Israel to train Japanese ‘cyber’ warriors

IAI boot camp prepares the next generation of tech workers in Japan with the tools to fight computer hackers

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, January 18, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, January 18, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Cybersecurity is the latest Israeli export to Japan. This week, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that it has signed a contract to supply Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) of Tokyo with a training program for “cyber” warriors.

IAI’s TAME Range training system is like a cybersecurity boot camp, complete with an exhaustive “attack bank” from which trainers can unleash the latest and most sophisticated kinds of attacks on a closed network. These dummy scenarios test the mettle of trainees whose job it will be to catch and prevent similar attacks in the real world.

DNP — a leader in publication printing, documentation security and software security products in Japan and around the world — will become a reseller of the system in Japan.

The deal couldn’t have come at a better time; there are currently some 80,000 cybersecurity positions open in Japan that are unfilled due to a lack of qualified personnel. Projections indicate even more job opportunities in the coming years as the country prepares to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

The deal is the latest between the two countries, which, for years, avoided substantial business dealings — mostly because of Japan’s concerns over the geopolitical implications of a relationship with Israel, and fearful of upsetting its Arab oil suppliers.

Things have begun to change, however, as Israel’s high-tech prowess has become too important to ignore, said Vered Farber, director of The Asian Institute, an Israeli organization that has long been seeking to convince both Japanese and Israeli companies that there is much to be gained from working together.

“The Japanese finally realized that there is a Silicon Wadi in the Middle East that rivals California’s Silicon Valley, and they don’t want to get left behind,” Farber told The Times of Israel. “It took them a while to realize it, but they have finally begun to understand that Israel may have what it takes to keep their economy dynamic and growing.”

While other Asian countries — most notably, China and South Korea — have been snapping up Israeli tech, Japan has sat on the sidelines watching the action. No longer, said Farber: “Japanese companies used to concentrate solely on the domestic market, but in recent years they have become much more attuned to the international market. As a result, they have become much more aware of Israel and ‘what if’ offers.”

The ongoing slowdown in the country has also awakened the Japanese to the need to innovate, continued Farber, “and they realize there are few countries as innovative as Israel.”

According to Ohad Cohen, head of the Foreign Trade Administration (FTA) in the Israeli Economy Ministry, “the Japanese economy and society have been undergoing a unique process of change and openness, which presents a golden opportunity for Israel — as a source of knowledge and a global exporter of advanced technology — to increase cooperation and tighten economic relations with this country.”

Last month, Cohen led a large Israeli trade delegation to Japan, where hundreds of Israeli business and government officials met with their counterparts in Tokyo.

In a statement, IAI said that the company was “very happy to team up with DNP, and we are confident that TAME Range, together with DNP’s excellent reputation, will be a perfect match to address the growing need for cybertraining in Japan.”

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