Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is set to join a cyber security trade mission to Israel in March, the America-Israel Business Connector, or conexx, has announced and the mayor’s office has confirmed.
As if cyber security needed any more attention after major hacks at retail giants like Home Depot and Target last year, the issue was in the spotlight again last month when Sony Pictures was targeted by a group the FBI says had ties to North Korea. Threats by the hackers derailed the planned theatrical release of “The Interview”, a comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. President Barack Obama publicly scolded the company for allowing such threats to censor free expression.
“Recent global events reflect why cyber security matters to all of us,” said Jorge Fernandez, vice president of global commerce at the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
Leading tech companies including Google and IBM say they’re going to continue investing in defensive technologies, which is growing more important as commerce goes online and hackers grow in sophistication. Gartner Inc., a research firm, estimates that 60 percent of companies will see face service failures by 2020 due to threats presented by new technologies.
Israel is a hotbed for information-security companies, especially given that the country’s strong defense sector has spurred much of its startup activity.
Georgia is home to 115 information security companies and is among the top three states in the sector, according to the Technology Association of Georgia’s “Where Georgia Leads” report.
It’s also home to key hubs for industries that rely on information security, including payment processing and health care information technology. The Metro Atlanta Chamber is making a play as a center for mobility, with AT&T Mobility and mobile device management firm AirWatch by VMWare as some standout players.
“Metro Atlanta has a critical mass of resources in place to serve as a beacon for the cyber security ecosystem, including a strong IT workforce, a thriving startup community, a strong higher education system and a growing hub for financial transactions and payment processing,” Mr. Fernandez said. “Seventy percent of U.S. credit, debit and gift card transactions are processed in metro Atlanta. Israel as the ‘startup nation’ has great assets for cultivating partnerships to grow this important technology sub-sector. Attending the cyber security conference in Tel Aviv is part of this overall strategy.”
The Georgia Department of Economic Development is leading the mission with conexx. The trip is to include entry to the CyberTech conference in Tel Aviv, which is slated to feature opening speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and chances to interact with the industry’s elite in Israel while visiting incubators and startup offices.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said an August op-ed in the Washington Times that Georgia Tech’s Information Security Center would work closely with the Advanced Technology Park at Israel’s Ben Gurion University. Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., has been named the location for the U.S. Army’s Cyber Command headquarters.
“Together, the ‘next Silicon Valley’ and the ‘Silicon Valley of the Southeast’ are joining to develop and strengthen our cyberdefenses,” Mr. Deal wrote in the op-ed. Mr. Deal traveled to Israel on a trade mission in June 2014.
For more information or to register for the upcoming mission, click here.