On Mondays we Form Bilateral Cybersecurity Groups

There are certain things in a friendship that you can never forget, like the first time two lifelong best friends first meet. Abbi and Ilana, Michael and Dwight, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. You know, normal best friends with normal interactions, like when Air Force One landed in Israel and Trump greeted Bibi, “Hello, my friend,” to which Bibi replied “Welcome, my good friend” Because that’s normal. As awkward as Trump was all over Bibi’s country (see the cutesy yearbook note he left at Yad Vashem for reference), apparently he didn’t make it friendship-ruining weird. Where some of us pettier world leaders might’ve kicked him out of our lunch table, it looks like Trump’s still there and paying for Bibi’s chocolate milk.

Ignoring the dystopic betchy high school I’ve forever burned into your minds, this friendship is not all bad. In fact, we found out at Cyber Week that we’re getting a bilateral cybersecurity group out of it. Which is, by most accounts, almost as good as free chocolate milk. The group, led by White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce, will work to defend critical infrastructure and track down malicious actors. Trump’s assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism announced at Cyber Week that the group would meet for the first time this week to talk “critical infrastructure, advanced R&D, international cooperation and workforce.” And like, has Modi even been asked to prom yet?

The aim of this group has described as using an Iron Dome approach to cyber, which is precisely the defense strategy we need for the decades to come. It’s tempting to think cyberattacks are all 4Chan trolls and Jennifer Lawrence’s nudes, but it’s a whole lot more than that and lives are on the line when an attack goes as planned. Often many, many more lives than a conventional terrorist attack. In general, it would be much appreciated if Trump and Bibi could quit the circle jerk, but as far as cyber’s concerned, let’s hope this group takes us from talking loosely about establishing a set of norms to actually building an internationally cooperative infrastructure for defending against cyberattack. Because terrorists are like, so not fetch.

Like Birthright for World Leaders

First:

One trend I’ve been noticing lately in Israeli tech news is an influx of new partnerships/mentorships/wehavenothingtodotodayletsgotoisraelandmakeitaboutsomethingships from all around the world. Among others, there seems to be new potential in Israel’s relationships with China, India, Australia, and Houston, Texas—which, let’s be honest, is basically it’s own country. These partnerships are so important, not only to the countries that can learn from how Israel’s built its tech industry from the sand up, but also for Israel. The other day, ex-Intel head Mooly Eden warned us about the threat that success can pose to Israel’s competitive edge in the tech field. Though Israel might’ve been the first startup nation, the rest of the world seems to be catching up (and perhaps with some help from the Eretz). These emerging global partnerships will be essential to stop any Israeli self-congratulatory slide into complacency.

 

And in unrelated news…

Self-proclaimed cybersecurity powerhouse Team8 is teaming up with Intel to form several companies that will compete in cyber. According to Fortune, Israel’s 450 cyber startups receive 20% of the world’s investment in the field. In addition to Team8, Intel is also pairing up with Illusive, which uses deception technologies to fight advanced persistent threats to corporate networks. Sababa!

GeoQuant Seeks to Make Sense (and Shekels) of our Insane Political Situation

Reality TV star and all-around embarrassment to the human race Donald Trump is president of the United States, it seems the Russian government may have helped make it so, and this poor American kid was just evacuated from a North Korean jail in a coma after being sentenced to 15 years hard labor for taking down a poster. It’s unclear when this episode of Black Mirror that we’re evidently living in will be over, so we might as well make the most of it. That’s exactly what Israeli startup GeoQuant seeks to do. The company, which just raised $4 million in seed funding from Aleph, measures political risk in real-time, giving investors proprietary insight into how relatively unpredictable political situations around the world may affect markets.

Aleph VC’s Michael Eisenberg will join the board at GeoQuant. As Eisenberg explained to The Times of Israel, “Globalization of business and foreign direct investment is increasing while at the same time the world is becoming less stable. It is critical that businesses understand these risks and opportunities and prepare for them with real data, not punditry.”

GeoQuant’s software generates daily country scores and other indexes by scraping vast amounts of data, news, and content shared via social media content, which is combined with insight from leading political scientists and regional experts. Its Political Risk Scores and data streams for G20 countries have already been integrated into the Bloomberg terminal, and with this new funding from Aleph, you can expect to see their software popping up elsewhere as their backend grows.

As the world bursts into flames in the great garbage fire that is our crazy global political situation, the least you can do is make a little money out of it.

For Science!

I’d like to think of myself as a somewhat intelligent person– bold assumption I know. Say the word quantum though, and you’ve officially lost me. I’ve tried, I really have, to wrap my head around these things. No joke I went through a phase in high school when I checked out every book on the Higgs Boson from the library and read obsessively about it online. Sure, that may have had more to do with the fact that I was in love with my physics teacher than any genuine scientific interest, but admittedly, I found this was pretty cool stuff. Now I actually have no idea if this is tied to quantum computing (as my foray into the physical sciences was clearly short-lived), but the recent good news from Hebrew U’s Quantum Information Science Center reminded me of it, so LET ME LIVE!

