It turns out that the question asked at this forum, are we winning the global battle against cybercrime? is not really the right one. Markus Braendle, SVP and head of cybersecurity at giant European aviation, defense and space group Airbus, commented, “The battle against cybercrime will always continue, but we have made a great deal of improvement in protecting infrastructure. What was once a field looked after only by CISOs, chief information security officers of major companies, is now a hot topic of concern for CEOs and boards across the globe."
Braendle was one of two guest speakers at last week's 12th annual France-Israel Cybersecurity Forum in Paris, organized by Dominique Bourra with the Chambre de Commerce France-Israel and the Paris Chambre de Commerce. The Forum brought together some 13 companies from Israel offering cybersecurity solutions and more than 60 French groups, most looking for cyber technology.
Braendle continued by saying that cybersecurity was all about visibility, and risk and asset management. “You have heard here that soon there will be some 50 billion connected devices in the world,” he told the crowd of several hundred cybersecurity professionals. “Well, all of them need cybersecurity, and the Israelis are very quick to develop new technologies to defend against cybercrime. I encourage you to visit Tel Aviv. The innovation environment there is amazing."
Nadav Zafrir, co-founder and CEO of Israeli cybersecurity think tank Team8 and former head of IDF signals intelligence unit 8200, got right to the point, saying, “Cybercrime costs were upwards of $500 billion in 2017. The biggest attacks are no longer only against companies, but rather against networks of networks. And if you think governments are moving fast enough to protect us, raise your hands."
Not one hand went up in the audience. Zafrir hit on a number of topics, noting there were 250 foreign companies with R&D centers in Israel. He added that to man unit 8200, the IDF picked the smartest and quickest-to-learn high school students, 1% of the total. This is well known in Israel, but the French and European CISOs present were hanging on to every word.
Braendle at Airbus found that the links many cybersecurity companies have to former 8200 members is more than special. “Their talent management with the unique geopolitical ecosystem in Israel is spectacular,” he said. "The talent management goes quickly from military to civilian, from the 8200 unit to cyber start-ups,” added Markus Keiper, another Airbus cybersecurity official. “We don’t do that in Europe."
Zafrir has a sense of humor. “There is a negative correlation between how smart Unit 8200 members are and how many years they stay in the service,” he explained. “I spent 25 years in the military, so that says something about me.
"Now at Team8, we create companies because security is also about business,” he added. Two of them, Illusive Networks and Claroty, were present. Team8 has serious funding from Nokia, heavily present at the forum. Also present were four contributing sponsors: Check Point, CyberArk, Tech Data and Orange.
So, is Team8 working with Airbus, the major competitor of Boeing? “Let’s say that Airbus is evaluating the best cybersecurity companies worldwide, and Team8 is one of them,” Braendle told Globes. He refused to go any further.
Now, what about the Israeli companies present? Did anyone have a good story to tell? Or good figures to share with the professional public? (No tourists at this forum, said founder Dominique Bourra once again with a smile.)
Yehoshua Ronen, CEO of Morphisec, noted “Customers want to be anonymous,” especially when malware attacks are involved, but he had a good, recent example of his company’s efficiency, already documented in the business press back in September.
The CCleaner tool used by Avast was compromised by hackers, who placed malicious, data-harvesting software on its installer program, updated by millions of subscribers.
"This was a supply chain attack, and we were the only company to detect the malware, using our Moving Target Defense, though Avast was not a customer,” Ronen told Globes. “We notified Avast and they stopped their update program."
He offered a non-technical explanation, saying, “The market is chasing after hackers, but they come out with new stuff all the time. With the Moving Target Defense, we change memories for customers before any attack, so the hackers have to chase us.”
Ronen noted that the US Department of Homeland Security had recommended using this type of software solution “without knowing that we do it.” With 45 employees, born out of Ben Gurion University and based in Beersheva with an office in Boston, the company is backed by Orange and distributed in France by TechData. Ronen did not say if Avast had become a customer after the CCleaner incident.
SecBI was present, with its next generation Autonomous Investigation technology to do Network Traffic Analysis, and to distinguish billions of alerts every month from noise. “It is hard for hackers to overcome system analysis,” CEO Gilad Peleg told the crowd.
Secdo, with its focus on incident response technology and endpoint visibility, is entering the French market, according to sales director Haim Gal, after success in Israel, Great Britain and the US.
To him, and many others, the shortage of cybersecurity personnel worldwide is dramatic. Figures on this do vary in the industry, but the ones he quoted show that by 2020, there will be more than two million unfilled cybersecurity jobs.
"In the US, the top cybersecurity annual salaries are now around $420,000,” he noted. “ Knowledge is definitely power.”
Other Israeli companies present included Promisec, Cyberbit, Unbound, Symantec, SentinelOne, and the Technion Cyber Security Center, plus Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) and the two Team8 companies.
Mark Silberstein from the Technion Cyber Security Center, brought up phone batteries. “There is more and more code in batteries,” he said. “They will be a sophisticated surveillance device for hackers.”
A strong call for cyber education and regulation came from Dr. James Goldberg, a distinguished Paris-based oncologist and advisor to high level medical and government boards in France and the United States, a firm believer in the broad-based public health networks of France and Europe.
"Cyber security is not taught in medical school,” he said, “but the medical profession must meet the challenge of cybercrime. Imagine the chaos that could result from infiltration of hospitals by hackers, including the compromising of hospital data, misinformation, wrong treatments with unauthorized drugs, and uncontrolled financial expenses. There must be global cybersecurity regulation for the medical field, or health care procedures will be misguided.”
He and others mentioned the WannaCry ransomware attack on May 12 of last year, which paralyzed the British National Health Service for a short time. Heart surgery was canceled for patients, and parents were stranded with newborn infants, as administrative systems failed. With no access to medical records, doctors were forced to resort to pen and paper.
And yet in spite of the high energy level at the forum and in the field, France still lags behind Britain, Germany, Belgium and even Italy in doing business with Israel, according to Henri Cukierman, President of the CCFI, the Chamber of Commerce. “The interest and desire is strong, but the figures still do not follow,” he said, with a small smile. He has been reporting the same thing for years. However, he noted that the interest for this cyber forum was double that of previous years, with 200 B2B speed meetings, versus 120 last year.
Forum head Dominique Bourra could only agree with Cukierman, noting that the original idea for the cybersecurity forum was Henri’s 12 years ago. “Somehow, we both knew back then that the cyber field would go way beyond the traditional business model,” he said.
"The figures are very hard to come by for obvious reasons,” he added, “but in the cybersecurity field, there has been a major acceleration in strategic exchanges and consultations between French and Israeli companies. The traditional markets? Not my job. There is a new business model in the cybersecurity field, a new mindset."
There is a parallel here, as he noted. “Israeli companies move very quickly in the cybersecurity field, sometimes faster than the hackers,” he said, “and cybersecurity relations with France are also in the fast lane.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 18, 2018
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