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All things Israel and all things Maryland: A tie-in with real purpose

Israel is at the cutting edge of cyber security and it should be, 'cause it gets lots of practice
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with President of Ben Gurion University Prof. Rivka Karmi (R), Vice President of IBM, Steve Mills (2-R), and Mayor of Beersheva, Rubik Danilovich (L), at Cybertech 2014. (Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with President of Ben Gurion University Prof. Rivka Karmi (R), Vice President of IBM, Steve Mills (2-R), and Mayor of Beersheva, Rubik Danilovich (L), at Cybertech 2014. (Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash 90)

Israel is the world capital in cyber security.

Under the leadership of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland is focused on becoming the epicenter of cyber technology in the U.S.

Maryland is located outside the U.S. capital of Washington D.C. It houses the National Security Agency as well as other agencies related to U.S. security.

It also houses at least two high tech corridors — one in Howard County and the other in Montgomery County. Both border Washington, D.C.

O’Malley has put a stake in the ground and appointed a cyber security director, Jeffrey Wells, to oversee these cyber initiatives.

And wanting to be sure he was on the cutting edge of knowledge and innovation, Mr. Wells attended Israel’s recent cyber technology conference in Tel Aviv last week.

In a January 31 article by Maayan Jaffee,, “Southern Israel slated to be ‘Silicon Wadi,’ cyber-security hub”, Mr. Wells said the “collaboration and foresight that O’Malley had to create a strong and positive relationship with Israel and Israeli companies” would serve Maryland well. He said Maryland is presently focused on identifying traditionally underrepresented populations to engage in the cyber arena.

Cyber security is a hot area. Israel has declared itself the “world capital”. It has put a stake in the ground. Companies from around the world are flocking to Israel to learn about the opportunities which exist — both from start-ups and large companies in Israel — as well as what opportunities exist in Israel.

Netanyahu is quoted as saying, “Be’er Sheva will not only be the cyber capital of Israel, but one of the most important places in the cyber security field.”

Ms. Jaffee writes, the groundwork for the project was laid over the past decade, according to Prof. Dan Blumberg, head of the homeland security institute at BGU. He said this southern success story begins in 2004.

“Back then, Deutsche Telekom … was looking at investing in securing data that would be transferred over cellular phones in the future. That brought them several placements; one of them was Israel,” Blumberg told “[The company] ended up investing in and opening up a research center at BGU that would focus on data security, which led to an agreement in 2006 where ‘T-Labs’ [Telekom Innovation Laboratories] were opened at BGU.”

Those labs led to a new group of BGU researchers focused on cyber security and then to the first-of-its-kind Master’s Program in Cyberspace Security. In the past few years, BGU saw the establishment of the first stages of the ATP, a joint venture between the university, the Be’er Sheva municipality, and private entrepreneurs. Simultaneously, the Israeli government made the decision to move most of the IT units of the IDF to the south.

Then, two years ago, Israel established a national cyber bureau to coordinate defense against attacks on the country’s infrastructures and networks, and to boost Israel’s economy by building up its cyber defense industry. In the last few years, the number of Israeli cyber defense companies has ballooned from a few dozen to more than 200, accounting for five to 10 percent of the global cyber security industry. Israel faces roughly 100,000 cyber attacks per day, and during wartime that number jumps to one million, Israel National News reported last summer.

“We are in a very good position,” Blumberg told, noting that the expansion of the ATP and the new investments in what will be a center of excellence in cyber security will generate jobs in the south and keep graduating students in the area.

“In LA you have Silicon Valley. In Berlin, Silicon Allee. In Be’er Sheva, you will have Silicon Wadi,” said Blumberg.

And Maryland plans to be in the epicenter of the wadi. Maryland Israel Development Center will be involved as well. MIDC is an ongoing initiative between itself, the State of Maryland and Israel companies who make their headquarters in Maryland.

Stay tuned for this interesting space unfolding. I will continue to monitor it as part of my regular blog.

Unfortunately, the reason for cyber security isn’t going away. The world is full of “smart people” whose motives are not nice.

Read Start-Up Israel to keep your finger on the pulse of Israeli high-tech and innovation!

About the Author
Jane Zweig is an independent analyst and rainmaker who loves Israel. Jane's background hails from the high tech sector, where she worked consulting with Israeli start ups, large companies, financial institutions and the government sector. Jane is currently working with Middle East analysts and Israeli fashion designers to spread their message and products to the United States and the world. She also works with The Jewish Federation of Howard County, Maryland on its soon to be launched Israel speaker series as well as co chair of the 2015 Journey to Israel sponsored by the Federation. Jane lives in the great State of Maryland, which is neither here nor there, but she is very proud of where she lives and Maryland's ties to Israel..both personally and independently.
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