Cybersecurity projects next on Israel-India agenda

An Indian student in Tel Aviv is behind a new wave of cooperation between Israeli and Indian enterprises

Vishal Dharmadhikari (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Vishal Dharmadhikari (Photo credit: Courtesy)

To the already robust cooperation between Israel and India, add the field of cybersecurity, with Israeli companies being recruited to protect India’s networks, databases, and enterprise computer systems. Cooperation in this area is new, and it’s the result of hard work by Vishal Dharmadhikari, a student at Tel Aviv University who is a member of a program called the Israel-Asia Fellowship, providing Asian students who are enrolled in degree programs in Israel and show potential to be leaders in their fields in the future  with an 8-month leadership program, helping them build high-level professional partnerships with Israel in their chosen fields.

“Israel has a lot of sophisticated technology, especially in cybersecurity, that India needs,” Dharmadhikari told The Times of Israel. “India has endless markets for this. Both sides would benefit significantly if they cooperated in this field.”

To enhance that cooperation, Dharmadhikari organized a cybersecurity conference at Tel Aviv University. Held in the framework of the last month’s International Cybersecurity Conference of Tel Aviv University’s Yuval Ne’eman Workshop, Dharmadhikari’s event, called India-Israel Cybersecurity Connect, featured speakers from Israeli and Indian tech companies, as well as diplomats and cybersecurity experts

Like Israel, India is surrounded by hostile countries, with individuals, groups, and perhaps even governments managing ongoing cyberattacks against networks throughout the country. Cybercrime is also a major problem, with many online businesses lacking the sophisticated software needed to protect their systems. Israel also faces those problems, but has done an excellent job of keeping its systems safe. So, it makes sense for India to take advantage of Israeli cybersecurity technology.

“Pakistan, of course, is a country from where many of the attacks on India originate,” said Dharmadhikari. “But China is also a major source. Both these and other countries send worms and Trojans into our systems to steal data, and launch DDOS (denial of service) attacks with the purpose of disrupting our services. Israel recently successfully fought off a major DDOS attack by Anonymous, and we want to be able to do that as well.”

Dharmadhikari sees Israeli cybersecurity companies as a source for companies in India engaged in cybersecurity work to draw from. A good example is the joint arrangement between Israel’s Sentropi, a developer of security solutions, and E-Core Techno, a company in India that markets Sentropi’s technologies in dozens of verticals in the Indian market. “Sentropi has the technology and E-Core uses it to develop solutions specifically for the Indian market. My objective is to get more companies to work together in this manner,” said Dharmadhikari.

Dharmadhikari isn’t sure why such cooperating hasn’t been promoted before. “Frankly it’s a bit surprising that the two governments have not developed an official program to encourage cybersecurity cooperation, considering how much other cooperation there is between India and Israel.”

But maybe it’s for the best that the governments have left the cybersecurity arena to private companies. “There is only so much governments can do, and so far much of the work being done by Israel in India is a result of government cooperation,” said Dharmadhikari. “This needs to shift to the private sector, and cybersecurity cooperation is a good place to start.”

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