One example of Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) push toward new international joint ventures is Custodio, a Singapore-based cybersecurity research and development company being established in collaboration with the nation's Economic Development Board and announced in February at the Singapore Airshow.

For IAI, Custodio not only represents expansion in the Asian market but “the evolution of ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] into the cyber domain,” according to IAI President/CEO Joseph Weiss. The goal is that Custodio will grow to have an 80-90% Singaporean workforce, including its executives. It will develop next-generation security tools, IAI says, which can then be transferred to commercial users.

The joint venture fits into Singapore's five-year cybersecurity master plan, adopted in 2013. “The vision is to become the regional hub for cybersecurity in Asia,” says EDB managing director Yeoh Keat Chuan. “[We offer] a trusted location, a diverse talent pool and connectivity.”

Custodio will focus on what IAI sees as the three key challenges in cyberdefense: active defense, or the ability to catch the hacker in the act and protect vital data while gathering information on the attacker; geolocation, or the attribution of an attack to a specific nation or region; and identification or anomaly detection, which involves learning about attackers' behavior and providing early warning of an attack.

Geolocation and attribution are “the Holy Grail” of cyber, according to Esti Peshin, IAI-Elta director of cyber programs. Peshin played a lead role in establishing the new joint venture. Until that can be solved, she says, the cyber domain is “inherently asymmetric,” favoring an attacker who can remain hidden.