On Tuesday Microsoft and Akamai announced a partnership with Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) to work on a cybersecurity accelerator. One lucky business will receive a million dollar investment from Israeli-based JVP at the end of it’s education and mentoring. Investment in cybersecurity is critical as threats continue to increase at an alarming rate.
JVP has been investing in cybersecurity for about 20 years and JVP Cyber Labs was the first cybersecurity incubator in Israel. Previous funding has gone to CyberArk Software, Navajo Systems and Magnifire. The latter two were bought out by larger companies. This partnership marks the first ever cybersecurity accelerator.
Akamai will invest up to $25,000 in each of the startups accepted into the program and offer it’s web security knowledge and expertise. Stuart Scholly, senior vice president of Akamai believes an investment in cybersecurity startups will eventually benefit businesses on the internet.
He says: “…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.”
The new program is based in the Microsoft Ventures Tel Aviv location and is designed to attract entrepreneurs and startups focusing specifically on cybersecurity. Cybersecurity startups accepted into this program will be announced Aug. 24, 2014, and the class will run through January 2015.
Microsoft Ventures was founded for first-time entrepreneurs and early startups. It is an educational and support program that provides participants 3 to 6 months of connection to businesses, mentoring and technical expertise.
According to the Ventures site, “From coding to gaming, advertising to online dating, they [our startups] all have two things in common: a killer idea and the skills to make it happen.” Several cloud services, restaurant booking, cellular network optimization, apps, hiring help and recipe software are among previous ventures chosen for mentoring.
“Tech startups have the potential to shape the future of cybersecurity,” Zack Weisfeld, head of Microsoft Ventures Europe said. “Akamai is the perfect partner to join Microsoft in delivering unparalleled access and value to startups joining the accelerator. Like us, Akamai is a big proponent of secure computing with a massive reach. We are eager to partner with Akamai to spur the success of cybersecurity innovation based on our respective insights and learnings gained over the years.”
Cybersecurity is a growing threat to internet and cloud service providers. Large volume DDoS attacks increased by almost 350 percent from 2013 to the first half of 2014. Some of the recent trends in DDoS are massive attacks exceeding 100 gigabits per second, attacks targeting infrastructure rather than applications directly, and DDoS attacks from mobile devices (or mDDoS) are reaching significant levels. A study by Prolexic found similar results with an increase of 22 percent in global DDoS attacks over the second quarter 0f 2013.
It’s important for cloud and internet service providers to support these types of startups not only for the purpose of safe business but for a safe country. According to a recent report by Rand Corporation, the shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the US is a concern for both the private sector and the public sector. Public cybersecurity roles have lesser salaries which could pose risks to national and homeland security since those jobs aren’t attracting the highest quality professionals.
The study notes that in the private sector, many large organizations have found ways of dealing with the cybersecurity manpower shortage through internal promotion and educational efforts. A report earlier this year from Cisco notes that there is a worldwide shortage of nearly one million skilled cybersecurity professionals.
US states such as Maryland have begun to offer tax credits to cybersecurity businesses to encourage growth. Other companies such as Fortinet are supporting initiatives and education to help fill jobs in the cybersecurity industry. Programs such as these and the partnership between Microsoft Ventures, JVP and Akamai are critical as continually more sophisticated cybersecurity attacks occur daily.