TD Bank Group will open up a subsidiary office dedicated to cyber security research in Tel Aviv, Israel, it announced on Wednesday.
The new office marks the first time a Canadian bank has opened an office in Israel, and a rare move for TD to open an office in an area that it doesn’t actually serve as a bank. But according to Jeff Henderson, executive vice-president and CIO of TD Bank Group, the bank just couldn’t resist the security talent available in the region. And apparently, the bank is hungry for both quantity and quality of this variety of talent.
“The demand for the talent has grown exponentially,” he says. “There is terrific talent in North America and I think we’ve done a terrific job punching above our weight acquiring that talent. But that’s not enough for us.”
TD says that other global companies have set up operations in Israel to tap into its cyber security ecosystem. Now it plans to do the same by hiring six to 12 cyber security experts to the new office over time. The director of the office is Julie Baker, who previously was the head of application security and customer protection for TD Bank. While in that role, she implemented an enterprise-wide Software Development Life Cycle program. Baker also has experience on the ground in Israel.
Henderson and other TD executives traveled to Israel earlier this year to explore ways it could connect with the ecosystem there. It held meetings with different levels of government, the Canadian ambassador, and venture capital firms. Since 2012, Israel’s federal government has declared a mission to be one of the top five cyber nations in the world able to protect infrastructure, companies, and people – spawning a thriving cyber security industry. Its various measures to strengthen the cyber security industry have ranged from giving the Army’s cyber unit first pick of high school students that are required to serve in the military, to tax breaks for foreign companies that open research centres.
Cyber security is a high priority for TD Bank, Henderson says, as its customers place trust that the bank will keep both their money and their personal information secure. The bank looks at cyber security as divided into protective capabilities and detective capabilities. This lab is expected to work in both of those areas.
“They are equally important,” he says. “But as good as your preventive capabilities, bad stuff is always going to happen. You have to find it before it does any damage.”
Henderson gives an example of an employee being baited to download malware with a phishing email. His cyber security team wants to find that malware and stop it before it can cause any damage.
The lab will also be able to do a defensive test of new products TD brings to market as well.