Europe’s biggest cyber-tech firm to open in Israel

Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute says new innovation hub will help Israeli firms develop more secure IT systems

Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman (left) with Fraunhofer SIT's CEO Prof. Dr. Michael Waidner (Courtesy)
Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman (left) with Fraunhofer SIT's CEO Prof. Dr. Michael Waidner (Courtesy)

In its search for cyber-security innovation, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Security (SIT) is coming to Israel.

Fraunhofer SIT, the biggest private organization for applied scientific research in Europe, will establish a cyber-security innovation center in Israel, the company announced this week. The project will be officially launched at the end of June, when dozens of German government and business officials will converge on Tel Aviv for events marking the 50th anniversary of Israel-Germany diplomatic relations.

On June 30, Fraunhofer will hold its first Israel event, a cyber-security innovation workshop to be attended by top cyber defense, IT and government officials from Israel and Germany. At the top of the agenda is likely to be a discussion on an incident that has shocked Germany — a major cyber attack on the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. The attack began over two weeks ago, and apparently is still active, with malware sucking out sensitive information from over 20,000 computers — which, the government believes, may have to be replaced altogether.

Information technology experts in Germany have accused Russia of launching the mass attack, but other than anecdotal evidence — the source code used is similar to that of another infection last year traced to Russia — there’s no solid proof of the allegations.

Fraunhofer hopes to be able to develop ways to mitigate attacks like that with its new Israeli center, the company said. “Fraunhofer SIT’s research cooperation with Israel will address these challenges. The institute will join forces with Israel, which is widely regarded as the nation with the biggest experience and a very well trained workforce in this area, as well as one of the highest innovation capacities worldwide,” the company said.

A private organization with extensive ties with governments throughout the European Union, Fraunhofer is a one-stop shop for cyber-security testing and malware repair. The staff is often called on to perform practical tests to review a system’s security, simulate the security features by using appropriate software, and “harden” a network to ensure that it is as impenetrable to hackers as possible.

At an event this week that was attended by Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, the company said that the center’s main focus “is to bridge the innovation gap and accelerate the development of secure software, systems, and services.”

In addition, the company announced that Fraunhofer’s applied research will benefit the Israeli IT industry and will facilitate the development of security products for civil use cases.

And, as an extra benefit, the center will expose companies in Germany to Israeli technology, enabling them “to tap into the highly innovative start-up scene in Israel, while enterprises in Israel will profit from the excellent results of Fraunhofer’s applied research and its extensive experience in successful applied cyber-security research, development and training.”

The center is expected to become the leading place for cyber-security research for Israeli and German industry.

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