Yesterday, the QISC (if this acronym’s not a thing, now it is) secured 7.5 million NIS from the Ministry of Defense to develop a brand new quantum communications technology. According to Globes, “The goal of this project is to develop homegrown Israeli expertise and technology for a national quantum communications system that will prevent eavesdropping, protect data privacy and secure national infrastructure.” Basically, they’re gonna science the shit out of anyone who tries to spy on Israel. Rather than using today’s encryption methods for protecting communications data, quantum communications systems rely on quantum bits and the laws of physics, ensuring greater privacy and security for the data being transferred. What exactly is a quantum bit? No clue, but let me Google that for you.

Bottom line: money, for science, for cybersecurity, for Israel. For science.

New Investment in “Digital Israel” Initiative

This morning, the Ministry of Social Equality announced a 1.3 billion NIS investment in “Digital Israel”, a program aimed at:

  1. Reducing wealth disparities by decreasing living costs and promoting healthcare and welfare in more rural areas.
  2. Promote digital industry and businesses while building a stronger employment infrastructure for the industry.
  3. Increase the usability of government ministries and local governments, making them more accessible to citizens.

Because as it currently stands, if there’s one thing Israeli government bureaucracy is not, it’s user friendly. Although still early in the development phase, you can get a slightly more specific sense for what the initiative entails here. To me, this seems like a pretty smart investment. Increasingly, digital literacy is the key to economic mobility, so making education and government services a priority for the working class is a huge growth opportunity. Because this initiative spans everything from healthcare to user experience for government sites, it seems like they still need to take some time to define their own goals before they can start affecting change. That being said, this early stage investment is a great start.

Protocols of the Techies of Zion

The best class I took at Tel Aviv University was called Cybersecurity Law and Policy: Global and Israeli Perspectives. My professor was Deborah Housen-Couriel, who is a super smart lawyer, cybersecurity consultant, researcher, etc. and major contributor to NATO’s The Tallinn Manual 2.0 aka the working Bible on all things cyber. Deborah was responsible for (among other things) all of Israel’s part in Tallinn. Anyway, somewhere between doing all this and running her own cyber regulation consulting firm she manages to find the time to teach a class at Tel Aviv University that I was lucky enough to take. She, and apparently anyone else who’s anyone, from Bibi to well… a lot of other people, will be speaking at Tel Aviv University’s Cyber Week later this month. If I were in the country June 25th-29th I would be there, so can someone go for me and take good notes? I promise I’ll let you copy my homework next time.

Seriously! Do you really want to miss out on this clearly evil scheme for complete global tech domination?!

 

 

A nation by any other name would smell as lucrative

Startup Nation has grown into Tech Nation, Intel Israel R&D chief says

At Tel Aviv’s Technovation Conference Tuesday, Ran Senderovitz suggested a language tweak for reshaping how the world sees Israel’s role in tech. “We must define Israel not as Startup Nation but as Tech Nation. To define Israel as a Startup Nation is like saying we are Peter Pan — we are this kid that never grows up; we are eternally young. The fact that multinational companies invest in Israel is proof that we can not only create technologies but also grow them in the longer term.”

Not a bad idea– after all, what happens to someone who specializes in start-ups once the start-up is no longer a start-up? Welp, maybe a layoff. Or what about the start-up co-founder who sells their share 40 years too early and loses out on tens of billions of dollars? No one wants to be that guy.

Israel is undeniably young in every sense of the world, which we’ve seen has been a huge advantage in innovation, entrepreneurship and tech. Organizations are lean, people work hard, play hard, and bright new ideas flow like milk and honey. How then, will the tech workforce have to adapt and grow in the decades to come now that the first few rounds of Israeli startups clearly have global staying power? If there’s one thing Israelis generally have, it’s the clear conviction that their ideas are right. As a rule. Meaning tech entrepreneurs should hold on to their billion dollar ideas, not sell to soon, and work on developing a culture where start-ups want to stay in Israel as they grow into established tech companies. As Senderovitz suggests, maybe this starts with a language change.

 

$100 Million Baby

Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity company Hexadite sold to Microsoft for $100 million today, June 8th. To date, Hexadite had raised $10.5M. A leader in the cybersecurity space, the company’s Automated Incident Response Solution set it apart, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to decrease response time on smaller-scale penetrations. According to the good people of Hexadite, they’re working to “optimize overtaxed security resources for increased productivity, reduced costs and stronger overall security.” TechCrunch’s take on the acquisition? “The idea is to expand Microsoft’s existing security portfolio with an infusion of new technology based around new innovations in areas like AI and machine learning.” You know, so the real security experts will have time for more important things like cruising Dizengoff Center on their segways.

When Americans Try Teaching Israelis About Bootcamp

500 Startups launches a short marketing ramp-up bootcamp for startups in Israel

TLDR; 9 Israeli B2B startups are part of a bootcamp from American venture fund and seed incubator 500 Startups (https://500.co/). The startups get a 4-week training program on marketing and growth in exchange for 1% of the company for every $25k attributed to the new marketing tactics. Because if there’s one thing Jews love, it’s summer camp.