Cyber hackers [illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Amid concerns of Iran’s increasingly enhanced ability to wage cyber warfare, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Sunday the upgrading of Israel’s cyber defense with the establishment of a new National Cyber Defense Authority that will protect civilian cyberspace, and not only vital security facilities.
The decision to establish this authority, alongside the already existing Israel National Cyber Bureau headed by Eviatar Matania, came after staff work dealing with cyber threats indicated a need for a “designated body to link the civilian and security spheres, to coordinate between leading experts in the field and lead Israel’s overall defensive activity while taking a long-term view of the increasing and developing cyber threats.”
The decision ends a year-long battle among different institutions, including the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), vying for responsibility over this sphere, which is expected to bring large budgets in its wake.
Matania is to submit a proposal for the proposed authority to the security cabinet within 60 days, and will – along with other relevant agencies – lead the establishment of the body.
Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet, where the decision was announced, that it was important for Israel to have an agency that would not only protect vital facilities and security agencies from cyber attack, but also individual citizens. He said the establishment of the agency was akin to establishing an “air force” to protect Israel’s cyberspace.
“We are in a new world,” he said. “We are preparing with new forces.”
Matania said that “dealing with the cyber threat on the national level in the coming decades constitutes a strategic challenge that all countries must deal with.”
He hailed this as a “historic decision,” saying it would bolster Israel’s position as a leader in the field and “make a major contribution to defending the economy and encouraging growth.”
Earlier this month, at the fourth annual international cyber security conference at Tel Aviv University, Netanyahu said that Iran was the main originator of cyber attacks against Israel.
“Iran and its proxies take advantage of the security and anonymity of cyberspace,” he said, adding that “the cyber field is increasingly becoming a battlefield.”
“We are committed to maintaining Israel’s position as a global cyber power and as such we have to implement a policy that protects cyberspace as an open space and as the basis for global growth,” he said during that speech.