collecting intelligence signals.
“Connecting the talent pool coming out of defense organizations with the strong entrepreneurial spirit that exists here, and you get the perfect ingredient for a powerhouse, in terms of cyber security startups and technology companies,” Mimran said.
Most major IT companies have opened research facilities in Israel and are looking to the Jewish state for investment opportunities. Microsoft and many other multinational companies already identify Israel as a “cyber powerhouse with the right talent,” Mimran told Fortune.
Microsoft revealed in July its plans to acquire Adallom, a cloud security innovator, for $320 million. Adallom was founded in 2012 by three former IDF soldiers and has some 80 employees in Israel and the U.S., according to Fortune. The company has developed security technology for servers running Microsoft and Google’s cloud services.
Adallom is set to become Microsoft’s center of security business in Israel. Microsoft also recently purchased Israeli security software developer Aorato for a reported $200 million.