Israel, The New Cyber Superpower

The emerging world of ever-growing connectivity, cybersecurity, and cyber-threats has initiated an uncontrolled transformation in the balance of global superpowers. The old notion of power relying on the number of aircraft and missiles a country owns has expanded to include new terms — terms such as the magnitude of a denial of service attack and the sophistication of advanced persistent attacks, which has changed the landscape forever. A new form of power has emerged, with new rules of engagement expressed by bits and bytes, and deep knowledge of how networks and operating systems work. In the recent decade, Israel naturally evolved to become one of the top players in this new playground, and the reasons for this change are rooted deeply in its history.

Israel, a rather “new” nation on the face of the earth, has two main distinctive characteristics compared to many other countries: the entrepreneurial spirit that served as a backbone for building the country from the ground up and the ongoing resistance of its close and distant neighbors to accept it as a legitimate nation. This ongoing struggle pushed the country to the forefront of technology for both defense and offensive. Furthermore, since Israel is a small country, the goal of seeking an advantage in a different arena where wisdom plays a bigger role than money was natural — the world of cybersecurity created such opportunity. This advantage evolved into a mature and proven cybersecurity capability that is being put to the test every second of the day.

Israel’s cybersecurity core competence has flowed into the commercial world, utilizing its unique entrepreneurial spirit. Cybersecurity as an industry has always been the preferred choice for many entrepreneurs due to their deep expertise in that area. This expertise created a true global competitive edge that was much needed by Israeli companies due to the challenges faced by a small remote country trying to succeed in the main markets of the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Furthermore, the available talent inflow from the army and other defense-related organizations serves as a unique resource that is highly desired nowadays by many multi-national companies that are aiming to establish their cybersecurity presence in Israel.

In recent years, with the emergence of cybersecurity as a globally important topic, Israel maintained its leadership in innovation with a high ratio of startups in that domain. While Israel has several large security companies, its startup industry is perceived as only generating innovative ideas, lacking the ability to sell its products unless acquired by a global company. The Israeli startup industry is supported by the local venture capital industry together with dedicated support from the Israeli government. They are pushing to help more and more Israeli companies become prominent global players on their own.

Israelis once again turned lemons into lemonade by creating strong cyber capabilities as a consequence of its political position and challenges. Furthermore, these capabilities position it as a strong solution provider for many countries and companies facing similar challenges.

Originally published on the CIPHER Brief

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