“In the cyber domain there are no sirens,” Prime Minister Netanyahu told Israel’s fourth annual international cyber security conference last month, according to the The Jerusalem Post.
Case in point is “Operation Cleaver,” a suspected Iranian hacking cabal that has targeted 16 countries, including the U.S. and Israel for two years. U.S. security firm Cylance, which exposed the operation, published a report that included dire warnings from noted experts, including Gabi Siboni, cyber security director at Israel’s Institute of National Security Studies. Siboni, who recently spoke at a Maryland/Israel Development Center program co-hosted by the Offit Kurman law firm, said, “Iran should be considered a first-tier cyber power.”
The rash of cyber-attacks seems never-ending: Sony Pictures, J.P. Morgan, Target and who knows how many others that haven’t been made public. Countries and companies must be ever vigilant. “There is not a person or nation on earth who will not need cyber security,” said Netanyahu.
He speaks from experience. During last summer’s war in Gaza, not only did Hamas try to sneak terrorist squads through tunnels into Israel, they also conducted cyber attacks on Israel’s infrastructure.
Fortunately, “there is an Iron Dome of cyber security that parallels the Iron Dome against the rockets,” Netanyahu said in comparison to Israel’s acclaimed anti-missile system. But are these defenses strong enough? The short answer is a resounding “No.”
Since Israel and the U.S. are in the crosshairs of the world’s cyber attackers, they have been at the forefront of developing cyber defenses. Both countries are pouring resources into cyber development.
In the U.S., much of that work is done in Maryland, by the NSA, the U.S. Cyber Command, the National Cyber Security Center of Excellence in Gaithersburg and a raft of high-tech subcontractors. Just drive through the office parks around BWI International Airport, Fort Meade and up and down the Baltimore-Washington corridor and you’ll see a litany of Fortune 500 high-tech companies from Lockheed Martin to Northrop Grumman, Cisco and hundreds of others, including homegrown SafeNet in Harford County, which acquired Israel’s Aladdin Systems a few years ago for $160 million. UMBC even has a high-tech business incubator specializing in cyber-security companies housing 45 emerging cyber businesses.
To keep the momentum of cooperation going, the MIDC is targeting the cyber security industry for trade missions, delegation exchanges and conferences. In October, we organized a delegation of Israeli companies and representatives to come to the CyberMaryland Conference, including Yoav Tzruya of Jerusalem Venture Partners, the leading cyber security investor in Israel.
In January, we are kicking off our three-part cyber security webinar series for Israeli entrepreneurs on U.S. market entry strategies. This will lead up to our March 16-18 trade mission of Maryland companies to the Israel CyberTech Conference. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet cyber security executives, entrepreneurs and engineers from Israel and dozens of other countries to discuss emerging trends, technologies and business opportunities.
Barry Bogage is executive director of the Maryland/Israel Development Center. For more information, visit marylandisrael.org.