Securing deals in Paris

The Paris IT Security Forum exposes the French top brass to Israel's latest offerings.

Daniel Biran, head of N-Trance Global Tech, brought a "smart" key to the forum that features a biometric fingerprint pin code, and a plug-in phone system that operates as a totally security-proof alternative to Skype. N-Trance does both hardware and software, unusual for a start-up.

Ron Porat and Ofer Maor from Hacktics demonstrated how to break into bank websites and steal millions from personal accounts, and were offering their applications security and software and infrastructure testing to prevent such nightmare scenarios, for scrutiny by French companies.

Gilad Parann-Nissany was wearing two hats: as head of Porticor, he can provide full security to French companies seeking to make use of cloud computing networks, and as a major investor in Ghost Technology, headed by Zvi Schreiber, he participates in designing software for web operating systems. Of course, Ghost has made headlines in Israel and elsewhere, because half his software engineers are Palestinians working across the Green Line in Ramallah, in what he calls an equitable eye-to-eye situation.

People here have been very interested in Ghost and the Palestinian aspect of the story, from a non-technical point of view, says Parann-Nissany over a cozy buffet lunch and glass of Recanati cabernet wine at the midday break.

The scene was the 9th annual IT security forum in Paris hosted by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and the France-Israel Chamber of Commerce. As always, the forum was organized by Dominique Bourra, CEO of NanoJV in Paris, and by the MIW consortium in Ramat Gan, headed by David Hava.

Some 20 IT security start-ups came from Israel, listened to speakers and round tables in the morning, and met 1-2-1 with representatives from major French groups, eager to see start-of-the-art IT security technology from the Herzliya Corridor, Haifa and from Jerusalem.

Aki Eldar from Secure Islands Technologies was explaining how his software products protect sensitive information between the end user and what he calls the data nexus point, the transformation point between unstructured and structured data. I know of Israeli companies doing great business here in France, because they have succeeded in bridging the cultural gaps, the tarbut, he says, using the Hebrew word.. You can have the best business solutions in the world, but if you dont bridge the tarbut, it wont happen.

We have no contracts from last years forum but we have maintained relations and they will mature, says Ofer Maor from Hacktics. This forum allows us to see people one-to-one from big French companies, and we would not have that access without it. If only for that access, this is very important for us.

Maor was doing an unusual presentation, performing an SQL injection operation on his computer, hacking into a bank data base and gain access to personal accounts to steal millions. He changes the code and enters a 1+1 =2 code, that he says works because it is true. More than 50% of credit card fraud is done by serial injection, along with cross-site scripting, he adds.

According toVisa and Master Card figures, 2007-8 saw a 100% increase in such attacks, of which there are thousands every year. One attack by Chinese hackers hit millions of sites simultaneously. .

The morning program featured speeches and round-tables, including an appearance by Israeli ambassador Daniel Shek, who, truth be told, is more of a culture maven than an IT specialist, but who remains incurably optimistic about bettering French-Israeli business relations.

The man with all the best-researched graphs and most detailed information on who is doing business with whom and why, or in some cases, why not, is Daniel Rouach, Professor at the European School of Management in Paris and the founder of the IsraelValley website, the undisputed top source of business information in Israel in French.

His presentation is crystal clear and to the point, though his on-screen graphs remain a mystery, at least for one Anglophone present. What has changed overall in Franco-Israeli business relations since last year? Nothing, he replies, with a smile. If France is still so far behind Germany and Great Britain in terms of business done with Israel, its because the big French groups are dragging their feet. Some groups based in Israel, such as Renault, Alcatel and LOreal, have a strong presence there. Others are doing very little or nothing at all.

What about from Israel to France? There is a real lack of experts in Israel to advise companies on working with France, says Rouach. It is more difficult than working with Anglophone countries on several levels, culture being one of them. But the big French groups lead the European market in several fields, so the opportunities are here. I cannot state that strongly enough.

Personalities in the round tables appeared to prove his point. They included Patrick Langrand, the chief information security officer, or CISO, of La Poste, with no fewer than 300,000 employees worldwide, including French overseas departments. To compare, the largest Israeli company, Israel Aerospace Industries, IAI, has 15,000 employees.

As a French military officer, Langrand is also the chairman of a very exclusive national defense intelligence agency. During the round table discussion, he pointed out that this is a unique opportunity for French companies to see what the Israeli start-ups have to offer.

Contact in the military field is a steady, if somewhat discrete aspect of the forum. Nicolas Bay, a marketing director at Thales, a huge French military contractor, was seeing a number of start-up representatives. Im very interested in the latest developments, he noted, and frankly, this link between entrepreneurial activity and state of the art technology is not something we see often in France. I believe this is an Israeli specialty, and I want to see what theyve got.

Forum organizer Dominique Bourra describes the creating of a Franco-Israeli high-tech business eco-system. Based on previous years, there have been contracts, partnerships and pilots developed, he says. What we are doing here is a real insider gathering, not for the general public. Some of the military people here this year from France are part of a very exclusive club. That is the message here. This kind of forum does not happen elsewhere in France.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 24, 2009

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

 
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