Microsoft, Akamai launch security startup accelerator in Israel

Microsoft is on the hunt for security startups in Israel, after launching a security-focused accelerator program in Tel Aviv in partnership with cloud services provider, Akamai.

Microsoft and cloud services provider Akamai have joined forces to launch a security-focused startup accelerator program in Israel, in partnership with venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners JVP.

The program, which is located at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Tel Aviv, is aimed at providing security startups with mentorship and market expertise, helping them to accelerate their business and "create breakthroughs in cybersecurity", according to Microsoft.

JVP, which claims an investment portfolio including Playcast, XMPie, and Cogent, will offer a US$1 million investment in one of the security startups at the end of the program, and will be active in the selection process.

Additionally, Akamai is offering to invest up to US$25,000 with each startup accepted into the program, and will also provide mentoring and introductions to partners and customers.

Stuart Scholly, Akamai's senior vice president and general manager, security business unit, said supporting new security development is essential for industry to maintain pace with emerging threats.

"Akamai's globally distributed computing platform was designed from day one to be as safe and secure as possible, and we have continued to make investments in this area," he said. "And yet, the computer security landscape continues to evolve with new threats emerging every day."

"We believe that supporting security innovation, not only at Akamai, but also through promising entrepreneurs, is of true benefit to our customers and any company doing business on the internet," he said.

According to Zack Weisfeld, head of Microsoft Ventures Europe, tech startups possess the potential to shape the future of electronic security, and the new partnership with the US-headquartered Akamai is set to leverage the potential of local startups.

"Akamai is the perfect partner to join Microsoft in delivering unparalleled access and value to startups joining the accelerator," he said. "Like us, Akamai is a big proponent of secure computing with a massive reach."

Startups accepted into the program will be announced on 24 August, and the class will run through January 2015.

The new security startup accelerator comes as reports emerge that Israel's "Iron Dome" missile shield system — which is currently protecting the country from rocket attacks by Palestinian militants — was compromised by hackers between 2011 and 2012.

report by Krebs on Security, said that US-based cyber threat intelligence firm Cyber Engineering Services Inc. (CyberESI) has for the first time released intrusion details showing that three Israeli defence contractors responsible for building the missile shield system, Elisra Group, Israel Aerospace Industries, and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, were robbed of "huge quantities of sensitive documents relating to the technology".

According to CyberESI, the attacks bore the hallmarks of the "Comment Crew", a state-sponsored hacking group associated with the Chinese military.