NZ and Australian businesses send cyber delegation to Israel



One of the most important parts of heading away to visit and learn from another country is that you tend to learn more about your own country in doing so.


Israel is impressive in many ways: its cyber security firms lead the world, and are some of the largest in the world (such as Check Point). Behind those success stories lies a robust start-up ecosystem which is closely tied into Government. Seeing the cyber security research facility created in the Negev Desert at Beersheva (and incidentally the important ANZAC WW1 connection to that place), was truly impressive.


Visiting Israel was also heartening from a NZ point of view. NZ produces its own very high-quality cyber security services and products, and what we saw in Israel confirmed that the quality of our products is up with the best in the world.


What Israel does exceptionally well is marketing its cyber security products, producing new and innovative start-ups, and selling offshore – what the locals call “chutzpah”. Israeli cyber security firms use their domestic market as an incubator for testing new ideas but their focus is to sell abroad. This outward focus has helped propel Israel to become the second largest cyber security exporter in the world, behind only the US.


We also saw some limits to how cyber security is currently sold by many firms. The most impressive companies we saw focused on solutions, and the opportunities that security creates for businesses rather than focusing on the fear and consequences of being hacked. But we also saw how the strength of their industry was fuelled by a large and incredibly talented stream of cyber specialists being trained in Israel’s elite cyber unit – Unit 8200.  


Rather than selling through fear, if we switch our mindset to focus on selling trust and integrity, NZ is starting from a great position. We can use our status as the country with the world’s lowest corruption levels and high levels of social capital to sell ourselves as a “trust superpower”. Cyber security is ultimately about trust and accountability. We should be incredibly proud of NZ’s cyber security firms, and we’re eager to see the sector continue to grow, for three reasons:


  1. We know that future prosperity depends on moving up the value chain. Cyber security services and products are high-value, and it is a growing international market estimated at US$126 billion today, growing to US$251 billion over the next decade.
  2. Delivering high-quality, trusted cyber security services at home and abroad reinforces NZ’s reputation as a high-trust, reliable, and straight-dealing environment to do business in.
  3. Developing NZ’s own cyber industry comes with some important national security benefits. Having a sovereign national capability allows NZ to better protect our most important personal and wealth-creating information across all sectors.


For my reflections on a trip to Israel, you can see that we dwelt a lot on what we could learn and apply in NZ!




Author: Isaac Holliss, National Cyber Policy Office