I visited Accenture’s offices in Israel earlier this month and was fascinated by the depth and breadth of expertise concentrated on cybersecurity. The entire country of Israel is becoming something of a cybersecurity hub, with over 300 cybersecurity startups and more than 30 multi-national companies (including Accenture) opening local R&D centers.

Accenture is actively evaluating and screening these emerging startups and has established partnerships with Israeli universities to identify new areas for research. In 2016, Accenture acquired Maglan, a privately-held Israeli cybersecurity company with a team of highly skilled cybersecurity professionals who honed their skills fighting cybercrime and confronting cyber espionage around the globe. This augments Accenture’s full range of security services and defensive countermeasures.

Later in 2016, Accenture opened its Cybersecurity R&D Lab in Herzliya, Israel. The Lab brings together a constant stream of fresh insights and breakthrough technologies through the Accenture Open Innovation program that collaborates with venture capitalists, start-ups and universities.

I took four key learnings away from the visit to Israel:

  1. You cannot protect everything. Cybersecurity calls for difficult choices, made more difficult as banks’ reputations rely, in large part, on their ability to protect clients’ assets and data.
  2. The most “elegant” defenses are often the simplest. Effective cyber-defenses leverage a deep understanding of hackers’ behaviors and what it takes to lead them down dead-end paths.
  3. Top management and board members are a key element in security. Banks’ top management and boards deal with multiple topics and interact with many people and organizations at many levels of society; they need to understand cyber-risks and what measures should be taken to protect sensitive information.
  4. The whole ecosystem needs to be secured. In an Open Banking environment, the entire ecosystem is at risk. Banks should be looking at reducing the number of players and suppliers, and at leveraging highly secure relationships. We have a role in supporting our fintech partners participating in such an ecosystem.

Cybersecurity is a top-of-mind concern for executives in banking and other industries, and threats keep evolving. I must admit, however, that after my trip to Israel, I feel more secure, having seen what top players from industry, government, venture capital and academia can accomplish when they work together to prevent and mitigate cyberattacks.

 

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