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Israel Launches Consortium to Address Aviation Cyber Threats

Industry Faces Significant Consolidation Challenges

At the 5th International Conference on Homeland Security and Cyber on 14 November, the Israeli Ministry of the Economy and consortium of local companies announced an initiative to tackle cyber aviation threats. Yigal Unna, Director General of the Israel National Cyber Directorate, told reporters at the conference that the intention is to build the digital equivalent of the bulletproof cockpit door, an Israeli response to hijackings in the 1970s that was not adopted by the rest of the world until after the events of 9 September 2001.

The consortium consists of established and startup firms in the cyber domain, including Check Point Software Technologies, ClearSky, CyberArk, El Al’s Cockpit Innovation Hub, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Karamba Security, with additional companies having already expressed interest in joining. The intention is to build an organisation to offer comprehensive, end-to-end cybersecurity solutions for all aspects of the commercial aviation industry. Israel has developed a global reputation for cybersecurity capabilities, with over 400 companies active in the domain at the end of last year and accounting for over 16% of global investments, according to industry data.

Several themes ran through the-two day conference in Tel Aviv. One of the most noteworthy – and potentially most worrying – focused on the state of readiness of the industry. There is broad agreement that the cyber response community faces an urgent need to move from so-called 2nd- or 3rd-generation technologies – where they currently sit – to 5th-generation (which involves active prevention, which many industry observers to be impossible) – where their opponents already sit. One of the inevitable consequences of that move, some industry experts believe, will be consolidation of the industry, with many of the considerable number of startups that have characterised development in the last five years being absorbed into larger organisations with greater commercial and financial muscle. Whether they will have the agility and innovative skills to meet the developing challenge head-on, however, remains to be seen.

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