Inside Israel’s secret startup Machine
The Israel Defense Forces’ clandestine Unit 8200 isn’t just the mythical cybersecurity and spy squad. It’s probably the best school for entrepreneurship in the world, spawning hundreds of game-changing tech startups. Here’s a definitive look inside.
ven in the hallowed annals of teenage hackerdom, this never-before-told story might top them all. In the early 1990s Avishai Abrahami found himself, as required for most Israelis when they graduate from high school, enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces. But Abrahami had been assigned to a division he wasn’t allowed to speak of, not even to his parents—a crack cybersecurity and intelligence team known as Unit 8200.
He was given an assignment that seemed right out of Mission: Impossible. Break into the computers of a country that remained in a state of hostility with Israel. The task contained several hurdles: First, figure out how to get into those computers; second, how to crack the encryption; and