Why did an Israeli public utility start exporting cyber-security?

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Few countries are as popular a target for cyberattacks as Israel, and public utilities are one of the primary targets. That’s why state-owned Israel Electric is betting its future on cyber-security exports, as providing electricity to Israeli homes has left the company with billions of dollars in debt. With anywhere from 150,000 to 300,000 hacking attempts occurring EVERY DAY, the company is in a good position to teach others how to combat such attacks. 

Israel Electric Corp. is opening a new line of business, and it has nothing to do with providing electricity into homes. The state-owned, debt-ridden electricity company, which says it fends off between 150,000 and 300,000 hacking attempts on an average day, is betting its future on cyber-security exports – software, hardware, training, and consulting to foreign governments, utilities companies and airports. The new focus comes on the backdrop of increased scrutiny on the company’s monopoly status over its steep debt – totaling about 70 billion shekels ($18.4 billion) at the end of 2014, about 6% of Israel’s annual gross domestic product. Criticism over high electricity prices, and public anger over employees’ allotment of free electricity each month at taxpayers’ expense, has also been mounting. Ongoing deadlock over structural reforms are preventing the utility from seeking more traditional projects to generate new revenue. The 92-year-old utility, established even before the state of Israel, is betting that its in-house expertise as well as the growing international demand for cyber-security solutions will bring in between 2 and 3 billion shekels ($523,000 – $784,000) a year in new revenue within the next few years.

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