Published On: Tue, Jun 25th, 2019

3 Reasons Why Israel Has Become a Global Cybersecurity Superpower

By Contributing Author

One of the most remarkable business stories of the past decade has been the staggering growth and rising global dominance of Israel’s cybersecurity industry. Last year, 42 Israeli-headquartered firms made Cybersecurity Ventures’ 2018 Cybersecurity 500 list, and according to Crunchbase the country is home to 271 cybersecurity organizations — and counting.

However, while the rapid expansion of Israeli’s cybersecurity sector might come as a surprise to some folks in Silicon Valley, New York City, London and other cybersecurity hubs around the world, it is not random or accidental. On the contrary, it is the direct result of the following factors:

  1. Strong and sustained focus on human capital development

The Israeli government’s view of human capital development could be summed up with: “get them early and teach them often”. Indeed, by the time they are 9 or 10 years old kids are already learning how to program, and by the time they’re 15 or 16 — and long before they formally enter the workforce — they are learning advanced encryption and coding at a level that is unprecedented in most countries around the world. What’s more, young people who demonstrate an aptitude or an interest in technology are quickly enrolled in a range of government-sponsored programs after school. Instead of aimlessly playing video games or finding some other diversion, these kids are cultivated into tomorrow’s tech leaders and cybersecurity specialists who will help secure leading companies in Israel and worldwide.

  1. Mandatory military service

The skills that young adults develop in Israeli Defense Forces profoundly shape and influence their worldview: one in which security is not the responsibility of others or something that just happens on its own, and that quite often the best defense is a potent offense. What’s more, and contrary to the stereotype of endless drills and unwavering tests of obedience and discipline, life for conscripts involves an abundance of team building and collaborative problem-solving exercises, along with opportunities to socialize and build relationships. All of these are translatable skills that are vital in the cybersecurity space, where teamwork does more than make the dream work: it keeps the dream from turning into a nightmare.

  1. Strong support for startups

According to Cybermap, last year there were 174 cybersecurity startups in Israel, and many of them enjoy strong support from both the government and private investment community. In fact, in 2018 cybersecurity firms in Israel raised a whopping $1.03 billion (across all funding stages), which was second only to the U.S. The massive haul represented 20 percent of all venture capital funds invested around the world. Just as a homeowner must invest in professional help to ensure the stability of their house, so too must a country invest in its cybersecurity startups to maintain its infrastructure.

Looking Ahead 

Nobody has a crystal ball (or advanced algorithm) to know with certainty what the cybersecurity space in Israel will look like in the years ahead. However, given the country’s educational programs, cultural advantages, and booming investment infrastructure, it is doubtless that this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg — because as any hacker worth their dark web credentials will readily acknowledge, the cyber threat landscape is only going to get scarier, riskier and tougher to defend in the future.

 

 

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