Ex-’Israeli NSA’ chief: Cyber doomsday scenario avoidable

Zafrir said he was concerned that technology and network administrators “will lose confidence in the network."

By
June 21, 2018 04:04
2 minute read.
IDF soldiers engaged in cyber security

IDF soldiers engaged in cyber security 370. (photo credit: yadlashiryon.com)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

The cyber doomsday scenarios that many experts have been predicting can be avoided, even though nothing is hack-proof, the ex-commander of IDF Unit 8200, Nadav Zafrir, said on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Cyber Week conference at Tel Aviv University, Zafrir, current head of the cyber security firm Team 8, kept driving home the message that experts’ warnings about worst-case scenarios have made people paranoid – but that even though every system has some vulnerability, the right approach can overcome system failures.

Zafrir, whose earlier IDF Unit 8200 is considered to be the “Israeli NSA,” said he was concerned that technology and network administrators “will lose confidence in the network… We sit here and talk about… drones crashing, planes going down, grids going down. This creates a level of anxiety and paranoia which could lead to closing down systems.”

If this happens, he said that many positive advances which could be happening will be missed.

He added, however, that “this doomsday reality is not a must. If governments share intelligence, if there is cooperation, if we create a village [including cooperation with the private sector] and bring in the right talent, then we can start fighting back and go back to an equilibrium.”

Echoing some similar messages, senior US homeland security and cyber official Christopher Krebs said the key was to focus on “distilling from a risk management perspective, [which] things are truly important and to integrate resilience.”


Clarifying with examples, he said that if a cyberattack temporarily blocked 20-dollar bills from coming out of some ATMs it would be an inconvenience that could be coped with, as long as wholesale payments, GPS timing for aircraft and electricity generation kept operating.

Krebs gave the analogy that when an escalator breaks, it can still be used as a stairway. “If there is a system failure, but it fails gracefully and we move into a position where it can still deliver its essential functions with no system-wide failure,” then countries can be in decent shape to withstand hacks.

An example he gave of being resilient related to a US investigation of Russia’s interference with the 2016 US election which concluded that Russia did not delete any voter information.

The US cyber official said that if Russia had deleted voter information, there were still procedures in place for the person to vote by presenting certain identification information and voting with a provisional ballot.

Also, he concurred with Zafrir that collective security on cyber issues and connecting key human beings at different levels to assist each other were the keys to success.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

AW119KX
February 15, 2019
Israel purchases seven training helicopters from Italian government

By ZACHARY KEYSER