Cybermania

Written on |

How did Israel become a global cyber-power?

Did you know that 40% of all private cyber investments in the world are invested in Israel? Or that a third of the unicorn companies – private start-ups worth more than a billion dollars – are Israeli? How on earth did Israel become a cyber-power, amongst the first countries in the world to recognize the significance of the cyber revolution?

Israel – A Global Cyber Powerhouse in Absolute Numbers

“It’s a unique phenomenon,” says Prof. Eviatar Matania, founding head and former director general of Israel National Cyber Directorate, a member of Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center and head of TAU’s International MA Program in Cyber-Politics and Government and the MA in Security Studies and an adjunct professor at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government.

“Israel leads in various indices in the world of technology and security, but always in relative terms, i.e. per capita or by relative size. In cyber, on the other hand, Israel is a global powerhouse in absolute numbers: 40% of all private investments in the world in cyber reach Israel, and every third Unicorn company is Israeli. Today, cyber accounts for 15% of Israeli hi-tech exports, which is about half of the total exports of the State of Israel, and it will only grow.”

 

In Cyber, We’re All Neighbors

Prof. Matania established and served as the head of the National Cyber bureau and later as the director general of the National Cyber Directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office, reporting directly to the PM, from 2012 until 2018.

“The tipping point of Israel’s journey to become a cyber-power was a visit by then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to [Israel Defense Forces’ Intelligence Corps] Unit 8200 in 2010,” continues Prof. Matania. “Netanyahu was astonished by what he heard from the soldiers. He understood that the new world of cyber posed an extraordinary risk to Israel, as the country would be vulnerable to attacks from anywhere in the world.”

“It should be understood that regarding cyber, everyone is everyone’s neighbor – Israel is a neighbor not only of Syria and Egypt but also of Russia and China. At the same time, Netanyahu was able to see the cyber opportunity for a small country like Israel, which specializes in both technology and security, to take the initiative.”

 

The IDF is awarded the Cyber Shield Award for its contributions to Israel’s cyber ecosystem at Tel Aviv University’s annual Cyber Week 2021. From left to right: Major General Lior Carmeli, Major General Tamir Hayman, Gili Drob-Hiesten Managing Director ICRC, TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat and Prof. Isaac Ben Israel

Building a National Cyber Ecosystem

Netanyahu had a three-vertices cyber system designed, at the top of which stands security and its two bases being academia and industry. Major General (Res.) Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Israel, today head of the Cyber Center at Tel Aviv University, was tasked with leading Israel’s national cyber venture – the purpose of which was to formulate a comprehensive national cyber plan. This was the first of its kind in the world. Netanyahu set a tangible goal for the project: For Israel to be one of the five leading cyber powers in the world. 

“The national cyber system that I headed was the first of its kind in the world,” says Prof. Matania who, together with Amir Rapaport, founder of the Israel Defense magazine and “Cybertech” conferences, has written the book Cybermania: How Israel Became a Global Powerhouse in an Arena That Shapes the Future of Mankind on how Israel evolved into a cyber-power.

“Large budgets were invested in academia and industry and in building dedicated cyber defense capabilities. For example, six cyber research centers have been established at universities, including at Tel Aviv University, and the Chief Scientist has directed investments in startups in the general direction of cyber activities. Additionally, government projects invested in defense initiatives by former intelligence corps soldiers.”

According to Prof. Matania, Israel’s cyber capabilities – in the private sector, in the government and in the defense establishment – also leverage its political achievements. “When Israel signs a cyber-defense alliance with Cyprus and Greece, it does not necessarily need Cyprus or Greece to upgrade its cyber defense – but in return for defense we get payback in other areas. Israel has become synonymous with cyber.”

