At the end of June 2014, a trade delegation of ten leading Israeli cyber security companies visited London for a programme of business meetings and high-level introductions to representatives of UK Banks and financial institutions. This delegation visit to London – the first of its kind in Europe – is already proving to be one of the most successful programmes to date for the Economic and Trade Mission at the Embassy of Israel in London. Delegation Project Leads Daniel Sherman and Idan Ben Yaacov offer their thoughts on the visit.
Over the past decade, the internet and a range of other developments in digital technologies have completely changed the landscape of social and economic interaction. The methods we now use to communicate, learn, socialise and do business are almost completely unrecognisable to the ones we used before the ‘digital revolution’.
At the heart of most of these new methods is a requirement to access and share increasing amounts of data and information. This has presented society with some great opportunities and enormous potential. However, it has also presented a huge risk – one already being exploited by criminals, terrorists and state-sponsored activists.
According to a recent report by the British Bankers Association (BBA), 2013 witnessed “an exponential increase in cyber-attacks” and PwC’s Information Security Breach Survey 2013 demonstrated that 93 per cent of large organisations suffered a security breach last year.
Technology – the potential for good
Israel has long developed the ability to harness the potential that technology offers. It has built up several world-leading technology-based industries, and it has cemented its position as the ‘Start-Up Nation’.
Over the past few years, we – the Economic and Trade Mission – have instigated and organised a number of delegation programmes that have seen scores of leading Israeli technology companies visit London. These delegations, which have proven to be most successful in recent years, have spanned a large number of industries, and have always been met with great intrigue and excitement from the UK.
However, Israeli ingenuity in cyber security truly stands out as being one of the most exciting areas of development, both in the Israeli tech scene and also in the global cyber arena. Here, Israel is placed among the very best of world leaders and its cyber industry continues to receive huge international interest.
In line with such interest, we brought ten world-class Israeli cyber security companies over to London, for a three-day visit between 24 and 26 June. While in the UK capital, the delegates enjoyed a total of over 250 meetings or introductions over the course of the programme.
Israel-UK cyber partnership
In many areas of society, and certainly across numerous industries, Israel and the UK enjoy a flourishing and vibrant partnership. Many of these industry partnerships are technology-based, and time and again they have brought real added-value to both sides. Israeli technology start-ups are offering UK enterprises a real competitive edge over the market and an enhanced service capability. While at the same time, the UK multinationals are offering these relatively small – but technologically gifted – Israeli companies avenues and routes to brand new and exciting global markets.
In cyber security, this is no different. Furthermore, as is the case with many other tech-sectors, both governments are working to ensure that even beyond the G-to-G level, this partnership is given every opportunity to guarantee its longevity and succeed.
Just before our cyber delegation touched down in London, Israel’s National Cyber Bureau and the Office for Cyber Security and Information Assurance (OCSIA) at the UK Cabinet Office set up a joint bilateral fund for collaborative cyber-defence research. Signed in London in May, this fund has set aside 7m NIS (1.2m GBP) for the aim of strengthening collaboration in research and promoting joint projects in cyber security between British and Israeli researchers.
This is part of the long term strategy for Israeli-British cyber cooperation. However, to truly reinforce these foundations, something more tangible in the short term is required. This trade mission to London was therefore the next obvious layer in this blossoming bilateral cyber relationship.
An obvious opportunity
From the beginning of our planning process, it was clear to us that cyber is too large of an area to try and cover all at once. As such, we were keen to ensure that this visit was focused on the financial sector only (or more specifically the banking process), owing to the obvious opportunity for mutual benefit.
It is currently estimated that cybercrime costs the U.K. economy roughly £1.27 billion per year and many financial institutions are now waking up to the idea that they need improve their defensive capabilities. In a recent article for the Wall Street Journal blog ‘Digits’, Amir Mizroch quoted Sally Scutt, Deputy Chief Executive of the BBA, as saying that “most of the banks her association represents, some 180 of them, have been on the receiving end of cyber-attacks” and that as such, recently “banks have been investing heavily in cyber defence”.
