Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world’s largest beer brewer, has announced plans to open a cybersecurity unit in Tel Aviv after an upsurge in hacking attacks.
Headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, AB InBev produces 25 percent of the beer globally, making over 400 brands including Budweiser, Corona, Becks, and Stella Artois. The company has recently faced regular cybersecurity attacks, ranging from bothersome and disruptive to financially motivated, Luis Veronesi, AB InBev VP of global security and compliance, told Reuters.
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The unit, dubbed the Beer Tech according to CTech by Calcalist, will be completely focused on “analyzing threats and potential attacks,” Veronesi said.
“With increasing digitalization, we have to be prepared to defend against anything coming,” he told Reuters.
Israel is a widely recognized cybersecurity powerhouse, with over 450 active cybersecurity companies and startups as of 2018. It is also home to the second-largest number of cybersecurity deals globally in recent years, second only to the US, according to a 2018 report compiled by New York data firm CB Insights. Last year, Israeli cybersecurity ventures raised more than $1 billion in equity investment, setting a new record and marking a 47 percent increase from 2017, according to a report on Israel’s cyber sector published earlier this year by Start-Up Nation Central (SNC).
AB InBev did not disclose financial details related to the launch of the cybersecurity unit.
Veronesi told CTech that AB InBev currently works with about five Israeli cybersecurity companies for solutions in a wide range of services including business intelligence, cyber defense, and privacy issues, and is in talks with about eight more firms.
Veronesi said the company started recruiting for the new center in March, and that “it is possible the hub will reach 100 employees in the future,” CTech reported.
AB InBev plans to expand operations in the future to tap into Israel’s know-how in a myriad of other technological industries, including agri-tech and food tech, according to CTech.
The Beer Tech is not AB InBev’s first venture in Israel. In 2018, the company acquired Israeli startup WeissBeerger Ltd., an analytics company that provides real-time data and feedback on beverage consumption and consumer behavior by connecting beer taps and registers to the internet.
WeissBeerger now serves as AB InBev’s R&D center in Israel, employing approximately 100 people. The acquisition was valued at about $80 million, Globes reported at the time.
Israel is gearing up for one of the biggest cybersecurity events of the year next week, the 9th Cyber Week conference at Tel Aviv University. The event gathers thousands of leading cybersecurity researchers, entrepreneurs, and insiders from across the world for five days of discussions, panels, workshops, and a large exhibition.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a guest speaker at the annual confab for several years. Last year, he opened his address with a simulated cyber attack on the conference itself.