Israel has become known as the "startup nation" for its booming high-tech industry, which originated with the need to develop military technologies. And if Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin has his way, Israel will also be known as the "cyber-security" nation.
Attending a major global conference on cyber-security in Seoul, South Korea, Elkin said that "due to the security threat, we have a record number of young people who enter the fields of technology and cyber defense every year. Upon graduating from the military, many of these young minds join our flourishing high-tech sector."
The two-day Seoul Conference on Cyberspace began Thursday and gathered more than 1,000 representatives from some 90 countries and international and regional organizations. According to South Korea's Foreign Ministry, the forum will deal with international security, cyber crime and the Internet economy and social benefits of cyberspace.
Several South Korean government and media websites were crippled earlier this year in cyber attacks. A few months earlier, hackers brought down thousands of computers in South Korean banks and television stations.
"Israel is a global power in the realm of cyber defense," Elkin told the assembled crowd. "Due to the constants threats, Israel uniquely serves the global community as a live lab for new technologies. We have turned the threat of cyber attacks into an opportunity for knowledge and growth."
According to the Global Cyber Defense Report by McAfee and Security & Defense Agenda, unveiled in February, Israel ties with Finland and Sweden against potential hacking attacks.
Isaac Ben-Israel, a senior security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was quoted in the report as saying that Israel sees 1,000 cyber attacks per minute.
Elkin mentioned several government initiatives, including the Israel National Cyber Bureau, established by Netanyahu in January 2012.
Elkin likened the famous Israeli ability to improvise to playing speed chess, saying the "Israeli expertise in the speed-chess mentality is a unique advantage in the field of cyber. Upon graduating from the military, many of these young minds enrich the technology field and helping to establish startups which attract the interest of multinationals such as GE, IBM, Deutsche Telekom and Citibank, as well as investors from China, Russia and many other countries."
Elkin also mentioned the Israel Defense Forces' plans to move many of its operations, including its cyber operations, to a large military base near Beersheba.
"I invite you to come to Beersheba, to experience, to invest, and to take part in the creation of one of the world's most advanced cyber defense hubs," Elkin said.