According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz,Barcelona, the Catalan capital,has become the offensive hub for Israeli researchers.A cyber company,Palm Beach Networks (PBN, formerly Defense Prime), is following an already well-established trend.
A Florida-based Defense Prime, which has headhunted by Israeli hackers Yigal Sharon and Yosef Aloni, both of whom worked for the US investment fund Black Dragon Capital, and Yaacov Nir, is just the latest example of American and European firms stepping into the offensive cyber game.
Following the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s decision to blacklist Israeli intelligence firms NSO Group and Candiru, the Israeli government significantly tightened its policy on cyber-offensive exports. That led to many researchers based in Israel to relocate to Europe.
Cyprus had long served as the European rear base for Israeli cyber-offensive firms, but a European Parliament committee of inquiry into NSO Group’s spyware Pegasus, the PEGA commission, shed light on the island’s role. Israeli firms are now less inclined to use Cyprus to export their cyber tools, preferring to go through Switzerland and Catalonia.
Israeli cyber specialists are not the only ones to see potential in Barcelona, which has also been attracting attention from European cyber-offensive developers. Italy’s Dataflow Security has offices there to house the European branch of its subsidiary,Dataflow Forensics.
More notably, as they seek to build a small empire from Singapore to Italy and Cyprus,Ralf Wegener and Ramanan Jayaraman have opted to house their parent company, Variston Information Technology, in Barcelona. Variston has sold its technologies to the UAE.