Related posts

Cyber Week 2022 at TAU: Combating ‘Real and Growing’ Threats

June 23, 2022

Asper Foundation, TAU Launch Innovative Clean Water Project

June 15, 2022

The “Nobel of Mathematics”: TAU Prof. Noga Alon Wins the Prestigious Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences

June 8, 2022

BOG 2022: Kadar Family Award for Outstanding Research Presented to Four TAU Scholars

June 6, 2022

Blavatnik Prizes for Computer Science Awarded to Doctoral Fellows

June 5, 2022

BOG 2022: Smolarz Family Building Dedicated

June 5, 2022

Pride Week on TAU Campus

June 1, 2022

BOG 2022: Strauss Brain Bank Inaugurated

May 31, 2022

TAU Opens Registration for New Management & Liberal Arts BA

May 30, 2022

BOG 2022: From Making Tahini to Advocating Rights

May 29, 2022

BOG 2022: Celebrating Life through Science 

May 29, 2022

BOG 2202: Prajs-Drimmer Fellowships Presented to Students Researching Drug Development

May 27, 2022

BOG 2022: Closner Family Chair for Next Generation Organ and Tissue Implants Inaugurated

May 25, 2022

European Parliament President at TAU: “Where There’s Dialogue, There’s Hope”

May 23, 2022

BOG 2022: TAU Inaugurates Pouran and Parviz Izak Nazarian Building

May 23, 2022

BOG 2022: Arbib Entrance Plaza Named

May 19, 2022

Helping Thousands of Students and Alumni Job-hunt

May 18, 2022

BOG 2022: TAU Inaugurates Sagol Center for Regenerative Medicine

May 17, 2022

Tel Aviv University Launches the International Graduate School for Social Sciences

May 17, 2022

BOG 2022: TAU Inaugurates Koret Center for Jewish Civilization

May 16, 2022

BOG 2022: TAU Inaugurates Sylvan Adams Sports Center

May 14, 2022

BOG 2022: Exposing Hidden Truths from the Female Perspective

May 13, 2022

BOG 2022: TAU Awards Honorary Degrees to Change-Making Cohort

May 13, 2022

BOG 2022: Nine Winners Receive Reimagined Dan David Prize

May 12, 2022

This Week: TAU Welcomes Governors to Annual Meeting

May 10, 2022

On Israel’s Independence Day, TAU Celebrates Breakthroughs

May 3, 2022

New Collaborations between TAU and Leading Turkish Universities

April 29, 2022

TAU Launches Manufacturing Research Center in India

April 13, 2022

Strengthening Local Leadership in Israel

April 5, 2022

First Israeli Research Book Published in Abu Dhabi

April 3, 2022

TAU Welcomes Ukrainian Emergency Fellowship Students

March 31, 2022

Prof. Ehud Gazit – First Israeli to Receive Prestigious International Recognition in Chemistry

March 31, 2022

From War in Ukraine to Studies at TAU

March 20, 2022

TAU Special Briefing: Crisis in Ukraine

March 8, 2022

TAU graduates are making waves in Israel and beyond

March 8, 2022

Investment in Social Funds Leads to a Reduction in Charitable Donations

March 7, 2022

TAU Launches Emergency Fellowship Fund for Ukrainian Graduate Students

March 3, 2022

The New Dan David Prize Announces Inaugural Cohort of Winners

March 2, 2022

Prof. Oded Lipschits Awarded the 2022 EMET Prize in Archaeology

February 21, 2022

And Let There Be Light

February 6, 2022

More than 16,000 participants on TAU’s Open Day 2022

February 2, 2022

The Magnificent TAU Trees

January 16, 2022

For the 1st time at an Israeli university: Air and Space Power Center

January 4, 2022

First Anniversary of Morocco-USA-Israel Agreement

December 28, 2021

TAU Students Racing Towards a Greener Campus

December 21, 2021

TAU and Goethe University Establish Joint Center for Interfaith Studies

December 19, 2021

TAU Ventures Raises $50M to Boost Israeli Startups

December 12, 2021

Coexistence – Israel’s Inevitable Faith

December 6, 2021

Tel Aviv University and Rutgers University Strengthen Ties

November 29, 2021

TAU’s Tisch Film School Among Global Best

November 29, 2021

Pursuing the Unknown

Copyright ©  Tel Aviv University Trust. All rights reserved.
Registered charity number 314179.