Intel announced today it has joined the cybersecurity syndicate established by Team8, a unique Tel-Aviv-based startup-creation platform focused on developing new cybersecurity solutions. In addition, Intel announced it will work with one of Team8’s companies, Illusive Networks, to develop a solution to combat Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) by combining hardware and software competencies.
“This is very exciting—it will allow us to work at the hardware level,” says Nadav Zafrir, Team8 CEO. Zafrir was commander of the Israel Defense Forces Unit 8200 (the equivalent of the NSA) from 2009 to 2013, and in 2014 established Team8 with co-founders Israel Grimberg and Liran Grinberg (also Unit 8200 veterans). In line with Israeli entrepreneurs’ predilection for rethinking the box, they took a new approach to creating successful and sustainable cybersecurity companies, combining in Team8 elements of a venture capital fund, startup incubator, think tank, and a cybersecurity ecosystem.
Most startups fail. To improve the chances of success for their hatchlings, Team8 founders wanted to add the missing dimension, scale—as in the amount and quality of resources available to the startup, the range of problems they are trying to solve, and the breadth of exposure to the market. “We wanted to keep the agility of a startup, but add the resources that are typically not available to startups,” says Zafrir.
Other ingredients in the new recipe for startup success are the “think tank,” Team8 research group, experts in all aspects of cybersecurity and experienced in both cyber practice and theory; and the “cyber syndicate,” a growing ecosystem of leading companies and investors—Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, Qualcomm, AT&T, Citigroup, Accenture, Nokia, Mitsui, Temasek, Bessemer Venture Partners, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and Marker LLC. They bring to the company-creation process their understanding of cyber technologies and the market, what is hot and painful at present, and what will be the cyber challenges of the future.
“Intel is committed to cybersecurity and we are always looking for the best and the brightest to further our capabilities and provide industry leading security. Team8 provides a unique vantage point and deep experience that makes them a natural fit for future Intel’s security offerings,” said in a statement Rick Echevarria, Vice President, Software and Services Group and General Manager, Platform Security Division at Intel.
The two companies Team8 has launched so far are Claroty and Illusive Networks. Claroty secures and optimizes industrial control networks, the critical infrastructure that is increasingly under cyberattack around the world. Illusive Networks focuses on neutralizing targeted attacks and Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) by creating a deceptive layer across the entire network, providing false information to attackers.
The collaboration between Illusive Networks and Intel extends deception-based cybersecurity from software to hardware. “Intel’s approach to security starts with hardware, the root of trust. We believe securing every layer of the organizational network is needed to protect against today’s modern threats,” Intel’s Jacob Mendel said in a statement. Mendel, co-founder of security software company SCsquare which was acquired by Broadcom in 2011, leads Intel’s cyber excellence center in Israel.
It takes an ecosystem, much talent and expertise, and creative solutions to counter the growing menace of cyberattacks. “In cyberspace,” says Zafrir, “it’s never innovation for the sake of innovation. It’s almost warfare sometimes. You have to fight back.”