Israeli Military Technology Leads to Everyday Advances — All Over the World
by Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman / JNS.org
JNS.org – Did you know that the same Israeli technology used to track the virtual movements of terrorists across the Internet is also being used to protect you from fraud?
Software by BioCatch — an Israeli company — checks more than 500 bio-behavioral, cognitive and physiological parameters to create unique user profiles for visitors to banking and eCommerce sites, distinguishing between regular users and criminal users.
Ron Moritz, BioCatch’s former interim CEO, said that the company’s software tracks hand tremors, hand-eye coordination, the distinctive way an individual moves his mouse, taps his phone and types on his keyboard, and other behavioral traits, in order to create a user profile that can be continuously authenticated at every stage of an online banking session.
“The software can differentiate between a legitimate user and someone who accessed your account nefariously, by delivering a cognitive biometric profile of each legitimate user,” explained Moritz. “This is the next revolution in fraud protection. It’s brilliant, only-from-Israel stuff.”
BioCatch was one of 1,000 start-ups and other technology portfolio companies that took part at the recent OurCrowd conference in Jerusalem. The event, the largest annual investor conference showcasing the latest in mobility technology, drones, robotics, artificial intelligence and medical technology, drew 10,000 people from 90 countries — including the aforementioned start-ups, and 500 multinational firms.
Moritz said that it has long been understood that Israel’s “start-up nation” culture was built on the entrepreneurial spirit of IDF combat veterans, who were taught discipline and the need to set up systems, and then break boundaries to survive. But he said that more than ever, Israeli companies are being founded by veterans of the IDF’s 8200 military intelligence unit, who then use military principles to build scalable businesses.
“Most people outside Israel don’t see the connection between … military graduates and industry,” said Moritz. “But in the last 20 years, former soldiers in their early 20s are being given responsibility over technology, people and multi-million-dollar innovation budgets. They don’t have much formal education, but they’re being told because of the geopolitical situation that they [find themselves in].”
That’s how mPrest got started. The command and control management company enables the integration of multiple complex systems, dramatically reducing project development time, cost and risk for systems integrators and organizations worldwide.
Ulik Broida, the marketing vice president at mPrest, told JNS that the company’s founder and CEO, Natan Barak, finished his army service and immediately started leveraging what he learned to work in the defense and homeland security arenas. The technology of mPrest is at the heart of Israel’s Iron Dome short-range missile defense system.
“A missile is coming toward Israel. We have radars scattered around Israel, and we need to collect information from all the radars and analyze it,” Broida said. “We could have 20 or 30 missiles coming at the same time, but some could fall in open spaces and somewhere there are civilians. We wouldn’t want to waste our resources on a missile that will fall in an open field.”
In one second, the system can calculate thousands of pieces of data, decide if it wants to shoot down the missile — and if so, which of the Iron Dome batteries throughout Israel should be used — and then give the command to a specific missile to fire in a specific direction at a specific time.
“It’s a classic control and command app,” said Broida.
Recently, mPrest decided to leverage its technology for the utility marketplace. Broida said that utility distribution centers all over the world can use the technology to optimize power distribution. The system tracks energy usage trends and can predict changes in weather that might lead to increases or decreases in energy consumption.
In New Zealand, for instant, Vector, the country’s largest, multi-network infrastructure company — which distributes energy and communication services to more 1.2 million homes and businesses — deploys mPrest technology in its intelligent grid. Broida said that mPrest has enabled Vector to improve operational efficiencies by unifying its varied energy resources.
Broida said that it was easy for mPrest to make the transition to the civilian marketplace because “when you come from Israel and have a defense background, you immediately get respect and the attention of [customers].”
“Many companies have very nice brochures and presentations, but when your tech has been used in Israel’s defense system, you can trust it as battle tested,” Broida said. He also noted that private companies believe that Israeli military graduates know how to operate quickly and under pressure.
“You think you cannot compare between the command and control system of a tank and a utility, but it is all control and command, and this is an area we mastered,” he said.
In another case study, most of CropX’s 20 R&D engineers were members of an IDF technology unit — and are now applying their analytics acumen to the American agricultural technology industry.
CropX’s irrigation system is based on a “revolutionary spiral design,” CEO Tomer Tzach told JNS. He said that the easy installation system allows farmers to get the most of their soil.
The program,’s censors measure soil moisture and temperature, and transmit the results back to an app on the farmer’s phone. The farmer can then adapt his or her irrigation plan accordingly. The censor transmits the data via SMS to the cloud, alleviating the challenge of lack of connectivity in rural areas.
“Our system works anywhere across the globe,” said Tzach.
The censors are already being used in the mass market by commodity (corn, potatoes, alfalfa, soy) farmers — and the censors can be installed in five minutes by the farmers themselves.
“Talented guys from the army’s tech units are applying what they learned to the civilian space,” Tzach said. “We have one developer who was in an elite force, and what he did was build soul censors for Syria and Lebanon to collect data and send it back home. Now these same censors are going to Kansas and Nebraska, rather than Lebanon.”