Israeli cybersecurity company XM Cyber, cofounded by former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, is entering the Persian Gulf for the first time. The startup will sell cybersecurity products to protect the region’s gas, oil and financial infrastructures.
Following the signing of the Abraham accords last year, normalizing relations between Israel and Gulf countries the UAE and Bahrain, XM Cyber signed a cooperation agreement with Dubai-based Spire Solutions, led by Indian experts who also represent Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) and CyberArk Software Inc. (Nasdaq:CYBR). Pardo serves as president of XM Cyber and has an equal share in controlling the company with cofounders CEO Noam Erez and CTO Boaz Gorodissky, a former head of the technology department at the Prime Minister’s Office.
In addition, XM Cyber will cooperate with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and a new consortium set up to sign contracts with companies in the Gulf in the field of gas and oil infrastructures including Israel Electric Corp. (IEC), Energy Infrastructures and other cybersecurity companies like Waterfall Security Solutions, TrapX Security, and Radiflow. Sources close to XM Cyber have confirmed to “Globes” about the cooperation although the company itself declined to officially comment on the matter.
XM Cyber has developed products that identify weaknesses in critical infrastructures and provide alerts as required. The company deploys an array of virtual sensors throughout the customer’s operational infrastructure network to simulate operations during a cyberattack. Through these simulated attacks, XM Cyber identifies weaknesses in the critical infrastructures and potential routes for penetrating the infrastructures, thus testing structural vulnerabilities as well as human errors in assembling the software and hardware of the infrastructures and the behavior of employees in the interfaces with the infrastructures.
After its initial installation, XM Cyber produces a map of the weaknesses and potential breaches of the infrastructure that the security manager must close. The company’s system continues to scan the network to identify exposures and vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, poorly managed credentials and risky user activities that hackers could potentially exploit to penetrate an organization or infrastructure. All this provides ongoing protection.
XM Cyber began its overseas operations in the US where it works with several major banks. The company has since extended its operations to the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy and other Western European countries including, most recently, France. Customers include Hamburg port and US insurance company Plymouth Rock.
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At this stage Spire Solutions will help XM Cyber work with the only two countries in the Persian Gulf who were signatories to the Abraham Accords – the UAE and Bahrain. This is in contrast to other Israeli companies who are working under the radar with countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar who do not have full relations with Israel.
XM Cyber has raised $49 million to date from investors including Shaul Shani’s Swarth Group, the first to invest in the company, as well as former CIA head David Petraeus, Nasdaq Ventures, and Australia’s Macquarie Capital
Flocking to Dubai
XM Cyber is also working in Dubai as part of a consortium headed by Rafael to protect national infrastructures such as gas rigs, oil wells, ports and airports. The aim of the coalition is to promote cooperation deals between Israeli companies and UAE government companies so that not every Israeli company will need to conduct individual negotiations but rather Rafael undertakes the initial mapping of needs and sells the systems required jointly. A source close to the deal said that in addition to the UAE, the consortium will also work with other government sectors in the Gulf.
According to the Intelligence Online website, the UAE did not like the previous attempts by individual Israeli companies to approach them separately and from these efforts Israel realized the importance of a joint approach.
In addition to XM Cyber, the Israeli consortium’s members include Waterfall Security Solutions led by cofounder and CEO Lior Frenkel, who previously founded encryption systems and digital intervention company Gita Technologies, which was acquired by Verint. Waterfall, which is already operating in Abu Dhabi as well as Singapore and the US, has developed systems that prevent cyberattacks from one network to another such as between a communications network and an oil rig.
Other consortium members include Radiflow, led by CEO Ilan Barda, which specializes in industrial control systems; and Cyberpro led by former senior IDF 8200 intelligence unit officer Gal Ganot; and cybersecurity company Cervello, and TrapX Security, which protects infrastructures by luring attackers into various authentic but false traps.
The race to protect infrastructures
The field of infrastructure security is vital for countries like the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and even Qatar, which are based on the oil and gas industries. Electronic infrastructure security has become critical recently after the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline in the US in May, which shut down the oil pipeline system for a month and caused serious delays in the supply of oil to the Eastern US. Last year Israel was subject to a cyberattack on its water and sewage system, which did not cause major damage but demonstrated the potential vulnerability of local infrastructures.
The most famous cyberattack of all, more than a decade ago, was the Stuxnet malicious computer worm, which successfully targeted the Iranian nuclear program through its Siemens SCADA systems and centrifuges, and was credited to western security agencies.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on August 30, 2021
Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021