In the past weeks, U.S. President Barack Obama has been making the rounds in the U.S. Jewish community in an attempt to defend the Iran nuclear deal, and to convince American Jews that his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not as bad as it seems.
Last Thursday, Obama gave a live webcast address to the American Jewish community, while at the same time dispatching a top Treasury Department official to Israel for meetings with Israeli leaders regarding the Iran nuclear deal. Obama also gave his first one-on-one interview to a Jewish news outlet since he took office in 2008—conducted with the Forward on Friday—in which he said with regard to Israel that "there are always going to be arguments within families and among friends. And Israel isn’t just an ally, it’s not just a friend— it’s family."
In the interview, Obama also stressed that the U.S. and Israel should increase their security cooperation. And in fact, as a new article in Fortune relays, there is one area of security cooperation between the two countries that is growing steadily stronger both on a private and governmental level: cyber-security.
“The challenging environment Israel faces in the Middle East has reflections also on the cyber world," explained Dudu Mimran, CTO of the Cyber Security Research Center at Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, Israel.
In a country where intelligence from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) can easily translate to cyber-security ventures in the commercial sector, a number of information security ventures have evolved in Israel, including private companies and research collaborations. A number of technological companies around the world, such as the U.S.-based Microsoft for example, have not only taken note but have begun to see Israel as a "cyber powerhouse with the right talent,” Mimran said.
For instance, Microsoft recently announced its intention to purchase Israeli cloud security firm Adallom, which was founded by former IDF members, for $320 million.
Techcrunch has recently taken the time to map out 150 of Israel's major cyber-security start-ups, available at www.israelcybermap.com. The map is intended for chief information security officers (CISO), investors, and other corporate leaders interested in exploring opportunities of collaboration in Israel.
“You could argue that this combination of factors—historical, political, societal and cultural—have all combined to make Israel a natural epicenter of security innovation. It is certainly timely, especially considering the growing power and threat of global cyber attacks," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
Meanwhile, on the governmental end, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in July visited Israel, where he signed a joint statement with the Head of the Israel National Cyber Bureau Dr. Eviatar Matania, reaffirming the two countries' joint commitment to "promote cooperation and information sharing on cyber-security and cyber research and development," a press release stated.
Earlier in March, the Cyber Security Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intention to expand collaboration with the Israel National Cyber Bureau (NCB), Israeli cyber companies, and other local start-up firms at the opening session of CyberTech 2015. DHS Cyber Security Director Douglas Maughan also ranked Israel among the top 10 partner nations for such cooperation.
“Security is a subject that can be taught theoretically, but nothing is a substitute for a real hands-on experience and we’ve got lots of it," Mimran said.