With this in mind, the aim of our delegation programme was to provide an opportunity for the Israeli companies to meet and network with potential partners, clients and key decision makers in this industry. The visit was designed to provide an opportunity for the delegates to forge partnerships in the UK, while exploring collaborations that could open up new avenues to the European and global markets.
To do this, we designed the programme to include four main pillars.
The first pillar was the ‘company visits’. We took the delegation to meet with eight different banks, private wealth management institutions or other entities involved in the banking process. For these company visits, the delegates had the opportunity to present their companies and solutions, after which they discussed the current strategies that the UK companies are exercising.
For the second pillar, we organised a private roundtable discussion between the delegates and representatives of banks, private wealth management companies, credit card companies and large global integrators not already engaged through the company visits. The discussion was titled “Questioning the Banking Cyber Security Paradigm” and it focussed on some of the most prevalent cyber-issues facing the banking industry.
World renowned Israeli cyber security expert, Dr Nimrod Kozlovski – who was leading our delegation – and Rhys Bowen, Deputy Director of OCSIA, both offered some opening remarks and then participated in the discussion, which was facilitated and hosted by the BBA.
In addition to this event, we also organised a bilateral cyber industry engagement session, with help from the UK Government. Here we brought our delegates together with ten UK cyber security companies to explore possible avenues for joint projects, where the fruits of such endeavours can be jointly exported to markets around the world.
The final of the four pillars was an extremely successful networking reception with over fifty senior-level representatives and key decision makers involved in the banking process or cyber security operations. The light drinks reception also included a short address from Dr Kozlovski, who gave an overview of the development of both the global industry of cyber as well as Israel’s unique expertise in this area.
Reviewing the success
In addition to the many positive emails and comments that we have received from the UK companies who met with the delegation, the greatest test of our success comes from the comments of the Israeli companies who participated. Here are some of the comments that we received.
James Collins of Seculert said: “this was a great opportunity for Seculert to meet with decision makers in Cyber Security from UK Enterprise. To concentrate multiple senior level meetings in a few days is efficient and mutually beneficial. The Embassy’s organisation really was exemplary. I look forward to attending the next event.”
Eran Ashkenazi of Sentinel-labs said: “Not only did we receive such a well-organised meeting agenda, but I was also given a chance to have my company’s agenda presented to the top executives of the financial industry in London. This is something I could have never achieved myself, or even with the help of our VCs. It was truly excellent.”
Ayelet Porat of WCK said: “I have already heard from one of the companies we met who wish to continue discussions. That is an amazing preliminary result of the very productive Israeli Cyber Security Delegation visit that you organised so well. I couldn’t ask for a better start to the follow-ups.”
How we move forward
Cyber security it is an expertise that Israel has built up for over twenty years and it is something very much at the heart of Israel’s current agenda. It now has both the creative ability and the battle-proven experience in cyber security – offensive and defensive.
At a recent meeting of the Israeli Cabinet, Dr Evyatar Matanya, the Head of Israel’s National Cyber Bureau, announced that in 2013, Israel’s exports in cyber-defence totalled $3 billion. This accounted for 5% of the global cyber market that year, which was estimated at around $60 billion.
Furthermore, in 2013 there were approximately 200 cyber-security start-ups operating in Israel, who have been joined by a further 20 global enterprises and multinationals who have established R&D centres in the country for the exclusive purpose of innovation in cyber-defence.
However, Israel now needs the partners who can help deliver these game-changing technologies to new markets and new opportunities around the world. This recent delegation visit to London is definitely a real step in that direction and from the feedback that we have received so far, things are certainly moving.
While we are happy and grateful for this success, we will not rest on our laurels. We are currently putting plans in place for a second Israeli cyber security delegation visit to London, which will take place before the end of this year. We will release more information in due course, but for now it is simply a matter of saying ‘watch this space’.
The Israeli Delegation
The companies that participated in our first Israeli cyber security delegation visit to London offered solutions for the issues of Zero-Day-Attacks, Man-in-the-Middle, Man-in-the-Browser, DDoS, Brute Force Attacks, Continuous Transparent Authentication, Identity Provisioning and Governance and Management. The companies were as follows: