Cyber security pioneer wins inaugural ‘Israel Prize for High Tech’

Check Point Software Technologies CEO Gil Shwed was named Sunday as the recipient of the first Israel Prize for High Tech.

By: Yona Schnitzer/TPS

“In Israel’s 70th year, I initiated a new category for the Israel Prize – High-Tech,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted. “His story is one of Israeli high-tech. As a veteran of [Intelligence Unit] 8200 who founded Check Point, he paved the way and served as an inspiration for me and for thousands of Israeli tech entrepreneurs,” he added.

Winners of the prestigious prize are selected by the Israeli Minister of Education every year, and they are handed out every Independence Day. The prize is traditionally awarded to four individuals who have excelled in one of four categories – arts, humanities, science and lifetime achievement.

This year, in honor of the 70th year of independence for the Start-Up Nation, Bennett announced that he will be adding another category to the existing four – high-tech.

“I was very moved,” said Shwed after learning he would be receiving the prize, “High-Tech is Israel’s marvel.”

Shwed was born in Jerusalem in 1967, and in 1993, founded Check Point, a multinational provider of software and combined hardware and software products for IT security, along with Shlomo Kramer, who later left to found the cyber security software company Imperva. In 2002, Shwed appeared on the front cover of Forbes’ billionaires issue.

With a market cap of $17 Billion, Check Point is currently the second largest publicly traded Israeli company, coming in after Teva Pharmaceuticals.

In response to the announcement, President Reuven Rivlin said that “there is no one more deserving that [Shwed] to receive the first prize in the field of high tech.”