Israeli President Peres's Magical Technology Tour

Photographer: Sivan Farag/Citi Israel via Bloomberg
(L-R) Neil Corney, CEO of Citi Israel, Israeli president Shimon Peres, and Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup at the Citi Innovation Lab TLV Ramat Hayal on Feb. 13, 2014.

Israeli President Shimon Peres has spent the past month promoting Israeli technology with stops at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and an online lecture at Cisco Systems that set a Guinness World Record. At an event yesterday, Peres explained why tech is so crucial to Israel's well-being.

President Peres, 90, said Israel needs its technology industry to thrive to support a desert region that "rationally" should not be able to exist. Peres waxed poetic at a Citigroup event showcasing the bank's investments in Israeli technology.

"The future is galloping like a horse, and if you don't gallop with the horse, the horse will gallop without you," Peres said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. "The past is dead, and the present hardly exists."

Israel has proved itself to be one of the most forward-looking tech industries. It has helped spawn cutting-edge tools that people around the world use everyday, including Waze's mapping app.

Peres was introduced to a different kind of technology on his tour of Citi's incubator in Tel Aviv yesterday. He praised one of the nine companies, called Forter, for its Web fraud-protection service that could be especially relevant following the high-profile hacks on U.S. retailers during the holiday-shopping season.

"Israel is a powerhouse in cyber-security," Forter CEO Michael Reitblat told Peres at the event. "But as we have seen in the past month, cyber-security isn't enough, and everything is bound to be breached time and again."

Founded by veterans of Israel's vaunted intelligence corps, Forter automatically nixes payments by credit cards it deems to be compromised. The founders know a thing or two about shady Internet payments. They also created Fraud Sciences, and sold it to PayPal in 2008 for $169 million.

"We are here to protect online merchants from the repercussions such as the Target breach and prevent the monetization of similar attacks," Reitblat said. "We can't record everything and process everything like the NSA, so we have to ask very smart questions."

Peres joked that the world has too many unnecessary answers, so Forter was probably going in the right direction.

To craft the right anti-fraud questions to ask, Forter has assembled a team of hackers, mathematicians, psychologists, linguists, intelligence officers and one philosopher.

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