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Israel’s Cybersecurity Success Highlighted at Colorado Conference


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Israeli cybersecurity expert Menny Barzilay believes Colorado wants to duplicate Israel's success in cybersecurity. Photo: DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival.

Israeli cybersecurity expert Menny Barzilay believes Colorado wants to duplicate Israel’s success in cybersecurity. Photo: DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival.

Israel’s success in the realm of cybersecurity has the whole world paying attention — especially in Colorado — according to an Israeli businessman in the field, the Denver Post reported.

“No one was so excited to do things more than the people here in Colorado,” said Menny Barzilay, CEO of the Malta-based company FortyTwo, which specializes in cyber security solutions, at the University of Denver’s first Cybersecurity Summit.

Barzilay was among the CEOS and CSOs from preeminent Israeli cybersecurity companies invited to speak Tuesday at the conference, which also featured Israeli government, military and academic participants.

Colorado isn’t the only place that wants to duplicate their success, Barzilay said. As concern over cybersecurity grows, London and India are also among those around the world looking to Israel to find answers to cybersecurity concerns.

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This is likely the result of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2011 launch of a “Cyber Initiative,” increasing spending within the cyber technology community by $26.6 million – with the goal of making Israel a global leader.

Israeli speakers told the conference that the Jewish state has more research and development investment per capita than nearly all other nations. They also explained that Israel attracts 10 percent of the world’s venture capital for cybersecurity startups, and is number two among the foreign countries that have the most firms listed on Nasdaq.

“We spend more than any other country on R&D, and this is because this is our only resource, the human brain,” said Ram Levi, CEO of Konfidas Digital, a cyber security consulting firm.

Levi said Israel has 430 cyber companies and benefits from government support. That — along with the country’s requirement that all men and women serve in the military — means many leave the army with skills applicable to the cybersecurity industry.

“A lot of people’s side project is building this country,” said Omri Baumer, chief technology officer at Israel’s Start-Up Nation Central. “That creates a lot of collaboration because everyone is working on the same project, which is the state of Israel.”

J.B. Holson, DU’s Dean of the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science added that Israel “really is the cyber superpower of the world.”

“It’s why we wanted to bring them over here,” Holston said. “A lot of things they’re talking about, they are the kinds of things we’re trying to do at scale. We reinforce those messages. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, it can work.’ Israel has 8 million people. We’re six. Israel is the size of the Front Range geographically. There are a lot of analogies that are really helpful for us.”

While Colorado hopes to copy the model Israel uses to stay a cybersecurity powerhouse, Scott Chasin, CEO of ProtectWise, a cybersecurity company in the Denver region, said there is one major difference between how companies in the US and Israel operate.

“A lot of cybersecurity companies (in Israel) are built for acquisition. We’re focused on long-term survival,” said Chasin, whose firm built a DVR-like device to record cyber-activity. “We have a lot of the same components, like the military focus, and we have fairly easy access to innovation in Silicon Valley. Pulling those resources in, we have a similar model, but we have a key focus on much longer-term innovation.”

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