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Cybersecurity conference targets importance of collaboration

Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch hopes to one day introduce self-driving vehicles to the city as public transportation. Like all technologies though, this advancement carries the risk of a cyberattack that, the mayor warned, requires robust, innovative cybersecurity — and partnering with Israel.  

“While we can’t stop progress, we must be aware that every task you ask computers to help us with, it makes us more vulnerable for cyberattacks,” he said. “The good news is we have Israel, and they are vigilant and help make it possible to stay one or more steps ahead of hackers.”  

Mirisch was just one of the distinguished speakers at CyberTech Beverly Hills addressing the need for cybersecurity and the importance of collaboration in solving the field’s ever-increasing challenges. The event took place June 30 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. 

Speakers lectured to an audience of up to 520 people during a conference that brought together businessmen, government officials and academics from Israel and the United States to meet, learn from each other and, ideally, form partnerships.  

“The goal of the event has a few dimensions to it,” Gadi Tirosh, managing partner of Jerusalem Venture Partners and chairman of CyberArk, told the Journal. “There is a local cyber ecosystem in Los Angeles, and it is very important for our Israeli companies to establish that network with the local players in cybersecurity. There is also a strong base of investors in this area interested in cybersecurity investments.”

Tirosh, who held a session on investing alongside Blumberg Capital founder David Blumberg, was one of 35 speakers at the conference. Others included a variety of CEOs and entrepreneurs as well as Republican Congressman Ed Royce, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles David Siegel, and president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) Rivka Carmi.   

“We are considered as a leading university in Israel that deals with cyber technology,” Carmi said. “Beersheba has been declared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the hub of cyber in Israel, and the engine behind that was the university,” which is located in the southern desert city.

Professor Yuval Elovici, director of BGU’s Cyber Security Research Center, told the Journal BGU became familiarized with cyber technology before most universities because of an agreement with T-Mobile. He added that the academic world plays an important role in the field, solving problems related to cyberattacks at least two years faster than the private sector. He told the Journal before his lecture that BGU tends to focus even more than other institutions on practical applications of its work.

“Many other universities are doing more theoretical research, which is very important,” he said. “But the applied cybersecurity research can be transferred much faster to the market than theoretical research.”

Founder of Firmitas Cyber Solutions Ltd., Rami Efrati, introduced each of the conference’s speakers. (He started by noting that Bruce Willis was not among them — he had unsuccessfully tried to recruit the “Die Hard” actor to talk about cyber technology in entertainment.) 

“The main mission is to create awareness for people here that they have excelling partners in Israeli companies,” Efrati said. 

The first session was led by Rick Howard, chief security officer of Palo Alto Networks, who discussed his role in Cyber Threat Alliance, a cohort of cybersecurity solution providers. Its goal is to share threat intelligence to gain more information about malicious hackers. He contrasted this approach to earlier decades, when companies would never share threat information with each other. 

“Four CEOs got together and said, ‘Rather than compete on intelligence, let’s all gather the same intelligence and compete on product,’ ” Howard told the audience. 

Right before lunch, Royce delivered a 15-minute speech that discussed Israeli-American partnerships with regard to technology and values. 

“Our future growth rests and depends on cybersecurity,” he said. “What’s also important is the theme of why we are doing this together and why the relationship between the United States and the government of Israel and [between] our private sectors in cyberspace is so strong. I can tell you, the relationship between Palo Alto and Tel Aviv is the closest relationship one can envision in terms of entrepreneurship.” 

The congressman continued with the notion that both countries face constant cyber threats from adversary countries such as Iran and North Korea.  

“As two of the most entrepreneurial, innovative and resilient countries on the planet, it is fitting that the U.S. and Israel lead the world on cybersecurity,” he said. 

“We invest more on cybersecurity, we produce better cybersecurity tools between us, and we have the most innovative cybersecurity experts that exist in the free world.”

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