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Views From CyberTech: 7 Trends from Israel’s Cybersecurity Conference

Last week in Tel Aviv was a big moment for Israeli cybersecurity. CyberTech Israel, boasting over 10,000 attendees from five continents, quickly established itself as one of the de facto conferences outside of the United States. CyberTech was comprised of the usual conference features: talks, panels, swag, and famous speakers. However, what makes the conference really standout is its access to the latest crop of early stage startups. According to Start-Up Nation Central, total investments in 2016 for the Israeli cybersecurity reached $581 million, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even made an appearance, marking the importance of cybersecurity to Israel and the nation’s identity.

Israeli cybersecurity prominence isn’t new — Check Point and CyberArk are well known and leaders in their respective fields, and you don’t have to look far to find Israeli talent present in other security firms. The blend of military conscription and Israel’s place as a cyberwarfare superpower has helped to create a steady output of innovation and talent. Israeli entrepreneurs are translating the skills and abilities they honed in their IDF service into technologies for the market, giving organizations a view into the bleeding edge in cybersecurity.

Walking the floor of the designated startup area and broader showroom provides a pulse on the newest security technologies. In similar fashion to its American big brother, RSA Conference, CyberTech hosts its own startup competition complete with quick pitches and a judging panel. Despite neat tech, security startups will find success going forward if addressing real business challenges. Major themes gleaned from the conference of particular interest to Work-Bench and our corporate network are solutions that:

  • Fight malware. Protecting users from malware continues to be a huge threat to enterprises. Given today’s cybercriminal market, acquisition of plug and play malware is easier than ever. Malware is also becoming more sophisticated — Kaspersky identified malware on networks belonging to at least 140 banks and other enterprises that is injected into computer memory. Combating the onslaught of malware will take novel tactics. Examples here include Cybellum, who identify zero day attacks in memory, Intezer, who are the “Shazam” for software, Minerva Labs, who use the tricks of evasive malware against them, and Solebit, who uncover hidden code.
  • Speed response. In Cisco’s latest Annual Cybersecurity Report, CSOs cite budget constraints, compatibility issues, and lack of trained personnel among the biggest obstacles to security. At the same time, security teams are facing an onslaught of events and alerts and must respond to incidents and breaches with haste and coordination. Israeli startups addressing this problem include Siemplify, who make security teams smart, and SECDO, who enable security teams to respond.
  • Block fraud. Businesses lose billions of dollars due to fraud. But, businesses risk losing customers if subject to a laborious identity verification process. As all businesses push towards becoming more digital, reducing fraud while maintaining a smooth customer experience is a balancing act. Enter behavioral biometrics. A great complement to digital identity verification startups like Socure, who identify real people based on their digital exhaust, companies like BioCatch and Unbotify are eliminating fraud from either human or bot traffic in real-time based on user interaction.
  • Identify business risk. Security teams must monitor all channels to identify risks to the organization, such as impending cyber or physical attacks or malicious brand impersonation. However, these channels must extend beyond traditional web, social, and mobile into the deep and dark web. Companies like IntSights and Sixgill are shining a light on covert communication to help businesses better prevent and respond to digital risks.
  • Simplify identity. The growth of users, services, and business requests compounded with the risk of sensitive data leakage through malicious and non-malicious means complicates identity and access management. Companies, like SilverFort, are building solutions that deliver support across multiple environments including cloud and on-prem, continuous authentication, contextual-based policy creation, behavioral analytics, and lightweight and unintrusive deployments for users, microservices, and connected devices.
  • Protect privacy. A 2016 Pew Research Center report on privacy and information sharing found that an individual’s interest and overall comfort in dealing with an organization depends on its perceived trustworthiness or safety. At the same time, consumer privacy breaches costs firms actual money, whether it’s doled out in fines, e.g. GDPR, or spent on class action lawsuits. Privacy management startups, like BigID, enable companies to identify, understand, and protect their sensitive consumer data and prepare response to breaches.
  • Secure critical infrastructure. It’s clear from the past year with examples from hacks on power grids to ransomware on public transportation and siphoning of millions from financial infrastructure that it’s time to take critical infrastructure and OT security seriously. Security for ICS and OT was a hot topic at the show. In fact, Aperio Systems won most innovative at the startup competition. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this space as it shakes out, with differing methods for the problem from Claroty, CyberX, Indegy, and Firmitas.

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Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement.