Economist: Israel’s arms exports fell last year. Cutbacks in the defence budgets of many Western countries pushed the global sales of Israeli weapons systems down to $5.7 billion, $1 billion less than in 2013. Unexpectedly, another security-related industry took up the slack. For the first time, the country sold more cyber-wares than arms. According to figures published recently by the cyber-task-force in the prime minister’s office, in 2014 Israeli companies sold around $6 billion of internet-security software, equivalent to about a tenth of the entire worldwide sales of such stuff.
The number of Israeli cyber-security companies has doubled over the past five years to 300. Demand for their products has boomed, as businesses and governments everywhere have come to realise—often the hard way—that they need to protect themselves against hacking. And Israel has a good supply of experienced software engineers. They come mainly from two sources: first, employees of the 280 high-tech development centres in Israel owned by foreign multinationals, who have begun to strike out on their own; and second, the hundreds of people with suitable skills who leave the Israel Defence Forces each year. The forces have for decades been developing their capabilities—both defensive and offensive—in cyber-warfare, and this policy is now paying a civilian dividend.
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