Netanyahu: Israel should be a global cyber-power

PM warns stresses importance of R&D in defense industry; Yuval Diskin: Syria has set up "virtual army" to tackle online activities against Assad rule.

June 9, 2011 14:38
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dark 311 (R). (photo credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO)


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Israel should be a global cyber-power, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday during a conference on cyber-warfare at Tel Aviv University, adding that “we are preparing ourselves” to be a significant player in the new area of cyber-warfare, Channel 10 reported.

The conference, whose theme is “Exploring the cyberwarfare arena from the global, national and technological aspects, and reviewing threats and best practices,” was organized by Tel Aviv University’s Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, and the Institute for National Security Studies.

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“Although the field is not precise... we must enter it...

and become a world cyberpower,” Netanyahu told participants.

“This is possible. We’re no longer crawling, we’re walking, and soon we will be running forward.”

Fast-paced changes in technology mean that Israel, like all technology-oriented countries, has become reliant on computers in the fields of transport, aviation, banking, medical care and defense, Netanyahu said.


“The more computerized we get, the more vulnerable we become. There is therefore no choice but to deal with this in a more systematic and focused manner,” he warned, pointing to defense, industry and science as crucial fields of activity.

Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin also addressed the conference.

“We are in an era in which every civilian can be exposed to crimes through their devices, like cell phones and laptops,” he said.

Diskin added that the Shin Bet had been tasked by the government to ensure security for electronic communications, defend against online attacks by terrorist elements and criminals, and prevent leaks.

The former Shin Bet chief discussed foreign press reports claiming that China was able to rechannel all Internet traffic through its servers, adding that further steps were needed to prevent increasingly sophisticated Internet-based subterfuge.

Addressing the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, Diskin said Syrian President Bashar Assad had set up a “virtual army” to tackle online activities directed against his rule.

On Monday, the Institute for National Security Studies released a new report that said a worldwide cybernetic “arms race” had already begun, including the establishment of offices and headquarters in various countries dedicated to this latest battleground.

The study, co-authored by INSS senior researcher Shmuel Even and senior IDF Intelligence Directorate researcher David Siman Tov, named the US, Britain, Germany, France and China as some of the nations busy developing such capabilities.

“The cybernetic sphere is a new battleground, and joins the land, sea, air and space arenas in modern warfare,” the report said. “Modern states and advanced militaries are increasing their activities in the cybernetics sphere, which presents a source of empowerment, but is also an Achilles heel.”

Vital national infrastructure, including electricity, communications, water, transportation and monetary systems, are based on cybernetics. So are military command and control networks and advanced battleground technologies, the report noted.

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