The Jerusalem Post
PM invites allies to form global cybersecurity forum
Bennett: If you try and fight alone, you’re going to lose. If you fight together, you’re going to win
Israel is launching an international cybersecurity network for like-minded countries to fight threats together, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced at the Cyber Week conference at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday.
“Israel is opening up and announcing a Global Cybernet Shield,” Bennett said. “If you try and fight alone, you’re going to lose. If you fight together, you’re going to win.”
Israel already has dozens of memoranda of understanding with other countries on cybersecurity, the prime minister said, but the Global Cybernet Shield is meant to “bring it to the next level of online, real-time network defense.”
The shield is still in development, and is meant to be an international version of Israel’s “Cybernet” online-defense system.
“I invite all like-minded countries to join today. Call Yigal Unna,” Bennett said, referring to the director of the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD).
Bennett, the former CEO of a cybersecurity company, gave a TED-style speech at Cyber Week titled “Israel’s Cyberdefense – What’s Coming Next.” He walked across an empty stage with a visual presentation behind him, featuring slides that showed the components of Israel’s cyberdefense network, and a map of the world with arrows emanating from Iran to show who it has threatened with cyberattacks.
“Everything is under attack: our water, electricity, food, airplanes, cars. Everything is vulnerable,” Bennett warned.
The prime minister pointed out that cyberattacks are much easier than traditional ones.
“If you’re a bad country trying to harm or attack someone else, in the past you needed to send an airplane with commandos or a bomber, but today, the best ROI” – return on investment – “is a cyberattack. You just need brains, knowledge, experience and a good Internet line. That’s as easy as it gets,” Bennett said.
“Today, the biggest bang for your buck in trying to attack another country, industry or anyone is a cyberattack, and that’s why it’s going to happen more and more,” he said.
Bennett said he views cyberattacks as one of the greatest threats not only to Israel’s national security, but to that of the world.
The Global Cybernet Shield would use the “principles of connectivity” Israel uses for cyberdefense internally, but on an international level, he explained.
THIS PRINCIPLE is put into practice in the way the private and public sectors work together to defend Israel from cyberattacks.
The INCD is tasked with defending the state’s critical infrastructure from attack, but it also has a shared responsibility for the private sector.
Bennett compared a cybersecurity threat to a pickpocket on a bus; if one person loudly declares what the pickpocket is doing, others will know how to defend themselves.
Private companies are able to contact the directorate when they are under attack, which shares information across Israel.
“If one of those countries out there is attacking one of our companies, we want everyone else to know,” Bennett said.
Aviram Atzaba, INCD executive director of strategy and international cooperation, explained that Israel developed its Cybernet system several years ago, in which over 1,500 organizations, including major Israeli companies, government ministries and more, share information about cyberattacks. Companies send warnings to the directorate, which anonymizes the messages and sends them to all the network’s members.
“We can spread information without compromising the company that was attacked, and thus stop a pandemic in the cyber world,” Atzaba explained.
In the newest edition of Cybernet, the INCD also sends the organizations information on how to defend themselves by patching their own systems.
The system’s major advantage is its speed in warning organizations about attacks, Atzaba said.
The system has been very successful in Israel, he said, and foreign cybersecurity units have expressed interest in joining. Bennett himself suggested that the network be made international to allow like-minded states to cooperate in the cyberdefense effort.
In his address, Bennett also acknowledged that most Israeli innovation comes from the private sector, but said the government created an environment in which the industry can thrive. That includes the IDF giving young people major responsibilities, whether in cybersecurity and intelligence units or, like Bennett himself, in combat units.
In addition, the prime minister commended the creation of a cybersecurity and technology hub in Beersheba, where IDF cyber experts, private tech developers and venture capital firm associates can easily meet, network and innovate.
“Innovation is something you can’t command, force or direct,” he said. “There is no law we could create that will say ‘we want you to innovate twice a day’ – it doesn’t work that way. All we can do is allow it to happen, allow all these folks to get together, create this fusion and let them move.”