Lessons we can all learn from Israel's cyber commandos

Lessons we can all learn from Israel's cyber commandos.

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Every community struggles to prepare its people for digital citizenship, so it's worth learning from the best trainers.

There is much to be learned from Israel, which is brilliant at managing scarce resources, human or otherwise. Its tiny population of 8.6 million people is so IT literate that it attracts a fifth of all the world's 'smart money', the most genuine endorsement there is. In 2019 its Cyber start-ups were awarded $1.8 billion of venture capital, says YL Ventures and its skills base in fintec attracted $1.4 billion.

Meanwhile every other nation in the West struggles to generate interest in IT careers, and there will be 1.8 million cyber security jobs unfilled by 2022, according to the US Center for Cyber Security and Education. This is puzzling, given the rich rewards and the high drama of the job. Why pay good money for a shoot 'em up app when you can blast Phishers and trap Hackers all day and get handsomely rewarded?

You can only conclude that our recruitment and training is failing badly. In Britain there are many 'leafblowers' in public life: they blow air and make a lot of noise but all they do is move the problem around. Witness this typically ham-fisted attempt at recruitment in the UK, which only managed to upset the population they were trying to win over.

What practical lessons can we learn from Israel?

Children in Israel learn to code at primary school. Then there's the special boarding schools they provide for techie teens - but these are an exception. Every Israeli interviewed below equates their success with one thing: their time in national service. However, conscription into the Israeli armed forces isn't an option for most of us - and it might not be universally popular (my daughter would be furious). But is it worth a recce into the Israeli camp to see if we can steal their secrets and adopt them?

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