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Israel's Cyber-Security Prowess Is Attracting Foreign Firms

Israel's Hacking Woes Could Mean Big Money
Trainees at the "Cyber Gym" center, where IT and infrastructure company employees train to defend against cyber attacks, on Oct. 30, 2013 near the Israeli city of Hadera. Photographer: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

Israel's cyber-security industry has grown from a few dozen companies to more than 200 in just the past three years amid a flood of hacks targeted at the country. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes more outsiders to invest in or collaborate with the country's cyber-defense industry, a Big Four professional-services firm, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, is stepping up to the plate.

Deloitte plans to open a cyber-security operations center in Israel and is looking to partner, acquire or license technologies developed by Israeli startups, executives for the firm said in interviews yesterday at the Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv. Deloitte has similar centers setup in Chile, Costa Rica, South Africa, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.

"Israel is one of the intelligence nodes of the world," said Luis Rodriguez Soler, the director of enterprise risk services at Deloitte in Spain. "The startups we have seen here are quite interesting, and we are already talking to them."

Cyber-crime is on the rise globally, Eugene Kaspersky, who runs Russia's largest maker of antivirus software, said in an interview in Tel Aviv. Kaspersky Lab counted about 300,000 unique malicious attacks in 2013, up from 200,000 a year earlier. The effect is amplified in Israel because it's in "a hot zone," Kaspersky said.

"It is important for us to be in Israel because there are many, many startups in cyber-security," said Victor Hernandez Gomez, Deloitte's senior manager for cyber-security business development in Spain. "Israel has a wide range of skilled people."

Netanyahu said at Cybertech this week that he will relax export licensing restrictions on cyber-related technologies. With today's hackers getting more sophisticated, the brightest digital-security minds from around the world will need to come together to stay ahead.

Israel's experience in successfully foiling thousands of cyber-attacks each day could translate into a very lucrative business, both inside and outside its borders.

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