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May 17, 2016

Washington Post Notes Israel’s Cyber Strength

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Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


The Washington Post’s “Cyber-city rises from the desert in Israel” (May 15, 2016) highlighted Israel’s growing power in the realm of cyber-security—a strength made possible, in part, through innovation and cooperation.

The Post reported that in the middle of the Negev Desert, in southern Israel, a “cyber-city is rising to cement Israel’s place as a major digital power.” Beersheba, population 200,000 and home to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, “will concentrate some of the country’s top talent from the military, academia and business in an area of just a few square miles.”

Beersheba houses a technology park that includes global companies such as PayPal, Lockheed Martin and Deutsche Telekom, among others. Unit 8200, a signals intelligence arm of the Israeli military (roughly analogous to the U.S. National Security Agency), will soon be located at the park. The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, will also take up residence at the complex adjacent to Ben-Gurion University.

The school will work with these global companies and Israeli military and security agencies to complete a cyber emergency response team.

In 2014, Israel launched the response team, as part of the National Cyber Security Authority, to respond to crises. Growing cyber threats to Israel, including those emanating from Iran, have helped to provide an incentive. As The Post article detailed, constant attacks, virtual as well as physical, against the Jewish state, as well as “cross-pollination” from different sectors, have helped propel Israeli growth in cyber.

The Post quoted Nadav Zafrir, a former head of Unit 8200, on the combined potency provided of private and public entities:

“What you get out of that is the research capabilities that academia brings, the real-world knowledge that the [tech firms] bring, the hands-on experience that the military brings, alongside the entrepreneurial ability that the start-ups bring.” The Post seems to concur, concluding that “no other country is so purposefully integrating its private, scholarly, government and military cyber-expertise.”

These different organizations reflect Israel’s emphasis on cyber-security as well as its unique approach to the problems—and opportunities—posed by threats emanating online.

Eviatar Matania, the head of the National Cyber Bureau, told The Post that Israel “gains an advantage over other countries” through a high-tech and innovation-driven culture that emanates, in part, from cyber-security. According to Matania, the result is that Israel sees the cyber realm “not just as a threat to mitigate, but also as one of our economic engines.”

As CAMERA has noted ("Defense One: Israel is a Rising Cyber ‘Super Power,’” Feb. 2, 2016), Israel currently has more than 300 cybersecurity companies and accounts for 20 percent of the world’s private investment in cyber. An estimated $6 billion in cybersecurity technology is exported by the Jewish state.

It seems likely that Israel’s strength in cyber will continue to grow. By the end of 2017, The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are hoping to establish a cyber-command to “merge the missions of attack and defense.”

The elite cyber-units recruit at an early age. The Post noted that “the cream of the computer science and math crop are scouted by the elite military cyber-units when they are as young as 14.” Military cyber-officers mentor students at four Israeli high schools that offer advanced math and computer science curriculum. After serving Israel, cybersecurity specialists will have an opportunity to work for private companies, including those housed at Beersheba.

IDF Capt. Rotem Bashi, who heads a cyberdefense unit, told The Post, the “next war will be in cyberspace.” If so—as this Washington Post article detailed—Israel intends to be ready.

Posted by SD at May 17, 2016 12:42 PM

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