Another day, another announcement of an Israeli cybersecurity vendor that has come out of the famed Unit 8200. Unit 8200, for those who haven’t heard of it before, is the unit of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) that is responsible for keeping Israel safe from cyber attack. Truth be told, it is probably also the unit that is responsible for launching cyberattacks on Israel’s adversaries, but that is a topic for another day. Anyway, the fact that Israeli teenagers have to do a few years of military service, coupled with monstrous defense budgets, means that Unit 8200 is a natural pool of talent for future cybersecurity commercialization.

Team8 is a commercialization entity that was set up to mine this rich mother lode of talent. It calls itself a cybersecurity think-tank but the reality is it is a mix of smart people, smart talent, and smart funding. Team8 itself is backed by a who’s who of the technology world – Microsoft, Cisco, AT&T, Intel, Accenture, Nokia, Temasek, Mitsui, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors all realize that harnessing smart Israeli cybersecurity ideas makes good sense.

Most of those commercial endeavors have been product companies and so it is interesting to see Team8 announce the launch today of a cyber consulting company. Sygnia aims to work alongside its clients to build resilience when it comes to cybersecurity.

The company has already been operating in stealth mode and claims to have many customers, including Fortune 1000 organizations across financial, legal, media and entertainment, logistics, information technology, telecom, manufacturing, and retail.

Sygnia can be thought of as a halfway house between Unit 8200 and the outside world. The company actively draws operatives from the Unit who, looking for a life post-army, nicely fit into what Sygnia is doing. The Founder and CEO of the company is Shachar Levy who in the last two decades held research, cyber, and business leadership positions in government and the private sectors. Co-Founders are Ariel Smoler, Arick Goomanovsky, and Ami Kor, bringing the company yet more cyber experience. Chairman Nadav Zafrir is co-founder and CEO of Team8 and former commander of Unit 8200.

MyPOV

This is an interesting move, made more so by the fact that one of the early employees, Steve Surdu, was previously head of professional services at Mandiant. While Israel product companies get a lot of attention, especially those in the cybersecurity realm, the Sygnia service-based model is different. It also answers a very real need, despite the assertions of many vendors, when it comes to cybersecurity, there really isn’t a “set and forget” toolset – the risks keep changing, the tools keep changing and hence the way organizations respond to security risks also needs to keep changing.

This dynamic nature of things is the very reason that security service providers still exist – having the ability to leverage real-world expertise and make highly contextual decisions on the fly is still a key requirement in dealing with risks as quickly as possible. Sygnia understands this and it’s a safe bet that they’ll be worming their way into some large organizations’ security departments pretty quickly.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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