Intel steps up security efforts in Israel with Team8, Illusive and a new cyber center

Israel is one of the world’s centers for cybersecurity technology, and today Intel is announcing a trio of developments in the region to help it take better advantage of that. The company is embarking on two new collaborations with Israeli security startups Team8 and Illusive (which was spun out of Team8), and it’s expanding its cyber center in the country.

From what we understand, there is no investment news coming out of either Intel’s relationship with Team8 or Illusive — not today, at least. Both companies count a number of strategic backers who are investors — including Cisco and Microsoft Ventures for Illusive; and AT&T, Cisco, Microsoft, Nokia and Qualcomm for Team8 — so it’s reasonable to guess that Intel is likely to make a similar move public down the line. We’ve reached out to Intel to ask about investments.

In the meantime, what we know is that Intel will be working on two projects with the two companies. Team8 — a security incubator founded by alums of the Israeli Defense Forces — will exchange cyber threat information with Intel to work on new products together, specifically, “with an end towards developing cyber solutions that respond to current risks but even more importantly, to future ones.”

Team8 and its focus on providing a collaborative environment to focus on building security products — sometimes even to would-be competitors — is reminiscent of what Element AI is trying to build in Montreal to address the information-race in the world of artificial intelligence, and providing tools and knowledge to businesses that want to make sure they are taking advantage of the newest innovations, but do not have the core competencies to develop those solutions on their own.

“The collaboration is meant to help Intel develop cutting edge cyber technologies and products,” said Rick Echevarria, VP of Intel’s software and services group and GM of Intel’s platform security division, in a statement. “Team8 will be instrumental in helping us pinpoint the opportunities for Intel innovation to address the challenges in the cyber security segment.”

The Illusive Networks deal concerns a more specific aspect of security: the two will collaboration to build a solution for Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). This builds on tech that Illusive has developed around so-called deception frameworks. As we’ve explained before,  Illusive’s speciality is in building false “virtual networks”, designed to lure in, trick and trap malicious hackers who are breaking into a company’s networks to do harm. Hence the name “Illusive”, a portmanteau of illusion and elusive.

“Creating an innovative solution that combines both software and hardware demonstrates illusive’s commitment to protect at every level of cyber defense,” said Illusive’s CEO Ofer Israeli, in a statement. “Attackers are innovating at a very rapid pace and this collaboration demonstrates Intel’s engagement to move beyond traditional security measures and effectively protect its customers against sophisticated adversaries.” Given that Illusive counts companies like Microsoft among its strategic investors, the idea is likely that it’s developing similar services not only to secure Microsoft’s own network, but potentially to work to cover cloud services run by the company on behalf of other businesses.

At the same time that Intel is collaborating with these two, it’s doubling down on its own cybersecurity efforts in the region, with the opening of a new center led by Jacob Mendel, who came to Intel last year after years with Broadcom after the chipmaker acquired his previous startup, security software maker SC Square.

Unlike companies like Microsoft, Intel hasn’t made any recent moves into snapping any of Israel’s security juggernauts (not moves that have been made public, at least), but there are several reasons why it would want to double down in this area now.

For one, the company has spun out its legacy security business, Intel Security, and you could argue that in doing so it’s cleared the decks to start afresh (which some security people say is realistically the only way to effectively target new threats).

On top of this, the company has made a number of sizeable purchases in the country — such as its acquisition of Mobileye for $15.3 billion. These organizations working at the cutting edge of their fields are prime targets for malicious hackers. And they may indeed be looking at ways of developing their services with stronger security angles to them. (Again, Mobileye with its in-car self-driving technology seems like a ripe opportunity for developing adjacent and integrated automotive security solutions.)

In other words, it’s a ripe time for Intel to be tapping into Israel’s security ecosystem, both as a collaborator and feet-first developer.

Intel is not the only tech behemoth revisiting its security investments, products and operations. Last month, Cisco (investor in both Team8 and Illusive) and IBM announced a collaboration to tackle cybercrime and yesterday Cisco announced a new security service to protect encrypted traffic.

We’ll be listening into a press event later today that could provide more color and will update this as we learn more.