Life & Culture

Tackling terrorism with technology

A deleted message is retreived with the use of top Israeli technology


An Israeli company is battling terrorism with technology used by government agencies across the globe.

Cellebrite, founded in 1999, is headquartered in Petah Tikva, Israel, and more than 50 per cent of the technology company’s $200 million average annual revenue stems from its forensics division — established in 2007.

The division develops software and hardware used to prevent terror activity. The sophisticated technology can retreive deleted or lost data from mobile phones, digital tablets and PCs — but it is only available to authorised government agencies and corporate organisations such as insurers.

“We recognised the need to create software capable of satisfying law enforcement needs,” says Cellebrite co-CEO Yossi Carmil, who has worked for the Israeli Ministry of Defence.

“Our Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) is able to retrieve data from a mobile phone — from the technology of a suspicious person.”

He says “someone could think that if they press delete the message is gone — but it’s not the case.”

With around 15,000 UFED devices deployed to agencies across 60 countries and with more than 50 per cent of forensic revenue stemming from the United States — the company is a recognised authority in the market. Clients have included the Indian army, West Yorkshire and Japanese police.

Cellebrite’s expertise extends to its retail division. The company’s Universal Memory Exchanger (UME) technology, targets the everyday mobile user. It facilitates back-up storage and the swift transfer of data from on device to another.

Mr Carmil explains that “the UME can access technology from a source to a target phone. You can transfer all your contacts from a Blackberry to an iPhone, from a Siemans to a Nokia and from a PC to iCloud using this device.”

It is a swift and convenient mechanism for consumers who can access the helpful facility at mobile retail stores.

In the UK, consumers access the service via the Carphone Warehouse, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodaphone stores. The global service sees 250,000 transactions each year at 145,000 stores.

“It was something that was never done before,” claims Mr Carmil. “It reduces barriers from each different phone.”

Without a doubt, Cellebrite is established in the mobile industry. But in a competitive digital market, the Israeli company faces challenges.

“Cellebrite suffers from the fact that we have to work hard not to lose our customers,” says Mr Carmil. “We have a lot of ideas but always try to keep our technology simple.

“In Hebrew we have a saying, keep it simple, even stupid.”

Mr Carmil, 46, grew up in Petah Tikva. He has worked as director of ITS Telecom and as vice president of mobile Siemens commercial division in Israel.

As part of the Cellebrite’s founding generation, he has watched it expand from five to 290 employees.

In 2007, Cellebrite was sold and is now a fully-owned subsidiary of the Japanese Sun Corporation. The sell was part of a “strategic decision to grow,” according to Mr Carmil.

He says it faciliates access to markets beyond Cellebrite’s subsidiaries in the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Singapore and Brazil. The company has no Middle East base outside of Israel, but Mr Carmil says “there is no reason we can’t pursue other regions”.

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