Symantec Exec: Israeli Hacking Teams are “Scary” Good

Antonio Forzieri, an executive at the computer security firm Symantec, was impressed with what he saw of Israeli hacking teams, The Times of Israel reported today.

“I’ve seen hackers at work all over Europe and the US, and Israeli hackers are younger, faster, and smarter than those in almost any other country. To me, that combination of intelligence, youth, and ability is scary. We had better make sure they use their powers for good.”

Forzieri was observing the annual Israeli Cyber Challenge competition, sponsored by Symantec, Israel Aircraft Industries, and EMC-RSA. The teams were challenged to hack into a specially constructed network designed like a bank’s computer system. While the term “hacking” often refers to individuals who break into computer networks illegally, hacking skills generally indicate an ability to get around computer security measures.

The Times explained the purpose of the challenge:

By putting participants in the hacker’s shoes, said Symantec, it enables them to understand their targets, technology and thought processes so they can ultimately better protect their organization and themselves. Symantec, which makes anti-virus and security software, works in countries around the world, where it holds similar challenges, seeking out the best white-hat hackers (those who use their skills to defend against the malicious “black hat” hackers, who are out to steal or vandalize), sometimes hiring them as well, Forzieri said.

The winning Israeli team were “three cyber-experts, ages 19, 22, and 26, who work in the security field” and “were already consulting for top Israeli firms even before they graduated high school.”

Israel’s reputation as a leader in cyber-security led to the creation of a research hub in Beersheba earlier this year, with major computer firms such as IBM and Cisco announcing increased collaboration with Israeli institutions.

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